Last April, I visited the magnificent island of Cyprus. Located in South East of the Mediterranean Sea, it has been a very well known destination for tourists who are looking for a typical beach holiday; Plenty of accomodation, good connections and a fair chance of sunny weather. (Almost a certainty). What you don’t normally hear about Cyprus is that it has a big back-country that is practically unexplored. Cyprus is a a Mediterranean gem, ready to be conquered if you’re a landscape photographer. So browse to Google Maps for pinning locations and let’s kick off with number 5.
5. Edro III shipwreck, Peyia
October 2011 was a particular black day in the history books of the Edro III vessel. In fact, it was it’s final day of voyaging. Departing from Limassol, Cyprus’ biggest sea port, it was destined for the Greek isle of Rhodes in the West. Little did they know that they wouldn’t make it out to international waters. The Paphos coastline can be very treacherous; There are a lot of submerged rocks and reefs just below the waterline. Within only 1,5 km of another shipwreck (Dimitrios II), the Edro III became adrift and got stuck at a cliff close to Peyia’s coast. The crew was rescued by the Britsh Military using a helicopter. Luckily, no fuel was spilled into the sea.
Ofcourse, this all was a very unfortunate event. But man, it did create a very photogeanic scene! The coast is easily accessible if you’re by car. When you’re driving from Paphos, just follow the coastline that guides you past Coral Bay and later to the sea caves. Then follow a sign that says ‘Oniro by the sea Restaurant’. If you’re cheeky enough, you could leave your car at their parking lot. From there, it’s only a small walk towards the wreck. As the sun sets in the West, I decided to go in the evening rather than the morning to get a nice backdrop of the sun sinking in the sea. The downside is that it can be crowded at sunset, especially during summertime.
4. Cape Greco, Ayia Napa
Ayia Napa is completely taken over by tourists who are spending their beach holidays in Cyprus. Only a handful of those tourists know it’s only a 10 minute drive from burgers and beer to cliffs and clams. Cape Greco or Kavo Gkreko is a peninsula, located the Southwesternmost point of the island. Because I spent 4 nights in Ayia Napa, I had the luxury of photographing several photo locations for either sunrise and sunset. For sunrise, I planned to drive across the peninsula towards the East coast, in order to watch the sun pop up out of the sea. The first spot was called ‘The Blue Lagoon’ and as the name suggested, The turqoise Mediterranean sea water was crystal clear and I managed to find a good composition between some submerged rocks with a view towards the rising sun. Bonus tip: I was happy to have brought some anti-mosquito repellent. A lovely little church, called the Agioi Anargiroi, is located at only a stone’s throw away. But, there’s more. When you take the stairs down, towards the sea cliffs, out of nowhere a genuine pirate cave appears. Well, maybe not a genuine pirate cave, but it could’ve very well been used as a decor for the latest Pirates of the Mediterranean film, starring Johnny Depp playing the notorious Cypriotic Captain Yiannis Sparros. Anyway, another perfect setting to catch a glimpse of the rising sun. For sunsets, it’s a solid idea to stay close to the South coast and head for the impressive sea caves and the love bridge, which is a stone arch that is partialy standing in the sea. I have to warn you however; Because it is closer to Ayia Napa, there is a fair chance you’ll encounter more people taking selfies during sunsets. (A strange phenomenon that I have to admit I’ve never understood). If you’re looking for more solitude, drive past the sea caves and take the next (dirt-) exit on the right. Along the coast, a fringing reef is waiting to be photographed with a wideangle lens. Again, mosquito alert!
3. Troodos Mountains
Not many tourists know about the Troodos mountains. But they really should. The Troodos mountain range is situated in the centre of the island and wasy to reach from the big cities Nicosia and Limassol. During hot summer days, many Cypriots escape the hot city and come to seek refreshing shelter in the much cooler mountains. With an altitude of 1,952 meters, Mount Olympus is the highest point of Cyprus and it even hosts 4 ski slopes. (You’ve read that correctly!)The Troodos mountains are home to many Byzantine churches and monasteries. Most of them are even on the Unesco list. If there are mountains, there are photo spots. I photographed three different but equally handsome Venetian bridges. Tzelefos bridge, Elias bridge and Milia bridge. All worth while a photostop and a skinny dip. The most important of them is An important village in the Troodos mountains is Platres. From here, you can easily acces a lot of nice hiking trails. If there’s one thing you don’t want to miss in Platres, it probably is the Millomeris waterfall. Don’t hold yourself back if you brought your swimming trousers. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a Mouflon sheep.
The Peninsula of Akámas was named after the son of Trojan war hero Theseus. From the seventies until the year 2000, the British military used the area as a training ground. Since they’ve left, there is Akámas stretches from Pegeia in the South all the way to Polis in the North. The exciting thing is that there isn’t any tarmac in between. The very poor dirt roads are only accessible by a proper 4×4 vehicle. Fortunately, my guide’s Land Rover was more than fit for the job. If you decide to take the route from Pegeia towards the North, the first stop will be Lara beach where you can have a Cypriotic coffee (don’t drink the bottom unless you like chewing your coffee). Lara beach is one of the few places in Cyprus where loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Dependable on the season, you might be a witness of a newly born turtle crawling it’s way to the sea. Our main goal was to cross the peninsula and stop at yet another bay named ‘The Blue Lagoon’. As soon as we could see a glimpse of the sea, the Blue Lagoon was very close. There were a couple of boats with people taking a dive into the crystal clear sea. As I was looking for a nice photo composition, I noticed a variety of rocks, big and small alongside the cliffy coastline with some small streches of sandy beach in between. The last part of the drive to Polis was a spectacular one, passing by several small bays from a high perspective. Plenty of opportunities for exploration if you have time!
1. Aphrodite’s Rock (Petra tou Romiou)
According to the ancient Greek mythology, Aphrodite, Goddess of love, beauty and pleasure was born on Cyprus from the foam produced by Uranus genitals, which his were cut off by his son, Cronos and thrown into the sea. Yikes. The exact spot of this occurence is believed to be the big sea stacks, South of Paphos which is now called Petra tou Romiou. The combination of the ancient legend and the beauty of the place makes for a popular tourist attraction. This is something to be taken in consideration when you’re planning to get some photos of the place. There are many options of different angles with good vistas. I tried to get a combination of the big Rock in the background and the fading water in the foreground, all in one frame. Also, keep in mind that’s it’s not allowed to climb the big rock.