Sometimes, when people hear that we live in Cyprus, they wonder if we spend all our time at the beach.
It seems that, when people associate somewhere with a holiday resort, they tend to think that people who live there must spend their time in relaxation and lounging in the sun. This is, of course, not the case. When you live somewhere - anywhere - much of your time must be taken up in day-to-day living: shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc - and many people work long hours. Yes, there's a siesta time in the summer in Cyprus from about 1pm - 4pm, when nobody is supposed to make any noise, and when a lot of people sleep. But shops and offices which close for siesta time often open at 7.30 or 8.00am, and then remain open until at least 7pm, after the siesta.
As for the beach, we find we spend very little time there. In the Summer, it's packed with tourists, many of them getting serious sunburn. In the winter, it's chilly and empty. I don't do well in heat or sunshine, so the only time I can go to the beach in the summer is either before about 8am or after 5pm. So far, I've been once this year. On Friday, since there was no youth group for Tim and no house group for us, we decided to go for a swim; it was the first time I had been in the sea since last Summer. We do try to go two or three times per week during July and August some years, but somehow didn't get around to it at all during July.
There are several bits of beach in Larnaka. The one that the tourists know best is the Finikoudes - or palm-tree promenade - seafront, right by the town and many of the hotels and apartments. It's convenient, with plenty of shops and restaurants just over the road, ice cream booths nearby, and a useful toilet block. You can go a long way out before getting out of depth, so it's ideal for children. It's also rather commercialised, and not very interesting.
Cypriot families and resident foreigners like ourselves tend to go to McKenzy beach, near the airport, which is by a whole load of restaurants and a shower block, with a big car park over the road. Aeroplanes fly low, right overhead, as it's the flight-path into Larnaka, so it can be a little noisy, but there's more sand than there is at the Finikoudes beach, and less seaweed. It also has a long, shallow slope meaning it's safe for children, other than one place (usually marked by buoys) where there's an undertow.
However in the last couple of years, the car park prices at McKenzy beach have shot up - it used to be free after 6pm; last year it costs £1 even for a short stay. Not too bad if you're spending the day there, but rather steep if you just want a quick half-hour swim in the evening.
So these days we usually go to a small bit of beach accessed from the main road, which isn't quite as far along as McKenzy beach. There's a field nearby where people park, one or two restaurants, and this year, for the first time, there's a porta-loo setup on the beach. It's not particularly attractive, and there tends to be some seaweed... but more and more people are starting to go there.
Oh, and in the other direction, beyond the marina and towards Dhekelia, there are more small beaches, many of them attached to hotels.
Beaches in Cyprus tend to be clean, safe and friendly, and the water is very warm during the Summer. So they're ideal for swimming... even though we go there so rarely ourselves.