The name Ayia Napa is derived from a Venetian-era monastery of the same name, located in the centre of the town, next to the square that acts today as a nightlife hub. The word "Ayia" (Agia) means "holy" in Greek. "Napa" is archaic and means "wooded valley" or dell, since in ancient times the area surrounding the town was covered with thick forest.
Geographically, Ayia Napa lies near Cape Greco on the eastern part of Cyprus, just south of Famagusta, and forms part of a larger area known as Kokkinochoria ("Red Villages", a name derived from the red colour of the soil). Ayia Napa is about 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Protaras, a town that has recently seen similar development, but still manages to remain low-key and remains more favourable for families and local Cypriot.