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Relaxing family resorts, warm sandy beaches and vibrant cultural festivals make Cyprus the perfect sunshine getaway. But whilst Ayia Napa and Limassol buzz to the beat of all-night party venues, there are other destinations on the island that remind you what holidays are really about. Escape to the resort of Latchi for instance and you will discover an unhurried pace of life you will never want to leave behind.
Cyprus is an island steeped in myths and legends, from the great giant who created the Kyrenia Mountains in the north to the mighty Goddess Aphrodite, who rose from the waves of the Aegean to be seduced by Adonis in the island's forests. Today, although these legends continue to enchant visitors from around the world, this has become an island that blends 10,000 years of history with a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere. Ancient ruins, temples and tombs tell the story of both tumultuous and romantic times under the dominance of many ancient civilisations, each of which left an indelible mark. But both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots celebrate their past not only with traditional folk music and dancing but through a whole host of modern festivals held throughout the year.
Latchi lies in a picturesque setting on the island's north east coast, some 22 miles from the airport at Paphos. Although northern Cyprus has tended to hide in the shadow of the slightly more developed south, visitors appreciate its more authentic, laid-back feel and the simple and endearing way of life enjoyed by the friendly Turkish-Cypriot people. The tranquility of Latchi is broken only by the vibrant atmosphere around the harbour and the collection of seafront tavernas and restaurants, where the catch of the day is as fresh as the sea breezes. Crowds of tourists are a rare sight here, so it's unlikely you will have to compete for prime position on the main beach, with its sand and shingle and gentle paved walkway. If you are looking to get away from it all, you will find it hard to resist the serene, tranquil feel of Latchi and the unspoilt atmosphere so characteristic of northern Cyprus.
Just a stone's throw to the west of Latchi lies the spectacular Akamas Peninsula National Park. This is arguably the most beautiful stretch of the island, with lush valleys and steep gorges teeming with endemic plants and flowers throughout the year. Butterflies and rare birds flutter through the air here and wild animals including hedgehogs and foxes roam the fragrant pine forests. The area is popular with walkers for its three excellent routes: Aphrodite trail, Adonis trail and Smigies trail, which are the perfect way for nature lovers to take in the unspoilt side of Cyprus. Alternatively, the Akamas coastline can be explored on a boat tour from Latchi, revealing sights such as the Baths of Aphrodite, where the legendary Goddess once bathed in natural pools under the fig trees before her marriage to Greek God Hephaestus. Further along the coast lies the wild and rugged Lara Bay, one of the few places in the Mediterranean where green and loggerhead turtles feel safe to come ashore to lay their eggs.
Most visitors to Latchi take time out to visit the neighbouring fishing village of Polis, just three kilometres to the east and enjoy its sleepy atmosphere and traditional charm. Polis and Latchi share the delightfully unspoilt Chrysouchou Bay and Polis centres around a small picturesque square, with plenty of old houses and domed Churches providing the backdrop for enjoying a leisurely lunch in a local taverna. Polis is the place to pick up local produce such as fresh fish, olives and halloumi cheese from the weekly market and by night a handful of bars and a disco provide opportunities to let your hair down. Head over here in September and you will be treated to the soothing rhythms of jazz, at the island's annual paradise jazz festival, held in the local park.
What is striking about an island as peaceful and unspoilt as Cyprus is the wide range of activities and places of interest on offer. As well as opportunities for walking and birdwatching, golf is available at the nearby Tsada Golf Club, scuba diving in Latchi and horse riding at a number of locations. The town of Paphos, birthplace of Aphrodite herself, is a treasure trove of cultural highlights including the Tombs of the Kings and the House of Dionysus and also offers plenty of opportunities for shopping and nightlife. Being located close to excellent roads, Latchi is a superb base for hiring a car and venturing off to discover everything that makes this island so special and if you are planning to include a tour of the Akamas peninsula in your holiday itinerary, a four by four vehicle will make the most remote and unspoilt nooks and crannies of the area even more accessible.