Road Trip to the Karpaz Peninsula

Today we set off on a two day road trip to the far north east of the island and then to the east coast. The Karpaz is the long arm of Cyprus sticking up into the sea, and most of it is entirely unspoilt, a farming scenery that hasn’t changed much in millenia. A lot of it is a reserve, development is very strictly controlled and there isn’t much. THe last part is a nature reserve and home to hundreds of wild donkeys, a type of Asian Ass.

The coast road runs along the northern shore and it’s a beautiful drive with the mountains to one side and the blue, blue sea to the other. A long series of coves and beaches, deserted, mostly turtle beaches. Yes, there are more holiday village developments around Esentepe and Tatlitsu but they are not the Karpaz. By the time you get there, you are in the boondocks.

Our first stop was Agias Trias ruined church a 6C Byzantine church with beautiful mosaic floors. It stands in peace amidst an olive and carob grove, just the sound of cicadas disturbing its silence. Once there must have been houses and a town around it but the signs of these are long gone except if you look closely at the lovely cut stones making up field boundaries and old local dwellings. Sadly, today it was closed when we got there, the gate padlocked. We could just see it 100 yards away.

Undeterred, on 10 minutes to the next stop which was Karpaz Gate Marina where we stopped for coffee and to use the loos which are excellent. It’s such a surprise to come across the marina, full of rather fabulous yachts of all types and with facilities that would look more at home in Marbella! It’s really posh and really nice.

Then we pressed on to the Karpaz proper, turning south at DipKarpaz to drive along the coast road towards the tip of the peninsula. We passed Blue Seas hotel where we normally stay and then into the reserve. A large snake wriggled across the road, we avoided it! The road surface took a turn for the worse here – loads of potholes which we had fun dodging. Eventually we got to the Sea Front restaurant, our lunch stop. It’s a fantastic place, right above a tiny cove, just a few feet to the sand. It’s run by a London Turkish Cypriot man and his wife. They ran a series of fish and chip shops in London and then returned to Cyprus to live and work and bought this place. We have eaten there many times and I literally dreamed of it when we were in darkest lockdown. I longed to be in that restaurant eating his calamari and chips!!!! I have no idea really exactly why that particular place came so strongly to mind, but perhaps it was just the feeling of space and freedom you get there looking out over the water…. Anyway, it was as good as ever. We had to go and look in the fridge at the fish he had and choose. We chose a big platter of small red mullet and a platter of calamari. They came with a large salad, a platter of the famous chips and a host of meze of course. We girls washed it down with a cold bottle of chenin blanc and the boys had cokes and we had bottles of water. With tip it came to £49 in total for 5. Really fantastic. As good as I’d remembered and the man and his wife are so lovely and friendly.

We continued on past the entrance to Golden Beach and up the hill into the wildlife sanctuary. At this point the donkeys started appearing, standing at the roadside hoping for a feed. I’d brought two lettuces and also had the remains of our lunchtime salad for them. We fed quite a few along the way. They are all looking well. Quite a few pregnant females and a couple of foals. We drove as far as St. Andreas Monastery and turned there. Fed a few more on the way back. Just outside the gates of the sanctuary is a pulloff which gives an absolutely amazing view over Golden Beach, in our view the best beach in Cyprus. It’s a stunning view of the long unspoilt sands. There are no structures or developments of any type allowed. It’s pristine.

We drove back down and then down the beach track where Tekos Eco Resort used to be. It was illegal and thus torn down several years ago. We’d brought beach mats and folding chairs and we set off across the sand to the sea. OOOOWWWWWW!!!! There used to be a wooden boardwalk there and now I know why! The sand was literally burning hot and we all had flip flop type sandals on except Bob who had crocs. I got out on the sand and by the time the pain hit, it was too late to go back. I don’t know how I made it to the water’s edge. Running didn’t really help because it got more sand in the shoes. It was agony. I got there…. Lucy and Daisy devised an ingenious system of throwing their beach towels in front, walking on them and repeat……

Once we got in the water though, everything was worthwhile. Bathwater warm, clear as crystal, pure sand in all directions. Absolutely idyllic. We wallowed away for 2+hours. Absolutely gorgeous. By the time we set off back to the cars at 430, it was better, and Leon had bravely been back to the car and got his trainers and lent them to me for the return trip.

We left the beach and drove to our hotel, Burhan’s Place, which is on a headland just past Blue Seas. In fact its next to Teco’s which is how they were both setout on Golden Beach, in their illegal eco days. Now, by goodness, some money has come to the fore as the two new hotels are very swish indeed. Nice bungalow rooms, stone walled and with balconies looking out to sea . There is a large infinity swimming pool. We enjoyed showering off the sand and salt. It is obviously all very new and I do have a bit of fear for it in that some of the fitments are not top quality, wobbly taps, very wobbly balcony rail etc. However, they are certainly a massive massive step above anything else in the area, that’s for sure. We paid £57 for a large a/c bungalow which would sleep 3, seaview and with a lovely wetroom bathroom and that included breakfast. Ditto Lucy and Leon. Daisy had the same bungalow for herself and they charged her £40.

Nice dinner overlooking the sea. Absolutely stunning views out across flat calm blue sea towards the Levant beyond the horizon. Like a mirror tonight.

Most of had steaks which were very nice – not as nice as Driftwood, but not bad. Bob had lamb chops which were definitely very good. We had a fruit plate for dessert, nice meze to start, wine. Then Turkish coffee with brandy and whisky and we played quite a few hands of cards. It was sooooooo hot still….. maybe still 35C at 11pm.

There was a bit of a fiasco with the air conditioning. Complete bewilderment from the staff as to why it wasn’t working in some rooms. In the end they got it all going. No idea what the problem was. Sigh…. Burhans has very nice staff and they are very willing but they are struggling to deal with a very new hotel with quite a lot of teething problems.