Paphos is a fast growing holiday resort in south-west of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. An area with more than 50 kilometres of coastline has nearly 30 beaches, nearly half with blue flag awards for their clean sands. In the south, beach hotels dominate but away from the holiday centres the sands vary from small, deserted coves to windswept dunes of the Akamas and the sedate sands of Polis and Latchi.
The port area of Kato Paphos has grown considerably since the airport was built nearby. Tourist hotels have mushroomed along the coast and the centre heaves with tourists from May to October.
A palm tree-lined promenade curves right around the bay edged on one side by the busy main road and with a concrete wall on the seaward side. There is just one one small strip of sand, the municipal beach, heavily loaded with sunbeds.
The promenade ends at the picturesque, traffic-free harbour area which is stuffed with restaurants and cafes, a small museum and a squat medieval fort are perched on the point. The harbour is usually chock-full of yachts.
Cafes, bars, tavernas and boutiques have multiplied to feed the booming tourist trade. To be blunt, Kato Paphos feels about as Cypriot as Clacton. This is a resort tailor-made for the British chasing that foreign tan in a home-from-home setting.
Restaurants run the gamut, from mock-British pubs to mock-Continental bars, from Mexican and Indian to pie and chips. And the chips, like the tinned veg, are ubiquitous. Oh, and it has a McDonald's, a KFC and a Pizza Hut — but so does Stoke-on-Trent.
It's rather more attractive than Stoke, of course, with a very attractive harbour area that is crowned with a small fort. Pelicans strut around the harbour and among the holidaymakers while scores of boats of all sizes bob in the large enclosed bay.
The town beach may be a small, scrappy affair but most visitors tend to spend the day on the hotel beaches to the east and wander into town for a stroll and a meal.
The upper part of of the resort at Ano Pafo, also called Ktima, is mostly a suburban sprawl of concrete with narrow main streets a virtual log-jam of cars. It is the city's administrative centre with town hall, library and museums all housed in impressive colonial buildings.
For the visitor the main attraction of Ano Paphos (Ktima) is the shops which sell designer wear clothes, shoes and jewellery. The area also has an interesting market with herb sellers and lace shops as well as the usual tourist tat found in street markets.
The main roads are heavy with traffic and there are few cafes and tavernas as not many tourists venture here. Most intercity buses arrive and depart from Ano Pafos and local buses, mainly number 11, will take you down the hill to the harbour.
Most Paphos holiday hotels are strung along the coast to the east of the centre and form the main Paphos hotel beach strip>. A modern road runs into Kato Paphos and there are regular buses, while taxis cruise the hotel strip looking for trade.
Most hotels have a small beach area but most of the shore is rock and shingle with small patches of sand here and there. Rock barriers have been built to provide shelter and anchorage for boats.
The waters around Paphos are as clean and inviting as anywhere on the island, particularly compared to the relatively dreary beaches of Limassol and Larnaka.
Just about all the local beaches have Blue Flag status which means they are both clean and safe. Most of the beaches have been commandeered by hotels but there are a couple of public beaches along the coast just out of town.
The shore is generally free of the big breakers you get on the north coast and, being close to the hotels there are plenty of tourist facilities such as sunbeds and sea sports.
The popular beach at CORAL BAY is 4km north of Paphos and well marked from the coast road. If you don't mind regimented ranks of sunbeds and heaving crowds it's a splendid beach of good sand sitting beneath a small, steep cliff bluff.
Large car parks on both sides of the road above testify to its popularity and the crowds can be fearsome in high summer. Seas are shallow and sandy so it's fine for children and this is a popular family beach.
There is no shortage of watersports and other entertainment — you can even get massage. There is also a large cafe overlooking the beach that offers chips, burgers, cola and irritating pop music — oh, and chips.
The resort is aimed at the family package holiday so there are plenty of activities on offer — jeep safaris into the hills, walking, cycling and sailing are all available as well as scuba diving.
About 1km before you get to Coral Bay there is a road sign pointing to the Adonis Falls where there is a 10ft waterfall that cascades into a small pool. You can pay to splash about in it.
Further north from Coral Bay is the small beach at Agios Georgios in a beautiful setting below steep cliffs. The small sandy beach is sheltered from the sea by a large enclosed harbour. It looks good for swimming but a sign warns of stiff fines for anyone taking a dip.
To the south of the harbour is an expanse of flat rock and to the north, for those seeking solitude, there are cliffs path and beach coves to explore. The rocky islet of Geronisos adds offshore interest and a taverna overlooks the whole lot sitting on the edge on the cliff above and next to the splendid Agios Georgios chapel.
North of Agios Georgios the road turns into a dirt track and Lara Bay heralds the entrance to the wild region of the Akamas peninsular. The beach of sand and shingle is very long and deep with wide scrub-littered flatlands behind.
This is a major turtle nesting site and visitors are asked to take extra care on the beach. There are few facilities here and no sunbeds but there is a large taverna at the southern end of the bay that puts out brollies in a small cove over the headland. Lara beach is ideal for those looking to escape the crowds.
The main resort on the north coast has been spared the rampant tourist development of the south and POLIS caters more for the independent traveller although there are plenty of big-name tour operators here. It has a pleasant, genteel, laid-back air.
The compact village is 2km from the coast and has a traffic-free centre packed full of very fine tavernas and cafes. The number of pavement tables testifies to the popularity of the place with day trippers.
The long, sandy beach at Polis is backed by pine woods and in the shade is a large beach cantina, showers, toilets and a few sunbeds scattered over the beach of mostly soft sand and a few pebbles. There is a large campsite nearby.
There are more beaches to the east but they tend to be scruffy and isolated. At the strung-out village of Pomos there are a couple of restaurants behind a sheltered pebble beach and at Kalinoussa , just over the headland, there is better swimming to be found and some beach umbrellas for hire.
To the west of Polis, along a new coast road, is the beach resort of Latchi, also calledLatsi or Lakki . It is not much more than a string of shops and tavernas at the roadside road with two very long beaches stretching out into the distance on either side of a small harbour.
It's a pleasant enough spot with deep, flat sand on the western side and a narrower and stonier strip to the east. There are plenty of facilities. A large car park indicates the resort's popularity with day trippers, many of them off to see the much-touted but slightly disappointing Baths of Aphrodite that lie just up the road.
Latchi is very popular with divers, there is a scuba centre in Latchi and diving takes place along the Akamas peninsula. The pretty village of Polis is only 5km away.
The scenic beauty of the area is spectacular, with coastal cliffs at Cape Pomos and pine and cedar forests carpeting the mountains behind. There are any number of deserted beaches just a short drive away and interesting villages nestle in the surrounding hillsides.