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Imagine a sheltered bay, miles of soft golden sand and a sparkling turquoise sea – welcome to Fig Tree Bay. The bay and surrounding area have all this and more to offer, whether your idea of a great holiday is speeding off on a jet ski, taking a hike through a shady forest, or entering a forbidden walled city. Situated on the south east tip of Cyprus, Fig Tree Bay nestles in the balmy Mediterranean sea like a jewel. The nearest town is Protaras, halfway between Cape Greco and Paralimni village and just nine miles from Ayia Napa, the nightlife centre of Cyprus.
With a gently shelving beach, the bay is an ideal spot for families, as well as couples who want to chill out, but who know they are just a taxi ride away from clubs that are open into the early hours. That's not to say there's nothing to do when the sun goes down over Fig Tree Bay. The beach is lined with shops, restaurants and bars just waiting to be discovered.
Fig Tree Bay, named after a fig supposedly brought over and planted in the 17th century by invaders, has earned the reputation of being one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, constantly being awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award. Like all hotspots, it can get busy in the high season, with locals enjoying the breathtaking beauty as well as tourists. Just off the coast in the bay is a small rocky island, sometimes accessible by a sand bar. It is the perfect place for snorkelling as many colourful fish dart in and around the rock, feeding off the coral.
All along the coastline of this part of Cyprus are wonders waiting to be discovered – sea caves, inlets, jagged cliffs and arches – if you have the energy. Or you could try your hand at watersports. The bay has a wide range of hire places for jet skiing, diving, windsurfing, plus loads of other activities. There's even scope for a walk along the sea bed! It's the only place in Europe where you can enjoy the sights of the sea bed in specially designed helmets that have fresh air constantly pumped into them.
If you don't want to spend all day at the beach, there are plenty of other sights to keep you occupied. Just up the coast is the city of Famagusta, on the border of the occupied Turkish part of Cyprus. It's a divided city with one half forbidden to anyone except the military. Visitors can instead take a stroll round the walled city – a fine example of medieval architecture. The Venetian walls, thick with history, enclose narrow streets, dark alleyways and shops selling a variety of goods. To get a great view of the forbidden city, you can climb up to the cliff tops of Famagusta Bay.
Cape Greco, also known as Cavo Greco, a protected National Forest park, is another sight worth the trek. There are nine trails through the park and 300 different plant species. But if you are up for something a bit more active, there is climbing, hiking, cycling and a number of different air sports to enjoy, plus superb views out to sea. Local legend says it is also home to the Ayia Napa sea monster.
If it's nightlife you're after, Fig Tree Bay has an array of restaurants and bars to whet your appetite, with differing food influences of Thai, Italian and Indian. But don't forget to try the freshly grilled fish or the delights of the Cypriot cheese, halloumi. For something livelier, the best place to go is Ayia Napa. It's the party capital of Cyprus, often frequented by international DJs who can keep you on the dance floor all night if you want.
For something a bit calmer but no less spectacular, try a one-hour light and water show called Magic Dancing Waters. It is a Son et Lumière, complete with volcanic eruptions, beautifully lit fountains, fire and smoke, all co-ordinated to music.
Getting around the area is relatively easy as Cyprus is such a compact island. Hiring a car is probably the easiest way to travel but can be quite expensive, especially during the tourist season, between April and October. However, it is left-hand drive and the main roads are in good condition. Another option to consider is either a taxi, or a service taxi, which is shared with other people and therefore cheaper. There are buses on the island but they can be infrequent with a reduced service at weekends.
Most tourists fly into Larnaka airport, about an hours drive away and with the flight from Britain taking only four hours, Fig Tree Bay really isn't that far away.