Experience the Raw Beauty of Akamas
On the westernmost part of Cyprus, in the Paphos region, lies a rugged paradise far away from the club scene’s ear-splitting sounds of the latest summer dance hits.
Spanning over 230 square metres, the Akamas Peninsula – named after the mythical son of Theseus – is one of the island’s last remaining wildernesses, hanging on by the skin of its teeth to an unofficial National Park status and thereby escaping the rapid property development fever that has exploded in Cyprus over the years.
Remote sandy beaches, deep valleys and gorges, and a stunning coastline attract hundreds of visitors each year. The area is rich in Greek history and mythology dating back 3,000 years, and it can be seen with almost every step. The landscape seems at times like it was created in a hurry, with steep, sharp barren cliffs jutting out of crystal-clear blue waters suddenly giving way to pine trees and vegetation.
The peninsula’s abundant biodiversity plays a crucial part in the ecology of the Mediterranean. It is home to 128 endemic plant species, 168 varieties of birds, 20 reptile species, 16 types of butterflies, and 12 species of mammals.
Exploring Akamas is best done using a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as access to most parts of the area is by dirt roads alone.
If you are a cycling enthusiast, then you can ride the route from Ayios Georgios to the Akamas Lighthouse or visit the nesting grounds of the Loggerhead turtle at Lara beach and ride up to the Baths of Aphrodite.
There are plenty of hiking trails for those of you who want to go on a walkabout in the area, but make sure you take plenty of water and some food, and avoid hiking during the hot summer months. And for those who are short on time, here are our favourite places to visit.
Located around 30 kilometres north of the coastal city of Paphos, this beautiful and remote sandy beach boasts clean and calm waters, making it ideal for those wanting to escape crowded tourist beaches.
Lara beach is one of the last remaining nesting grounds for the endangered Loggerhead and Green turtles and, because of this, has been protected by the Cyprus government since 1971. Visitors should take note that driving on the beach, as well as using loungers and umbrellas, is strictly forbidden.
The turtles lay their eggs in the sand during the hot summer months, and these eggs hatch a couple of months later, usually at night. The eggs are monitored by volunteers who also collect them and place them in special hatcheries to ensure the maximum number of hatchlings survive. Special cages have been installed to protect the fragile eggs; these must be avoided at all times. You can visit the beach using a 4WD car or by boat from Paphos.
This impressive gorge is found around 20 kilometres north of Paphos. A slow, steady stream of water has carved out 30 metres of limestone over thousands of years to create this incredible natural habitat.
Navigate a 2.5 kilometre nature trail that follows the Avgas River deep inside the gorge, where you will come across rare plants and flowers, reptiles, and even wild mountain goats. The last part of the trail is literally inside the stream, so take care while walking along the slippery stones.
Avoid entering the gorge during rainfall – the water level may rise abruptly. Avakas Gorge is also a protected area, so avoid lighting fires and smoking, and take any rubbish away with you. Cutting or collecting plants and disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
Baths of Aphrodite
This is a natural grotto where, according to legend, the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, would bathe. It is located near the fishing village of Latchi, towards the tip of the Akamas.
According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite met her lover Adonis at this spot when he stopped for a drink of water during a hunt. It is said he fell in love with the goddess the moment he drank the water in which she had bathed.
Located near Cape Arnaoutis, this is one of the most beautiful coastal areas on the island. Its turquoise waters are so clear you can see the bottom of the sea while your boat floats on the surface. The beach is accessible by foot, bike or 4WD car, but to truly experience the beauty of this area, we suggest you embark on a boat tour from the nearby town of Latchi.