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I have just returned from my honeymoon in Protaras, Cyprus and we have had a fantastic time. I will review the hotel that we stayed in separately (Capo Bay Hotel).
Protaras is on the East side of Cyprus, near to Ayia Napa. It is in the Paralimni/Famagusta area. Protaras is purely a holiday spot, it closes from November to March and I mean CLOSES! But more of that later on. Protaras is next to Ayia Napa, but it is family orientated and does not attract the gangs of lads that Ayia Napa does. We were there for two weeks, one of which was half-term and the place was packed with families.
Protaras is a modern, purpose-built resort located 14km east of Ayia Napa. The resort stretches over 6km along the sandy-beached coastline, interspersed with rocky coves. The resort has two main focal points - Fig Tree Bay and Pernera Beach - where the majority of hotels and bars are to be found. Protaras attracts families and couples wanting to enjoy the stunning beaches of the eastern coastline but without the frenetic nightlife of neighbouring Ayia Napa!
The fine beaches shelve gently into the sea and so are particularly good for families with children.
We travelled with Argo (who were useless and I would not travel with them again, we never saw our rep once!).
We stayed at the Capo Bay Hotel which is near the lower end of the strip. Our hotel was right on the beach of the fantistic Fig Tree Bay. I have written a separate review on that to include more detail in each review.
Protaras has a great selection of bars, tavernas and supermarkets/souvenir shops. There is really something for everybody there.
My favourites were:
Only Friends Pub +++++++++++++
this is a bar which serves English food and plays non-stop dvd's of Friends tv show. This was a great bar to go to. The staff were lovely and friendly and as with all greek places, the more you go, the better they treat you. We were even given free food when they had a staff barbecue. The food was served very quickly and was very cheap, around £4 (cypriot) for an omelette or jacket potato.
Nicolas Tavern ++++++++++++
this is a traditional Cypriot taverna which serves fantastic Cypriot food, cooked in a real clay oven. The service was fantastic and we were given free brandy, salad and desserts, the more that we went there. Nicolas is very proud of his oven and his food. My husband had Kleftiko (lamb roasted for 8 hours) and it was so tender. I had chicken breast, stuffed with mushrooms. All meals are served with vegetables, rice and potatoes.
The only trouble was we could never fit in a dessert as we were too full from the huge meals that they served up!
Diva is a "posher" restaurant, which was recommended to us by the locals. They said that it is expensive, but you get what you pay for and that this fish is so fresh it is practically swimming on your plate!
The Love Boat ++++++++++++
The selection of food here was good, although mainly English. The entertainment was the main thing here. We were able to "see" Robbie Williams, Tina Turner, Kylie Minogue, Tom Jones and Elvis. (Elvis is very popular in Cyprus). This place was extremely popular with families, and also did Kareoke.
These were just our favourite places. There were loads more, all selling good English food and great cocktails. Another popular bar was Only Fools & Horses, which showed the tv show, along with football. There were a lot of kareoke places and also several Elvis bars!
FOOD +++++ When I go abroad I do like to eat different foods and not just eat pie and chips every night, but if that is what you are looking for, then you will not be disappointed as there is plenty of English food available. There are also several Cypriot tavernas and restaurants which sell a great variety of food.
There is a Pizza Hut and a McDonalds in Protaras. The "golden arches" can be seen for miles around, which is a shame. I must admit that we did go to Pizza Hut one night as I craved a decent Hawaiin pizza and it does taste just like home. They must ship the frozen pizzas out there, ready to cook!
Our hotel was on the fantastic Fig Tree Bay beach, which is rated as one of the best in Europe. It has a blue flag and two lifeguards watching over you.
The tide is minimal, and the waves are small but powerful. The beach shelves quite steeply initially, which gives the minimal tide. There are plenty of sun loungers (which you have to pay for)
There is a great selection of watersports. Stavros is very friendly and helpful. There is the banana, the ringo, parasailing, boat hire, pedalo hire and much more.
The beach is down some quite steep steps, but there is also disable access ramp.
There are other beaches all the way along the strip with the other hotels.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT ++++++++++++++++++
This is widely available in the form of buses and taxis and is quite cheap.
There are a lot of supermarkets and souvenir shops along the strip. There are also opticians, book-makers and clothes shops. If you want "real" shopping however, you will need to go into Larnaca or Paphos. However when I go on holiday it is not for the shops, so it did not bother me. I was able to buy some cheap presents to take home. The cigarettes and alcohol here is extremely cheap. 200 cigarettes costs around £22 and wine can be bought for £2 per bottle or £1 for a litre carton!
MAGIC DANCING WATERS ++++++++++++++++++++++
This is described as "a magical show which is a spectacular combination of dancing lasers, laser show, volcanic eruptions, fire and smoke show".
This is a very accurate description. We paid £5 each to go in and the show lasted for one and a half hours. It was fantastic, lasers, and water fountains bathed in lights along with real flames and fire. It was really breathtaking and I would recommend a visit.
CHURCH WITH GREAT VIEWS +++++++++++++++++++++++++
On the outskirts of Protaras is a small attractive stone church set atop a rocky crag - the Church of Ayios Ilias. It is well worth a walk to the church and the climb to the top. From the top there is a panoramic view of Protaras and the surrounding countryside. According to the guide books there are 171 steps up to it. I didn't count them but it did not seem that far and was well worth it for the views.
DAY TRIPS AND THE REST OF THE ISLAND +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
We went on a jeep safari to Northern Cyprus. Our driver was a refugee from the North and we heard in great detail about how the turks invaded and destroyed everything. We had to take our passports and be issued with a visa as it is treated as a separate country by the turks. We went to the ghost town of Famagusta and walked on the beach in front of empty destroyed hotels, whilst being watched by gun-toting Turks which was a bit scary. No photos are allowed there. We also went to Kyrenia which was nice, we went up through the mountains to get there which was a bit scary too!
We also went on a bus trip to Paphos which included the Kourion ampitheatre and mosaics in Paphos.
It is worth going over to the Northern part of the island just to see what it is like. You won't believe your eyes with the ghost town being so empty and destroyed. It is very unfriendly over there, nobody looks at you or speaks.
A lot of refugees live in the Famagusta area as it is the closest that they can get to where they lived before the 1974 invasion. These people ended up with nothing. They fled the northern part of the island under threat of murder and rape and left behind everything. A lot of people went missing and were never seen again. In the ghost villages, the tables are still set for breakfast that will never be eaten. We heard of one man who had just finished paying a 30-year loan on a hotel that never even opened. These people want to get back their land and their homes, but are realistic that it may never happen.
It is well worth researching into this on the internet as it is a fascinating subject and having talked to some refugees I want to find out more about it now.
DOWN SIDE OF STAYING THERE IN LAST WEEK OF SEASON! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Whilst I would recommend Protaras to anybody, I would not recommend that they stay there in late October. The weather was ok, on one day it was 32C. But the hotel officially closed on 31 October, as did the resort. A lot of pubs had their final night on Saturday 29 October and from then on, we were watching them close daily.
Protaras is purely a holiday resort. No locals live there, so when it closes, it closes completely. By the 6 November when we left, Protaras was nearly in darkness! Most of the hotels were shut, all of the villas were closed up and the restaurants all followed suit.
So if you go there, make sure it is no later that middle of October!
I would really recommend Protaras, it is a family resort, with fantastic beaches. The resort is clean and tidy and the people there take a pride in looking after it and serving the tourists. It is on a one-way system as well, not that the locals take much notice of that!