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Ayia Napa - you either love it or you hate it. If noise, bustle, hustlers, drunk karaoke singers is your scene, you'll love it, if you are looking for peace, quiet, solitude, a smattering of Greek culture, then you'll hate it. It attracts a third of the tourists to Cyprus.
Ayia Napa is brash and loud. What it lacks in cool sophistication, it more than makes up for in its single minded, devotional pursuit of making money.
Ayia Napa gets its name from a small hunting party that chanced upon an icon hidden in a cave - Ayia (saint), Napa (forest).
Ayia Napa used to be a sleepy little fishing village. Its only name to fame was the monastery. The monastery is still there, an unexpected oddity in what is now a bustling tourist resort. The remnants of the fishing harbour is still there.
Ayia Napa is an ugly tourist resort. One ghastly urban sprawl. It attracts a third of the tourists visiting Cyprus. Day and night it is noise. Its lowest point are the British soldiers from the base at Dhekelia, whose idea of a good night out is to get drunk as fast as possible, abuse as many people as possible, smash up a few establishments, then throw up in the street.
Ayia Napa does have a few good points. Nissi Beach is an excellent beach, though you will be lucky to see a grain of sand in the middle of the summer when it is covered by the sunbathing hoards of humanity, the remnants of the fishing harbour form a focal point, increasingly looking out of place in this creation of Mammon the monastery is an oasis of peace and tranquillity, the night life is reputed to be the best on the island (or so they claim in Ayia Napa).
The Ayia Napa Monastery was founded in the 16th Century. Its tranquil courtyard and marble fountain offer a cool respite from the world outside.
Looking equally out of place is the small waterfront chapel of Agios Georgios.
Boat trips are available to Larnaca, Cape Greco, and the Ghost town of Famagusta. A regular local bus service runs from Paralimni to Ayia Napa via Protaras.
Protaras, a little way up the coast - a more tranquil and less hectic resort for those who can't handle the pace of Ayia Napa.