Just 1hr 30 minutes drive from Kyrenia and you are in the northeastern region of Cyprus known as “The Panhandle”, or The Karpaz. A visit to this magical part of the country is a must; on the southern side miles of golden beaches stretch before you and there is hardly a soul in sight. The whole area is an open area museum with so many Byzantine churches, ancient cities, Bronze Age settlements and even Neolithic remains to see. The wildlife appreciates the lack of human interference; the sea is clear and blue.
The newly constructed road from the Ercan Airport junction makes easy driving, very little traffic and lovely views of the old villages as you pass by. Within 1 hour from Kyrenia you will be approaching Bogaz, a pretty little village with a natural fishing harbour and sea side atmosphere. Along the sea front the local restaurants serve meze and freshly prepared fish, the colorful umbrellas provide a welcome shade as you sip a cool drink and look out across the ocean. Continue along the new road and you will see miles of good farming land and the farmers working away, tending their crops. The main road goes though Yenierenkoy, do stop here and visit The Tourism Information Center. Suat, who is responsible for this well organized and beautifully presented information center, will be able to point out all the places of interest to suit your needs. He has produced a fine, well-illustrated map and is always so pleased to help the visitors whenever he can. In spring he will tell you about the orchids and wild flowers, in summer it is the time for the Green and the Loggerhead turtles to nest and hatch. Autumn is great for exploring the walking traits, visiting the many ancient monuments. At every time of year you will see the wild donkeys and wonderful birds.
June and July are perfect months for swimming in the many bays, the sea is so clear; do take your snorkel and mask. The chances are that you will be the only people on the deserted beach. At “Golden Beach” there are miles and miles of the most beautiful golden sand, as far as the eye can see. It is on these beaches that the Turtles come ashore to nest at his time of year, The Ministry of Environment has organized the Turtle protection project at “Golden Beach” and invites visitors to join the Students from Germany and Ankara to watch the Turtles come ashore to nest and lay their eggs. 40 to 60 days later the hatchlings can be observed emerging and racing for the sea. In the Karpas area there are about 12 beaches used by Turtles for nesting and hatching.
It is worth going to the trip of the peninsular; the last few kilometers are good dirt roads and suitable for cars. At the end you can look out to sea and think about ancient times when many a trading ship was wrecked on the outcrops of rock.
Altough it is possible to spend a good day in the Karpaz when based in Kyrenia, you may consider staying in one of the many small, family run hotels. In this way you will be able to soak up the relaxing atmosphere, indulge in the local food and get to know the place. Accommodation varies from the hotel near to the Apostolos Andreas Monastery, which is run by the government, to Log Cabins at “Tekins place” on “Golden Beach”. “The Blue Sea” has a lovely location, there is also “The Levanata” with huts on silts in which to stay and the best fish to eat. “The Theresa Hotel”is also on the seashore and has air conditioning in some rooms. The Information Center at Yenierenkoy will be able to give you a full list of accommodation; all will be very reasonably priced.
A restaurant not to be missed is at Yesilkoy. The “Kadi Restaurant” is run by Mehmet Kadi and serves the Turkish Cypriot speciality “Kup Kebab”: lamb roasted slowly in the outside clay oven with potatoes. You can sit upstairs in the tower which Mehmet has built and enjoy the most amazing views over the whole area whilst eating the most delicious food.you will be served with hummus, thick yoghurt, pickles, home made bread and an abundance of salad along with your “Kup Kebab”. Including drinks expected to pay around £3.50 per person.
If you are interested in the crafts of the area then visit “Delcraft” at Buyukkonuk. You will be welcomed warmly by Lois and Ismail Cemal who have built a craft centre displaying all hand made goods as well as locally pressed Olive Oil.