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See Cyprus and be amazed by what you find

Date Created: 15 February 2014

Cyprus

Cyprus is a Mediterranean island of many contrasts. Lying at the crossroads of three continents where East meets West, Cyprus offers so much more than days lazing on the beach and nights partying in Ayia Napa. Whether you're in search of culture and fine cuisine, or a family looking for safe beaches and plenty to keep the little ones happy, Cyprus has just what you need and all approximately four hours flying time from the UK.

For traditional charm, laid back living and architectural heritage, head to the west coast whilst the east coast plays host to arguably the island's best beaches and most enticing coves. But to discover the heart of Cyprus, you must not miss the magnificent Trudos Mountains where in spring, you can wander through oceans of wildflowers before lingering over traditional fare in a quiet village taverna. Climb to the medieval castles with their shimmering island views or visit Kyrenia (Girne) and the Northcoast to inhale the scent of the citrus groves. Discover the small villages of the Akamas Peninsula and the heavenly golden beaches of the Karpas (Kırpaşa) Peninsula. Bizarrely, Cyprus is also one of Europe’s most southerly ski resorts!

Paphos, along with Ayia Napa and Limasol, is one of Cyprus' most popular resorts. Combining ancient history, with all the attractions of a modern tourist resort, it is an ideal base from which to explore. There is a wealth of modern, luxurious hotels catering for all your holiday needs. Spas and golf courses, sport and scuba diving are all on the menu in this island which prides itself on being a year round destination. And to make life simple, Cypriots drive on the left, like we do, so hiring a car on your holiday has never been easier.

Legend has it that Aphrodite, the patron goddess of Cyprus, rose from the sea enveloped in a surge of sea foam. The location is marked by a rock perched off the craggy coast of Paphos in Southern Cyprus. I gaze across the restless sea with images of Boticelli’s naked beauty simmering in my mind. Tomorrow it will be my turn. With the benefit of a wet suit, I too shall rise from the sea having completed my first ever sea dive. I may not be a goddess of love and beauty but at least I shall be achieving the ambition of a life time.

I have come to Cyprus with the express intention of having my first ever diving lesson. I also intend to take advantage of the island’s many first class spas and also to explore the historical sights and the inland countryside of the Troodos mountains. As befits a trainee sea goddess, I shall perform these feats in just one week.

Naturally I discover that myth is very different from reality. Our dive lesson, conducted by Clive, proprietor of the Dive In school based at Limassol’s Four Seasons Hotel, introduces his new students to the terrors of the deep. As he shows us how to equalise pressure under water, expunge water from the face mask and essentially how to survive potentially life threatening situations, I begin to wonder if I am too old. "No way," says Clive. "My oldest student was 75 with a triple heart bypass. Now he’s a dive master." Despite this reassurance I realise that I am in fact quite nervous.

The butterflies in my stomach increase as I struggle into the less than flattering wet suit complete with oxygen tanks and weighted belt. I look more like a sea lion than a sea goddess but with the ebullient encouragement of my personal instructor Nigel, I take to the waters of the swimming pool to put the theories we have learned into practice. Within half an hour my confidence h as increased and Nigel pronounces that the next day I can proceed to a dive in the sea.

Written by Beverley Byrne.

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