Prepare your very best beach wardrobe, because when it comes to prepping a list of things to do in Ayia Napa, coastal adventures take the top spots time and again. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We’re not talking a fortnight flumping on a sun lounger here. No, Ayia Napa’s roster of sea, sun and sand comes with underwater adventures that go beyond spotting a couple of small crabs on the sea bed. Sculptures, cargo-filled wrecks and sea caves tick the adventure boxes, while peaceful strolls through pine woods, rock-carved buildings and carefully curated museums take care of the “I wasn’t expecting that” factor.
Swim through sea sculptures
Of all the things to do in Ayia Napa, MUSAN has to be the most visually stunning – and ambitious project so far. Art installations by Jason De Caires Taylor rise up from the sea floor – while fish, turtles and crustaceans look on curiously from the nearby protected marine area. Grab your snorkel – or your scuba gear – to swim down to this man-made, underwater world. Visibility can reach as far as 20m – so no need for FOMO if you’re not the best snorkeler. And, you can revel in a smidge of eco-smugness as The Museum of Underwater Sculpture (Ayia Napa) is aiming to do far more than just lob a few statues in the sea. There are hopes that this will become the world’s first underwater forest, with subterranean plants creating an eco-system for Ayia Napa’s endangered sea life.
Forest bathe in the Cape Greco National Park
Just east of Ayia Napa, the Cape Greco National Park is a flora-filled space to revel in. And, for some, it’s a place to tick off some Cyprus rarities. Eagle-eyed botanists should take care where they tread. 14 endemic plant species hide among the vegetation on the forest floor. And, if you look to the skies, over 50 species of birds flit between the branches. Explore and follow one of the many trails on foot, by bike or on horseback and expect to see some wildlife along the way too. Lizards, porcupines and butterflies all call the forest home.
Orbzii tip: For a trail that combines pine-scented forest paths with gorgeous panoramic views. Take the short – but scenic, 1.2km nature trail for a walk that combines the best of the park – and links up with Ayia Napa’s sea cave trail.
Drop to Atlantis
At first glance, it might seem foolish to swap sweeping stretches of sandy shoreline for Ayia Napa’s water park. But the thrills and spills you’ll find at WaterWorld pair perfectly with the hedonistic adventures you’ll find on the strip. Get your adrenaline rushes, serotonin boosts and endorphin highs from Apollos Plunge, Zephyr’s Breeze or the Drop to Atlantis – all slides that need a fair amount of bravery to take on. Or, if your time on the Ayia Napa nightlife scene has left you feeling a little fragile, a gentle bob along the lazy river will cure (almost) all ills. Fun, with a capital F.
Swim into the Blue Lagoon
Despite all the glitz and neon glam of the strip, the best things to do in Ayia Napa are the simplest. And, there are few simpler pleasures in this corner of Cyprus than the Blue Lagoon. A nook of water that’s rich in blue hues and craggy rock formations, this is the spot to swim, snorkel and sunbathe in. There are no beaches here – so you’re looking at hopping on a boat trip or becoming a skipper for a day and hiring your own boat. Expect the waters to be busy in peak season. The Love Bridge is one of Ayia Napa’s most photographed sea arches.
Take on the Pyrgos Xylofagou cycle route
Near year-round sunshine, mountain routes and mile after mile of tarmac attracts cyclists to Cyprus for cycling holidays – and race training. All of which is within easy reach from Ayia Napa, if you’re in the market for some gruelling distances. But, if you just want to keep yourself in the saddle on holiday, there’s a rather charming 32km loop ride that starts right in Ayia Napa. The Pyrgos Xylofagou cycle route starts in the harbour, heading north-west. You’ll swing by Makronissos, the Agia Thekla chapel and the Potamos Liopetriou fishing shelter before sweeping around Cape Pylato and heading back to the harbour.
Explore Ayia Napa’s sea caves
If you loved the Blue Lagoon, Ayia Napa has more shoreline stunners to stare at. Accessible from both land and ocean, the island’s sea caves form part of the Cape Greco National Park. Hike along the nature trail to get here, or potter in by boat to see tunnels, caves and rock formations – all framed by those ridiculously blue waters. Most people tend to swim or snorkel in the caves – though do expect to see a plucky few cliff jumpers taking very risky dives from the top. Fishing is the far more sedate pursuit on offer. Better still, people watching from the nets of a chartered catamaran adds a touch of Napa luxe to the day.
Seek out shade in the monastery
Let’s be clear. There’s more to this monastery than merely being a place to shelter from the sun. Yes, the cool, rock-hewn walls are ever-so tempting when Ayia Napa’s sun climbs to its make-up melting highs. But core temperatures aside for a moment, the ancient arches, hidden cave and intricate wall carving are worth a look. Drop by in the late evening for a reflective mooch around the monuments, chapel and trees. Or pop in when one of the island’s religious festivals is taking place to see a very different side to these imposing walls.
Dive into the Zenobia wreck
If you’re in Ayia Napa – and have the requisite number of PADI hours under your diving belt, don’t miss the chance to dive the Zenobia with Ocean View Dive. Ranked as one of the world’s best wreck dives, there’s over 170 metres of hull to explore. The stricken ferry sank to the sea bed in the 1980s on her maiden voyage. Still intact, technical divers can access the ships car deck where you’ll find over 100 lorries to swim by and investigate. Of course, a wreck of this size idling in the depths for so long has attracted the eye of surrounding sea life looking for a new home. Expect to see much more than the slowly decaying ferry.
Go coastal …
Nissi is the Ayia Napa beach everyone flocks to. THE stretch of sand to be seen on in Napa, it has its merits, but if you stick to just one sun lounger in this town, you’re missing out. Skip the bustling sands of Nissi and take a stroll west. Two bays along the coast, you’ll find Landa beach. Nissi’s quieter, cheaper, calmer cousin still comes with facilities and food options – just expect everything to be a touch more low key. Keep heading west and you’ll find Makronissos beach – which happens to also be an archaeological site. Sunbathing and exploring tombs rarely goes hand-in-hand. Take the opportunity while you can.
Max out on marine knowledge at the Thalassa Municipal Museum
Yes, your Ayia Napa itinerary is weighted a little too heavily towards the sea. But, when you’re this close to the coast, it pays to make the most of it. And, there will come a time when you just want an hour or two without sand between your toes. When that moment hits, nip into the Thalassa Municipal Museum for three storeys of sea fossils, ships, sea life and a wander into the seafaring history of Cyprus. Families will find something to keep all ages engaged – with the huge fossils likely to be the biggest hit.