The amazing sea caves of Ayia Napa
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A very special place on the island of Cyprus
The island republic of Cyprus, located in the Mediterranean Sea, offers everything that anyone could ask for: amazing forests, ancient archeological sites, breathtaking waterfalls, diverse nightlife, and beautiful beaches. Amongst all those things, Ayia Napa must be considered one of the most special places on the island. Although a lot of people compare the city of Ayia Napa, with its rich nightlife scene, to party-places like Ibiza or Mallorca, it has one particular landscape that must not be missed: The Ayia Napa Sea Caves. Located on the southeastern side of the island, close to Cape Greco National Forest Park, these caves were formed over centuries by the erosion of rocks caused by waves crashing against the cliffs.
How to get to the Ayia Napa Sea Caves
When visiting the island of Cyprus, most journeys, such as the one my wife and I took, will most likely start at the capital, Larnaca. From there, you will have two main options to travel to the Ayia Napa Sea Caves. The easiest and most flexible option is driving yourself. However, after researching the situation, I learned that the roads, particularly those close to the sea caves, are bumpy, sandy dirt roads. Knowing this, my wife and I decided to still drive ourselves, but rent a quad instead of a car. Besides being way more fun than a car, a quad is also much cheaper (roughly $30 US per day). Additionally, the parking is way easier – we were able to squeeze into smaller gaps or simply park on narrower roadside areas that were not big enough for cars.
The second option involves taking public transportation from Larnaca to Ayia Napa and booking a boat trip to the caves. The initial bus trip is quite cheap and only costs about $5 US. However, boat trips start somewhere around $45 US. Another thing to keep in mind is that it can be time-consuming to match bus itineraries with boat departures. On the more positive side, the boats will give you a much better access and angle on the caves.
Arriving at the Ayia Napa Sea Caves
Our drive was hot, mildly windy, and extremely dusty. One thing we hadn’t considered about our adventurous quad journey was the lack of protection against sand and dirt when driving. Especially during the final 5-min stretch, the amount of sand in our faces from vehicles ahead of us was only tolerable if we kept a good distance. When we reached the parking lot, we parked the quad and walked towards the horizon. At this point, it looked pretty unimpressive. All we could see was a sandy landscape and the ocean in the distance. We stopped, took a selfie, and continued walking. Then suddenly, the full beauty of the Ayia Napa Sea Caves revealed itself and everything changed. Only after stepping really close to the edge of the cliff could we see the caves below. The feeling was indescribable.
Small waves crashed into the cliffs below us. The water shone in the most perfect blue and turquoise colors – almost unreal. Some of the caves were visible, others not so much, since they were located right underneath us. This view was only for those approaching with a boat, or those like me, who had a drone at the time. The aerial view revealed an even more impressive picture when pointing the camera from the ocean towards the land. We stared at the display on my cell phone while taking pictures with the drone, looked up into the sky, and then at each other. No words were needed to know that both of us desperately wanted to be in the water. The problem was just that there was no official way down.
Finding a way into the turquoise ocean
To our left was a cave halfway between the plateau and the water level. It seemed easily accessible, since a few people, including a newlywed couple, were standing inside of it. But after getting closer, we saw that this was as far down as it would get; there was still no way to reach the water. We turned around and walked west alongside the cliff, over a very rocky surface.
Eventually, we reached cracks that were too big to jump over, so we had to turn back and find a way around them. We kept walking close to the rocky edge of the cliff to look out for potential descents, and eventually, we found one. It didn’t look particularly easy or safe, but we tried anyways. And lucky us, we succeeded and got rewarded with an amazing spot all to ourselves.
A private little beach at the Ayia Napa Sea Caves
Once we reached the water’s edge, we put our towels down on some flat rocks (I never thought that a rock, when shaped the right way, could be so comfortable). The best thing about this spot was the fact that the ground was flat and smooth, gradually reaching into the water.
The waves were quite small that day, which made a big difference, since entering the water still represented a bit of a challenge. Slipping could have been harmful due to the sharp edges of some rocks below the water’s surface. However, with solid water shoes and a reasonable sense of safety, it wasn’t an issue at all! I couldn’t wait any longer and evaluated the safest way into the paradise-like blue. The way to go was a jump straight from the edge of the flat plateau into the warm water.
Once successfully done (and without any injury), my wife followed. Some people up on the cliffs spotted us and also tried to make their way down, but turned around halfway through the descent. Not only did we now have a private little spot all to ourselves, we could also leave our belongings on land while taking a refreshing swim in the shimmering ocean, which gave us an amazing view of the caves that we did not get from above.
Half a day is enough at Ayia Napa Sea Caves
Although this place is truly one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen, spending from a few hours to half a day there is definitely enough, unless you want to pack lots of food and drinks in a cooler (which most people don’t have when traveling to an island). The area itself is kept entirely natural, meaning there are no bars, eateries, or refreshments of any kind. Once the car is parked, it’s just you, nature, and most likely lots of unforgiving sunlight. After we reached our private little area, we were only able to spend an hour and a half there, even with 2 liters of water each. It’s important not to underestimate the potential dangers of dehydration in such places. However, it’s always possible to take a short drive (5-10 minutes) back to more developed tourist areas to stock up on food and drinks if needed.
Don’t miss out on the Ayia Napa Sea Caves
It’s safe to say that visiting the Ayia Napa Sea Caves is a must-do when visiting the island of Cyprus. Not only is it super easy to get there, it will also reward you with one of the most picturesque landscapes you have ever seen…all without even having to pay an entrance fee.
Book your stay in Ayia Napa, Cyprus
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Thomas Später, PhD, is an experienced backpacking traveler that specializes in adventurous trips around the globe. He has traveled to remote and exotic places, such as Namibia or Mongolia and focuses on landscape and wildlife photography to share the beauty of our planet with others. In 2021, Thomas published a (German) book about Overpopulation and Over-consumption (Die Überbevölkerung). With his awareness of current global issues, he uses his travels to support particularly local hotels and restaurants to raise awareness for the nature and culture of his destinations. Follow Thomas´ adventures on Instagram as well as on his website, World In Frames.