Akrotiri and Dhekelia

Akrotiri and Dhekelia

Europe
Travel article
LAST UPDATED 15/07/2008
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Level of surfing

Beginner

Quality of surf

Average

Call code

357

Area

123

Coastline

56 km

Climate

Temperate Mediterranean - hot dry summers with cool winters

Hazards

Difficult Access

Best Months

November - January

Population

15000

Currency

Cypriot Pound (CYP) Cypriot pounds per US dollar - 0.46019 (2006)

Time Zone

Central European Time (CET) ALPHA (UTC+1) Summer DST (UTC+2)

Special Requirements

Private Beaches

introduction

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Map of Akrotiri (Western) SBA, Cyprus

Akrotiri and the sister base of Dhekelia to the east are part of the United Kingdom administered Soverign Base Areas (SBA’s) on the Island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

Although not known for it’s surf, Akrotiri has excellent exposure to the predominant sirocco swell / wind systems from the west which although rare have the potential to generate winds of hurricane strength (100km p/h) with associated waves in excess of 5 metres.

As the area is essentially a military base however you will need to be on posting exchange or a member of the British or Commonwealth forces to gain regular access to the coast.

history

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Makarios III, Cyprus President shooting at Turkish cypriots with UN support

Akrotiri and the other SBA’s on Cyprus were created in 1960. At the time, Cyprus was a colony of the British Empire. When granted independence, the United kingdom wished to retain a strategic presence on the island due to its central location within the Mediterranean and close vicinity to the Middle East.

In 1974, the Island of Cyprus was invaded by Turkey from the North. The fighting reached as far south as the bases of Akrotiri. Rather than risk conflict with Britain the advance was halted, thus surrounding areas still remained under Greek Cypriot control whilst the north was under Turkish Cypriot administration.

A United Nations buffer zone separates the two areas. Today the island is fairly stable politically with the last major demonstrations being held in 2001 – protesting in response to the UK intentions to construct additional communication facilites as part of their global military communication network.

Whilst there are other areas such as Dhekelia administered by the UK on the island, it is the Akrotiri section which is of prime interest to the surfer due to it’s coastal exposure to the predominant weather systems from the west.

surfing

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Untapped Cypriot potential

Special permission must be obtained from the base at Royal air Force (RAF) Akrotiri before you will be permitted within the confines of the SBA. You should therefore allow plenty of time for this – similar timings for a Visa process.

Planning a surf trip months in advance in a location as fickle as this may seem to be a big call but the payoffs can be tremendous. There are a number of quality reef, points and beach breaks in the area, and chances are that you will be sharing them with only a few servicemen from the RAF base if anyone at all.

The main timings for the sirocco swells and winds are in the Northern Hemisphere Autumn and Spring (March and November) This would probably be the best time to plan your Mediterranean surf trip, though sitting this far east in the sea will give you the best chance of catching any swell generated from favourable weather systems.

The picks would probably be Queen Victoria Beach, and the reefs off Cape Zevgari. These spots work in any heavy westerly swell. The southerly facing spots such as Cape Gata to the East and the various point breaks off Episkopi are strictkly novelty wave material and break very infrequently.

travel

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Nicosia, last divided city on Earth

Flying is the most common method of arrival in Cyprus although there are regular boat services connecting to various locations within the Mediterranean.

The Turkish Cypriot state of the north is not recognised by any other country except Turkey, hence you can only fly to there from Turkey. The southern airports of Larnaca (South East) and Paphos (South West) are well serviced by Mediterranean carriers throughout Europe.

The capital of the island Nicosia remains divided with a Turkish (north) and Greek (south) side, making it one of the last divided cities on Earth.

weather

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Path of the Sirocco

Cyprus’s close proximity to Eurasia makes it one of the hottest regions of the Mediterranean. Still, during Winter the altitude of the central area of the island permits skiing. There is almost no rain at all over the summer periods (May to September). January is the coldest month with maximums of 16 degrees C. for the surfer, the most interesting phenomena affecting Akrotiri are the Sirocco Winds.

These winds which can reach cyclonic force are most common in March and November. These weather systems are caused by dry, hot air from the Sahara and Africa mixing with the cooler moist air of Europe. The resulting mix can travel eastwards across the Mediterranean unleashing extreme winds and dust storms that may persist for 4-5 days. Accordingly, one should aim where possible to plan a surfing trip within the geographical vicinity around these swell windows.

where to stay

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Fig Tree Beach, Ayia Napa

The nearest city in the areas is the Greek Cypriot port of Limassol (Larnaca Airport), only 12 km from the west coast of Akrotiri. You would probably want to base yourself here and travel to the coast.

There are many resorts in the area catering to families and singles alike. Of course you could always join the UK air force and fly direct to the base. You may have to spend a few years painting rocks but you would have access to the main breaks on the island. 

Buses, taxis and hire cars can be obtained in Limassol at reasonable prices.

what to pack

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Rich Niewiroski Jr.: 62 mm ultra-violet, fluorescent, and polarizing lens filters. Camera used was a Canon 400D; April 9, 2007

If you manage to get there, than take trainers, loose clothing - everything for the hot weather. Definitely take along some bug repellent spray, good sunscreen and sunglasses! Take your own medicines with you. And a good protection for your camera from the sand.

You'll most likely need to take everything along with you, as it will be really hard to find anything here. So bring along all your necessities - toiletries, food, water....

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