And when it comes to sun and sand you’ll be spoiled rotten, as white sandy bays and hidden coves make up the entire coastline here, only interspersed by rocky headlands that make for superb walks.
The warm, aquamarine seas off the coast are a dream for water sports and on land you can get in the car to track down any number of historic sites and family attractions in the vicinity.
1. Church of St. Elias
Moments from the centre of Protaras is this church that you can spot from miles around.
Built in the 80s, St. Elias roosts atop a 100-metre hill that you can scale via a 150-step stairway. It’s not a challenge to take lightly, especially in the summertime, but once you get to the top you’ll know what the fuss is about.
The vistas are dreamlike and extend over the town and out to the sea beyond. Take a moment in the garden up here to look at the trees of remembrance, onto which locals tie ribbons to remember loved ones.
2. Fig Tree Bay
Protaras’ main beach, Fig Tree Bay is typical of the coastline on the east side of the peninsula: It’s a fabulous sweep of powdery white sand served by rows of sun loungers beneath shades.
As its right next to the town, Fig Tree Bay can get busy in summer, but that won’t matter, because it’s the sea that makes this beach great.
The waters are phenomenal, as about 50 metres offshore there’s a small island that separates the beach from the open sea.
This creates a long and broad expanse of waist-high water, so clear that you can see each grain of sand on the seabed!
3. Cape Greco
The whole southeastern tip of Cyprus is a natural park and one of the island’s great beauty spots.
You can tackle the cape on land or by water, and both methods will get you close to the cinematic scenery.
On foot, you’ll follow trails up to view point that looks out over the rest of the headland and the deep blue Mediterranean.
From the water you hop between the yawning cavities chiselled from the rock by sea currents.
Further along are other strange rock formations, including a natural arch that you can swim beneath on calm days.
Around Protaras and Ayia Napa you’ll have a host of international cuisines on your doorstep.
But during your trip you simply have to get down to a local taverna to try a traditional Cypriot meze.
This isn’t a small affair; meze in Cyprus is a full-blown meal made up of little platters, each more enticing than the last.
The usual order is something like: Olives, bread with dips (humus, tahini and taramasalata), then kalamari, grilled vegetables and halloumi.
After this you can tuck into kebabs and roasted lamb, or chargrilled fish, depending on your choice. All this fare goes great with a local Cypriot wine produced in the mountainous Troodos region.
5. Sirena Bay
Many people only come across this hidden beach by accident after tracing the coastal path, and you can easily miss it from the road.
Sirena Bay is a thin arc of sand and shingle hemmed by vegetation and overlooked by a friendly waterfront taverna.
The dense thicket that encircles the narrow sands means there’s no need for sunshades here, and the serene and shallow waters are just right for swimmers.
From March to November, Cyprus has a dive season longer than anywhere else in Europe.
This is down to the island’s latitude, which grants it comfortably warm waters for much of the year.
The southeastern side of Cyprus is also where a lot of the diving action happens, and a host of PADI-approved companies operate in Protaras and Ayia Napa.
If you’re a newcomer it’s the perfect chance to learn the essentials.
And if you’re experienced you’ll be in heaven, swimming with turtles and rays through the canyon off Cape Greco, or exploring the wreck of the MS Zenobia, which went down off Larnaca Bay in 1980 – with no casualties.
7. Ayia Napa
If you’re in your late-teens or twenties and want to let your hair down Ayia Napa is just a quick cab ride away.
It’s long been known as one of the Mediterranean’s liveliest party places, and attracts young people from across Europe.
Clustered around the town’s square are many of Ayia Napa’s 80 bars and 12 nightclubs, most bouncing ’til dawn seven days a week in summer.
The craziest time of year is late-June to early-August, but there’s still plenty going on in the fringe seasons. Also see: Best things to do in Ayia Napa.
8. Ayia Napa Monastery
Despite its reputation, Ayia Napa isn’t all about wild nightlife.
In the heart of the town is this lovely Venetian monastery that is much the same today as it was 500 years ago.
The limestone walls of the monastery’s church, cloisters and flour mill are standing strong, and have been joined by a new church constructed in 1990 when Ayia Napa’s congregation grew too large for the old one.
Couples who are having trouble conceiving a child come to touch the statue of the Virgin Mary here, claimed to be responsible for several local childbirth miracles!
9. Nissi Beach
South of Protaras is Ayia Napa’s liveliest beach. There’s fun all afternoon at Nissi, with a non-stop beachfront party in the summer.
And if you’re up for it you can even make for the headland on the west side of the bay to try cliff-diving. For everyone else Nissi Beach is a beautiful place to spend lazy days by the sea.
The white sands are soft and powdery, the waters are clear and shallow, and there’s no shortage of facilities on hand.
10. Konnos Bay
On the way down to Cape Greco you’ll stumble upon this fabulous natural beach.
What makes Konnos Bay so lovely is the way the cove is defended from both the wind and sea currents by headlands that act as a barrier to the elements.
If you’re on holiday with kids then this beach is just what you’re looking for as the tranquil sea is great for the smaller members of your family to splash about in.
Stronger swimmers can bring snorkelling gear to see what they can find under the bay’s rippling waves.
11. Parko Paliatso Funfair and Luna Park
Depending on your disposition one look at Parko Paliatso’s world-famous slingshot will set your heart racing or send shivers down your spine.
Riders enter a capsule to be flung in to the air at high speed by a bungee rope-powered catapult. It’s the highest ejection seat ride in Europe apparently.
A little less hair-raising is the ferries wheel, which stands 45 metres above the park and at the top of your orbit will give you superb views. Try to take a ride at sunset.
12. Day trip to Famagusta
In Ayia Napa and Protaras you can find several tour operators to take you across the Green Line to the port city of Famagusta.
There are plenty of reasons to make the trip, not least to see the Lala Mustapha Pasha Mosque, another melange of gothic Christian and Islamic architecture.
It was a cathedral before the Ottomans took over in the 1500s. Also highly recommended is Othello Castle, which is believed to have inspired the Shakespeare play.
Even if this isn’t true the castle is a striking piece of Venetian military design that was recently restored to its former glory.
If you’re going to Famagusta you should definitely make time for this ghost town on the south side of the city.
After the Turkish invasion in the 1970s the entire population of one the area’s top resorts fled, and Varosha has remained abandoned ever since.
Unfortunately you can’t enter the resort to see its crumbling towers up close, but you can get some excellent distance shots from the bay.
What catches the eye is the way nature is reclaiming the city in the absence of people: Loggerhead turtles have even started nesting on the beach again.
14. Horseback riding
If you visit Protaras in March or April the hills around the resort are awash with the many colours of wildflowers in bloom.
The poppies are particularly vibrant, with shades ranging from yellow to deep red.
The spring season is a fine time to be out and about and a great way to enjoy the countryside is on a horseback tour. The Moonshine Ranch is on the outskirts if Protaras and offers lessons and allows you to hire horses by the hour.
15. Cypriot Coffee
Even on the cosmopolitan east coast you can sample some Cypriot specialities. Try coffee: In Cyprus a cup of brew percolates on a stove inside narrow copper jug with a long handle so the person who prepares it isn’t burned.
Ground coffee and sugar are mixed with cold water even before the jug goes on the stove. So what you get is a simultaneously powerful and sweet drink, with a syrupy consistency.
When you’ve finished there will be a bitter residue at the bottom of the cup that you probably shouldn’t drink!