Best for island escapes: Cyprus

From up there, you can see everything," said the speedboat's grizzled captain, pointing skywards with a grin and a wink. And with that, he snapped me into my parachute, leant on the boat's throttle – and lifted me gently from the deck and into the air, attached only by the slenderest of ropes to the back of his craft as it bounced through the waves beneath me.

It was my first experience of parasailing – and as I flew like a modern-day Icarus, in sunglasses and swimsuit, hundreds of feet up, with the cristalline waters of the eastern Mediterranean stretching to infinity beneath me, it really did seem as if the whole of Cyprus was laid out for my inspection below.

There were the famous beaches, smart hotels and fish restaurants of Ayia Napa, which have drawn visitors to this coast for decades; there was the magnificent rocky headland of Cape Greco, home to tiny coves and some of Europe's best snorkelling; beyond that loomed the peaks of the Troodos Mountains, the island's most surprising landscape, with its hill villages, cool forests and trout streams; and finally, over there – a few kilometres into the hazy distance – was the abandoned city of Famagusta, once Cyprus's most popular resort, but under foreign occupation since the Turkish invasion of 1974, a poignant reminder of its troubled past and still-divided present.

We had come to sample a little of Cypriot life and the distinctive culture of this ancient land that has been coveted by so many – including the British – down the centuries. But first a few days of unashamed relaxation seemed in order – this was a holiday, after all! – so we booked ourselves into the modern-day Republic's most celebrated hotel, the InterContinental Aphrodite Hills Resort – one of Conde Nast Traveller's "hottest places to stay in the world" no less – with its spectacular swimming pools, private beach club, tennis academy, golf course and 578 acres of protected parkland on a hillside overlooking the island's south-west coast. It proved the perfect first base – though the wonderfully attentive staff, the friendly atmosphere, the manicured grounds and the molten sunsets from the open terrace of the rooftop bar meant we could happily never have left.

Suitably refreshed, however, we finally ventured west to view the ancient ruins and mosaics of Pafos, south to watch the ships pass by the bustling port town of Limassol, north to the fascinating walled city of Nicosia, the world's last partitioned capital. We drove up into the hills to nibble on stickily preserved fruits in the enchanting village of Kakopetria, where shady squares brought welcome respite from the summer heat.

And finally, we journeyed east to Cyprus's party capital, where we rented Sommer Villa, a simple but comfortable modern house with the bonus of a small private pool in the laidback resort of Protoras, a few kilometres along the coast from Ayia Napa. It proved an ideal bolthole from which to explore the island's best beaches, with their turquoise shallows and demerara sands (our tips: the glorious sweep in front of the Grecian Bay Hotel and the unspoiled crescent down the winding path to Konnos Bay) – and a memorable place, too, for one's first parasailing adventure.

Perhaps, I thought – as my parachute billowed above me, and I gazed from on high at Cyprus's unique, complex beauty – the speedboat captain is right. From up here, you really can see everything.

Sovereign (0871 664 0227; sovereign.com) offers seven nights half-board for a family of four staying at the InterContinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel from £1,999, including flights, based on 28 June departure. See aphroditehills.com. Sommer Villa is available via HomeAway Holiday Rentals from £350-£700 a week. See holiday-rentals.co.uk (property ID: 418884)

Island dreams

# There's no shortage of beaches in the Cayman Islands, but the string of near-deserted stretches on the Southwest Coast of Cayman Brac recall a pre-tourist-trampled Caribbean while Grand Cayman has smart hotels that earn it "the Miami of the Caribbean" tag. caymanislands.co.uk

# The island of Sövalye off the Lycian Coast is a Turkish delight. Entirely pedestrian, thick with pine forest and home to just one hotel: The Ece, a boutique property entirely surrounded by the sea. Seven nights' B&B costs £550 pp including flights and transfers with Exclusive Escapes (020-8605 3500; exclusiveescapes.co.uk).

# They have the highest sea cliffs in Europe, a Gulf Stream-warmed climate and a near virgin landscape, but the Faroe Islands are little-visited. This year's increase in direct flights from the UK may change that. Four-nights' B&B, guesthouse accommodation, £645pp with Sunvil Discovery (sunvil.co.uk), including flights and car hire.

# St Kitts is having a make-over. Christophe Harbour (christopheharbour.com) is a 2,500-acre development along 13 miles of coastline, the largest of six massive developments on the island due for completion next year. This luxury resort has a mega-yacht marina (slips for 300ft vessels), five-star hotels and a golf course.

# Explore the most remote shorelines of the Galapagos Islands in style. Find sea lions, boobies and albatrosses with a National Parks guide and sleep aboard the 20-berth M/Y Grace, the yacht gifted to Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier by Aristotle Onassis. 10 days from £3,265 per person. Cazenove + Loyd (020-7384 2332; cazloyd.com).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering