Protaras is a purpose-built tourist resort erected on flat, featureless scrubland next to the village of Paralimni. It is basically a tight grid of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and tourist shops surrounded by scores of holiday hotels and apartment blocks.
Landscaping is not a strong point; just a ragbag of kitsch architectural styles set in a sea of whitewashed concrete. It can get blisteringly hot in high summer and the hotel area streets are no place to feel the heat of the noonday Cyprus sun.
The lack of atmosphere and endless ranks of hotel rooms doesn't appear to bother holidaymakers who flock here by the thousand, lured by the package hotel holiday offers and the beautiful sandy beaches.
Vrisi is the main beach at Protaras. Actually, it's a 1.5km succession of beach strips variously called Protaras Beach, Flamingo Beach, Beach, Sunrise Beach, Golden Stay Beach — some names generic, some named after the nearest hotel.
Vrisi is just one long stretch of sand with no discernible markers between the sections. A wooden boardwalk at the back of the beach makes it easy to wander from one part to another.
Shallow water and a gentle, shelving coastline make Vrisi ideal for families with children, as does the almost endless array of watersports on offer. Several jetties along the shore are lined with pedaloes, jet skis and other water fun offerings.
Scores of restaurants and fast food outlets cater to the tourist taste for pizza, curry, bangers, burgers and chips. Most restaurants are tied to the local hotels offering 'international' cuisine.
Many of the local bars and cafes are run by British ex-pats with the odd home-grown Cypriot restaurant here and there. Visitors looking for something other than tasteless tourist fare will head inland to the nearby town of Paralimni where there is a far greater variety and some notable Cypriot restaurants.
South of Vrisi, beyond a small rocky cove, lies Fig Tree Bay, so-called after some ancient fig trees that once grew here but long since lost under a sea of hotel concrete.
Fig Tree Beach is considered one of the premiere beaches on Cyprus. A long crescent of soft golden sand is lapped by clear, shallow water, safe for children to paddle while adults indulge in all manner of water sports. An islet at the north end of the bay help keep the seas calm and is close enough to swim to.
Fig Tree beach has good road access and every kind of tourist amenity. Inevitably it gets packed in summer and, being popular with Cypriots, is pretty crowded in winter too. The beach has Blue Flag status so the sands are clean and there are lifeguards on duty for much of the summer season.
Between Fig Bay and Cape Greko is a 4 km stretch of rocks and cliffs with a few small sandy bays dotted here and there. About half-way, about 2km south of Fig Tree, is a deeply indented headland and a cluster of small but attractive beaches popular with those who prefer to escape the crowds on noisy Protaras and Ayia Napa.
The south-east facing beach at Nissia Loumbardi has good road access and amenities and is set in a large well enclosed bay. There is a small car park above the beach to the north where boats tie up to a long rock breakwater that curves around the bay.
A large hotel complex sits about the beach where sun loungers on terraces over looking the bay. The beach has a Blue Flag and their are amen ties at the hotel and at a small cafe. Excursion boats also favour stopping here so it is not always as quiet as you might expect.
Just over the headland to the south beyond another small car park is the smaller beach at Green Bay.
A short walk south from Nissia Loumbardi is the pleasant south-facing beach of Green Bay. Backed by trees and scrub, Green Bay sits at the head of a deep inlet on the south side of the long headland where boats cluster in a couple of well-protected coves.
Less easy to reach than its neighbour and at the end of a couple of dirt tracks, Green Bay remains a quiet beach that some find a welcome relief from the frantic sands at Protaras in the north and Ayia Napa in the east.
A single row of sunbeds squeezes onto the narrow sandy strip and a beach cantina often opens in the summer. The sea here is exceptionally clear and snorkellers can often be seen exploring the rock formations around this part of the coast.
South of Green Bay is the beautiful sheltered beach of Konnos Bay, considered by many to be one of the best beaches in Cyprus. By road it's about 3km south of Protaras and 2km east of Ayia Napa and must be one of the most picturesque beaches on Cyprus and well sheltered from the winds.
Konnos is well hidden from the road that links Protaras and Cape Greko, surrounded by steep hills that rise right around the cove. Woods are mainly pine, juniper and acacia and there are views from the beach to Cape Greko and to Agios Anargiroi church.
Konnos beach has golden sand and the water is very pleasant and shallow, although the currents can sometimes make it a bit murky in the summer. And summer can see the place packed, so it's a good idea to arrive very early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds at the height of the season.
