The Greek goddess of beauty has smiled upon the coastline of Cyprus. Georgia Boscawen discovers why superyacht owners are bound to fall in love with it too
Striking turquoise waters lash the rocks beneath my feet as I look towards a tiny uninhabited landmass that lies just off the shoreline of the Chrysochou Bay on the westernmost peninsula of Cyprus. And in 30-degree heat – as it often is from April through to November – it seems strange that the cliffs behind me are verdant and covered in thriving shrubs and flora, rather than the bleached coves that we often see across the rest of the Med. What is perhaps even more surprising for such a serene setting is that there is not a yacht in sight.
With almost 650 kilometres of coastline, Cyprus is a curiosity – being not one, but two nations, de facto, with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus occupying one-third of the island and Greek Cypriots the southern two-thirds. The history of the island has been tumultuous, most recently weathering the aftermath of the coup d’état and Turkish invasion of 1974. Yet the island is now unequivocally peaceful and safe, and it’s a place with a rich amalgamation of culture that manifests in various forms – from gastronomic relishes to archaeological marvels – across the island. Despite its array of attributes Cyprus has never traditionally been part of the summer circuit.
However, over recent years superyacht numbers have slowly started to rise. From 2017 to 2021, there was a 65 per cent increase in the number of vessels in Cypriot waters, including some high-profile superyachts spotted off the coasts of Paphos and Limassol. This increase can partially be attributed to a development in facilities, especially at Limassol Marina on the south coast. “We have 650 berths here and can accommodate yachts up to 110 metres,” says marina manager Tom Lord. “It really does have everything: wild coastlines, great climate, wonderful food and you can fly from Dubai to Cyprus in less than four hours,” he adds from the driver’s seat of the marina golf cart, while we whizz around the newly completed island of classically. Mediterranean marina properties. Each has ornate arches and red-tiled roofs, and many are for sale. “With more than 300 days of sun, it’s the perfect yachting climate, but what you may not know is that you can also drive up to the Cypriot mountains and ski,” says Lord, pointing to the immense mountainous backdrop. Limassol is the first purpose-built superyacht marina in southern Cyprus, and it certainly won’t be the last, with two additional large-yacht marinas currently in development.
Superyacht guests who do venture to Cyprus certainly won’t be disappointed by the luxury available off the water. Alongside its untouched hills and forgotten coves Cyprus is home to a host of extravagant properties that could give the finest European hotels a run for their money, as I discover for myself as the barriers lift to the coastal retreat of Anassa. Perfectly coiffed cypress trees shoot from banks of pink geraniums around the sprawling grounds of the hotel as bougainvillea engulf its walls. Reminiscent of a whitewashed Byzantine village, these walls lead to the arched marble reception hall. The rooms at Anassa are as grand as the grounds, with polished white marble floors, blue-striped chaises longues and billowing diaphanous voiles, through which can be found private pillared terraces overlooking a bay that’s primed for visiting superyachts. Almost the entire range of fragrance Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo lines the marble bathroom, which also has fluffy dressing gowns and a bathtub almost big enough to swim in.
The hotel leads directly onto a pristine and secluded sandy beach strewn with cushioned sunloungers and decked walkways. It’s a dramatic departure from the island’s earthy coastline. And, of course, the hotel maintains a culinary excellence across its four restaurants, all of which are run by chef David Goodridge, who has worked alongside chefs such as Raymond Blanc at the two-Michelin-star Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire.
Lanterns are dispersed throughout the olive trees above the terrace at Helios, the hotel’s flagship fine-dining restaurant, which serves up a contemporary blend of French-Mediterranean flavours. Following my welcome glass of Billecart-Salmon brut rosé, tonight’s menu includes Atlantic king crab served with compressed tomato, lime gel and crispy bisque followed by a clear chilled gazpacho essence and magret duck breast with braised leek and confit potatoes.
Overindulging in each of the four restaurants at Anassa is inevitable, but there are plenty of facilities at the hotel’s Thalassa Spa and fully equipped gym that may help to offset some of your calorific intake. Although, like many other guests, I decided to swap my trainers for Tata Harper, whose products are used across the extensive list of treatments at the Thalassa Spa, including the Anassa signature massage and Anassa luxury facial. It’s safe to say I made the correct choice. Lying beneath the spa’s towering Roman columns on a waterbed in the darkened “relaxation room” after my massage, I am once more ready to indulge in the gastronomic delights that await at Anassa’s poolside Pelagos restaurant.
Thirty nautical miles along the coast from Anassa, on the island’s western side, Thanos’ Almyra hotel is equally indulgent. As I sit at its waterside taverna, Ouzeri, the final rays of the blazing sunset provide a backlight for the overhanging crescent moon and Venus, which glistens with a reddish hue. I’m surprised that the restaurant staff don’t share my astonishment when one of the waiters places a Martini on the table before me; but then again, this is just a typical Tuesday night for a waterside restaurant in Paphos and evenings like this occur periodically throughout the country’s long season – a world away from any Med sunset I’ve seen, but this is just what Cyprus is like.Read More/The best superyachts to charter in the East Mediterranean
The food here is also an elevated blend of European flavours and more of an intermingled affair of mezze-style sharing plates that are centred around fish and halloumi. I’m in the capable hands of Ouzeri’s chef, Ioannis Gregoriou, who has delivered to my candlelit table a selection of red mullet with fennel and grapefruit, lemon-drenched dolmades and grilled swordfish served on a smoked aubergine dip. Plates piled high with food steadily accumulate at a pace that could keep you seated all night. The feast is accompanied by gentle live music and the sound of waves lapping just metres from the table. “This is what Cypriot food is all about,” says Thomas Trifillis, Almyra’s assistant manager, from across the table. “There is a social aspect that comes with the food-sharing culture here, and you’ll find it across the island.”
I experience this first-hand the very next day when I ask my taxi driver about his favourite Cypriot delicacies. “My sister makes the best kattimeri [a classic Cypriot sweet pastry] in the whole of Cyprus,” he says via the rear-view mirror, “I’ll show you,” he adds and turns off the main road down a small side street in Limassol. After quickly sharing my location with others back at the hotel to allay any nascent kidnap anxieties, we arrive at a small classically Cypriot townhouse, where my driver’s non-English-speaking sister beckons us out of the car and into the kitchen to try freshly baked kattimeri. Biting into the rolled-up pastry, which is filled with almonds, cinnamon and honey, I discover he is not wrong about his sister’s talents. You can find this sweet treat across the island, although you may need to befriend certain taxi drivers to discover the best in the country.
Cyprus is, after all, the island of Aphrodite – the Greek goddess of love and beauty – and its unspoiled coastline is full of both. Peppered with five-star properties and shiny new superyacht facilities, Cyprus feels like it can truly offer superyacht visitors the complete package. With its temperatures remaining warm right into November, it’s also the perfect location to extend the summer season. Just don’t tell too many people, or the pristine waters of Chrysochou Bay won’t be so peaceful for long.
First published in the April 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.