Protaras is a tourist resort area in the southeast of Cyprus, east of Ayia Napa, with east-facing beaches. In contrast, Ayia Napa’s beaches are mostly south facing, by virtue of the geography of the Cape Greco peninsula, Protaras being on the east side of the peninsula, and Ayia Napa being on the west side. The peninsula is small, which makes the distance between the two tourist areas short: about nine kilometers (a ten-minute drive).
Protaras is the name of a beach, the name of a bay, and the name of a wider area which encompasses about a half dozen beaches, including the aforementioned Protaras Beach. Protaras Beach is on (surprise surprise) Protoras Bay.
Protaras Bay is 1.5 kilometers wide and cuts inland for about 300 meters deep, giving it the shape of an elongated “C.” Indeed, the “C” is even facing in the correct direction. Protaras Bay’s shoreline is punctuated by six jetties, at which a number of pleasure craft, excursion and fishing boats moor.
Protaras resort is a planned tourist center which was built near the village of Paralimni, and is inside Paralimni’s municipal boundaries. It is sort of a hodge-podge grid of hotels and apartments which surround an area packed with shops, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. Aesthetically, this is no Mykonos or Santorini, but it does provide the frugal holiday maker with a cheap destination and excellent beaches, which, truth be told, is what most vacationers are after.
Protaras Beach, is just north of Fig Tree Bay, which is a shallow inland extension of the larger Protaras Bay. Protaras is a longer, straighter piece of coastline sand than Fig Tree. Fig Tree and Protaras Beaches together make up the totality of the Protaras Bay shoreline- the inside of the “C,” if you will. The two beaches are separated by 150 meters of rocky shoreline between the long sandy beaches whose promenade is an old-fashioned boardwalk.
One of the busiest in the Protaras area, this Blue flag beach has shallow waters and good snorkeling. As a bonus, it’s just a short walk from the commercial center of the resort. The sand, as the sand at Fig Tree, is soft and the color of brown sugar. All kinds of water sports are available- there’s even a semi-submarine with a little water slide on its deck which will send you right into the Bay’s aquamarine waters and a lower deck lined with windows so you can see the water life through them when the boat submerges, leaving the cabin submerged and the deck above the water.
The whole area has taken its cue from the roaring tourist success that is Ayia Napa, with a difference: the emphasis is more on family-friendly holidays, rather than the wild, 18-30 crowd to which Ayia Napa caters.
Best hotels in Protaras
A Little History
Protaras contains the site of the ancient city-state of Leukolla, 3.5 kilometers south of Protoras Beach. Leukolla was the site of an important naval battle in 306 BC, where the forces of Demetrius Poliorketes defeated those of Ptolemy of Egypt. The warring parties represented two of the four factions vying for Alexander’s vast kingdom after Alex’s untimely death. Ptolemy was head of one of the four factions, and Demetrius Poliorketes was representing the interests of his father, leader of another of the four factions. The father had the delightful name of Antigonus Monothalmos (One-Eyed).
The harbor for Leukolla was likely Konnos Bay, which is historians’ best guess, since the geographer Strabo, who passed by here some 350 years after the battle took place, identifies Leukolla as being between Famagusta (ancient Arsinoe) and Cape Greco (ancient Cape Pedalion). It’s by far the most sheltered place along the 25-kilometer stretch of coastline between the two places, which, by the way, is one of the great selling points of today’s Konnos Beach.
Ruins have been found above the bay, and it is speculated that this is Leukolla, the town mentioned by Athenaeus, a general serving Demetrius Poliorketes, the guy who eventually sent Ptolemy packing after besting him in the sea battle. Athenaeus, obviously one of those generals who kept a journal, mentions that the trireme belonging to Antigonus Monothalmos, the father of victorious young Poliorketes, was dedicated to the sky god Apollo at Leukolla. Some excavations of the site in 1877 uncovered an inscription dedicated to Apollo, as well as the ruins of a sanctuary. Other than that work, the site is completely unexcavated.