Konnos beach has a Blue flag award so it is clean and safe. There plenty of water sports and visitors can enjoy cliff walks to the north to the popular Cyclops cave and to the south and the extraordinary cliffs of Cape Greko.
Potami is set in a tiny cove to the north of the Vrisi beach strip in Protaras. Potami means 'river' in Greek and a small stream runs out to sea in the tiny cove. The main road runs close to the beach and makes a U-turn at a small car park above the sands.
Potami is a north-east facing beach of good clean flat sand with low fingers of rock on either side. Scores of sunbeds are laid out on the grass of the large hotel complex behind the beach. A coastal path leads south past interesting rock formations to a jetty for small boats.
The water at Potami is shallow and safe for families with children. The beach has Blue Flag status and also has handicap facilities. There are coastal walks along the trails that lead both north and south.
Pernera Beach is a sandy beach in the next cove north of Potami. The beach is south-east facing and set in a small, enclosed bay with low hills on both sides and backed by large hotels. The main road runs straight down to the beach where there is a decent sized car park.
The beach is very sandy and all the usual amenities are here including water sports and sunbeds. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer season and the beach is also suitable for the disabled. There are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.
Just around the headland to the south of Pernera, along a coastal path past scores of hotel sun loungers, is the small sandy cove of Marlita, also called Karas beach, where there is a pleasant, gentle slope of good sand.
Louma is a double beach with two long stretches of sand facing each other on either side of a well protected bay and divided by a stony area with low rock outcrops.
The north facing beach is called Louma Beach while the slightly smaller south facing beach is known by the anglicised name Golden Bay. Together, they make this the longest beach strip in the north part of Protaras and lie just north of Pernera Beach.
The central, rocky area can look rather scruffy, but the main sandy areas are clean and pleasant. Both beaches are well protected in an enclosed bay , with a low headland to the south and a long sea wall on the northern side. Just over the headland to the north, beyond the white chapel, is a very attractive fishing port and a large car park.
There is easy road access to the beach and the usual beach amenities. The seas here are shallow here, well protected and with Blue Flag status so good beaches for families with young children.
Vrysoudion or Vrysoudia lies in a very small cove about halfway between the beaches of Louma and Ayia Trias. Vrysoudion means 'springs' in Greek Cypriot' and there is a small creek here that runs down to the bay, presumably fed by spring water.
The beach is dominated by the Crystal Springs beach hotel complex and, unlike most Protaras beaches, Vrysoudion is mostly pebble and stone, although there is some sand.
Trees and bushes line the back of the narrow beach to give natural shade and rocky breakwaters help keep the beach well sheltered.
There is parking on the main road with a small track threads its way down to the beach between the hotels. Coastal walking trails head both north and south.
Ayia Trias or Agia Triada is a well sheltered sandy beach with good road access about 4km north of Protaras. The enclosed bay has an attractive fishing boat harbour on the southern side and, above the harbour is the small modern church that gives the beach its name.
The area surrounding Agia Trias is fairly flat in contrast to the rocky hills seen to the north of the beach. Two parallel roads run down to the beach at the north and south ends with flat, low scrubland between them.
The beach has all the normal tourist facilities and there are good walking trails both north and south with the northern trails heading through wild and rocky countryside right up to the buffer zone
North of Ayia Trias the landscape gets wilder and rockier. The small cove at Malama, also called Skoutari has a narrow strip of sand with sea eroded cliffs to the north and shoreline large rocks to the south.
Two fingers of rock create a very and well protected 'sea pool' that is very shallow for some distance out so this is a great beach for families with children, although only basic amenities are found here.
The beach is small so it can get crowded in the summer. There is car parking above the beach and its a steep walk down the scrub covered slope behind the beach. Cliff caves to the north and large rocks and boulders to the south give added interest. A clifftop path leads to the buffer zone 2-3km to the north.
Kapparis beach is the last cove with a sandy beach before the buffer zone between north and south Cyprus. It is a very small beach with about three rows of sunbeds with steep cliffs and rocks to the south and rocky outcrops to the north.
Kapparis is also called Maad or even Firemen's beach as police and fire services M.A.A.D has a headquarters nearby and Kapparis is used for sea rescue training. A steep paved slipway runs right down to the beach from the car park above.
The surrounding area is very scenic and this is a good area for walking trails and for interesting rock formations and caves. The beach is sandy and the water shallow but there are underwater rocks further out to sea.