Turkey has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Between Kaputaş, Kaş, Antalya, Olympos, Fetiye, Datça and Bodrum, I spent A LOT of my time exploring beaches along Turkey’s Southern Coast.
I didn’t travel through the country in a really logical way. I flew into Istanbul, took an overnight bus to Cappadocia and then continued South before working my way up North along the West Coast of the country. I looped back to Istanbul and then flew down back south AGAIN to Datça and Bodrum. I don’t recommend anyone take my same travel route because it was a bit all over the place (see map below), but this is a quick and dirty summary of my time on the Southern Coast.
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Kaputaş was one of the prettiest beaches I visited in Turkey. It is sandy which is a major plus (most beaches are rocky). Just look at this place. Heaven on earth.
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A local told me Antalya is the “diamond of the Mediterranean” because it was an important port for trade during the Roman empire and is now a popular stop for cruise ships. I didn’t kick it at the beach or take a dip off of the coast of Antalya, but I did acquaint myself a bit with Kaleici, Antalya’s walled “downtown” dating back to the Roman era. I made my way over to Karaalioglu Park, ate some Dondurma by the watch tower and chilled with some nice stray dogs. There weren’t a ton of tourists when I went – it was pretty laid back. One thing that was a little upsetting was seeing a bunch of “Pirates of the Caribbean” tourist boat excursions off the harbor. Not exactly authentic…I didn’t realize Pirates of the Caribbean was still popular but apparently there is ANOTHER movie coming out in 2017.
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Exploring Olympos and the Chimaera
Olympos is an extremely mountainous area with a beautiful coast and beach. The water is warm and extremely saline. It’s really nice for relaxation because you barely have to exert energy to stay afloat. The salt makes you so buoyant it kind of feels like free flotation therapy minus the pitch-black, sound-proof vessel.
One of the main things to do in Olympos is to trek up to the Chimaera. The Chimaera is a volcanic mountainside with flames randomly blazing from the cracks between the rocks. It’s a completely natural phenomenon. You can temporarily extinguish the flames but they will spontaneously reignite again. There are a ton of old legends about the Chimaera as the flames have apparently been blazing since antiquity. In present day, locals and travelers take advantage of the natural fires as an evening grilling/chilling area with family and friends. We hiked up the mountain with wine and stuff to make s’mores and roasted marshmallows over the open fire. If anyone ever decides to go, I highly recommend bringing a flashlight and wearing good walking shoes to walk up the mountainside. It wasn’t overly challenging, but you definitely work up a sweat.
The nice thing about Olympos is that it’s a bit more remote and it’s a great place if you want to get away and stay in nature. Most of the lodging are cabins- nothing too fancy.
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Overnight Boat Ride to Kekova
I went on an overnight boat tour to visit a small island called Kekova and the Sunken City Ruins of Simena. We sailed from cove to cove, made some brief swim stops, hiked tiny uninhabited islands and passed over the underwater ruins. There were windows on the bottom of the boat so we could even see some ruins on the ocean floor (mostly a lot of broken pottery).
In the evening we visited a secluded coastal village on the island of Kekova and I met the most precious little girl. I wanted to snap a picture of her but she was resistant. The minute she laid eyes on my iPhone, she was on a mission to take it from me and take her own photos….sooo I let her. I found a few funny selfies on my camera roll after I pried my phone out of her death grip:
After this overnight boat trip, I am proud to stay I am now an expert on deboning a whole fish – we ate A LOT of fresh, grilled sea bream. That night, I fell asleep on the top of the boat beneath the stars. I woke up the next morning to a stunning sunrise and escaped with only 4 mosquito bites for the entire trip (pretty incredible because I am usually a natural bug repellent for everybody standing around me…my blood is sweet!).
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Turtles and Mud Bathes in Dalyan
I wrote about my experience in a previous post. Click here to read more about Dalyan 🙂
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Datca is a place near and dear to my heart mostly because of the amazing company I was with. We stayed with Ceyda’s Aunt and Uncle and were spoiled with delicious meals made from the fresh veggies and fruits from their garden. They are one of the cutest couples I have ever met.
All we did in Datca was eat, drink and chill at the beach.
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Bodrum is a 90 minute ferry ride from Datca. It’s not as remote or tranquil as Datca – it’s a popular resort town known for its late-night parties. It was also our jumping off point to Bosnia because there is an airport close by. Lots of good food but no private beaches as far as I could tell. It was still fun because, well, good food…..