It’s difficult to imagine this coastline during ancient times but one thing is certain; it was a civilisation that has left its mark in rock tombs, sarcophagi, amphitheatres and the ruins of cities. The Lycians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and some Italian ‘nation-states’ were all here at some time or another. For almost a century it has been the Coast of Turkey which became a new republic in 1923 under the guidance and leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, one of the real statesmen of the 20th Century. He died in 1938 but his impact is still widely felt today as the inspiration of a nation.
If you are sailing west from Fethiye towards Marmaris and the Datca Peninsula there are several places that might catch your eye. You will pass a number of small islands as well as the famous Iztuzu Beach then shortly afterwards a secluded bay with moorings, a small beach and restaurant. It is certainly worth dropping anchor and exploring. This is Ekincik Bay which is at the end of the road that is a left turn off the main east-west coastal road heading from Antalya and points east to Marmaris and beyond. The drive goes past Koycegiz Lake on the left, mud baths and rock tombs to Candir then goes over the mountain down into this lovely bay. It’s far easier to get there by boat and it is worth it.
Ekincik Cove Turkey offers a chance to spend time just taking in the environment, perhaps doing a little walking or hiking before relaxing in the warm seas and dinner after the sun goes down. The pine clad hills include many natural herbs and what better way to cook fresh fish from the sea with equally fresh herbs.
Iztuzu and Dalyan
Thirty years ago there were plans to build a 5 Star hotel near a pristine beach, 5 kms of sand spreading in an arc across the mouth of a delta that went inland to the ancient Lycian Port of Kaunos and the modern town, not much more than a village, Dalyan and thence Koycegiz Lake. Those plans were halted by protest and the involvement of many international celebrities. The result is that the beach is protected today, a delight for tourists and locals alike but also a haven for the endanger Loggerhead Turtle (caretta caretta) which breeds in nearby Candir Lake and nests on the beach in early summer.
People are barred from the beach at night and hatchlings begin their journey over the sand to the sea in the cover of darkness. It is a perilous journey still but the species is receiving all the support it can be given.
Some stop at the beach when sailing along the coast while others take the trip down the reed- sided channel to Dalyan to see the rock toms carved in the rock facing the town. In those days when the protests started the town certainly was a village of fishermen and farmers with little in the way of infrastructure. Now there are plenty of hotels, private villas, bars and restaurants that result in the summer population increasing tremendously from the few thousand that live there all year round.
Celebrities helped to preserve the treasure of Iztuzu and further east towards Fethiye in the small marina town of Gocek a few have visited aboard not unimpressive yachts. It is an experience tourists in general can enjoy on a Blue Cruise Turkey. There are many standard itineraries along the coast in yacht or gulet. Sailors can discuss their own routes and if they want the height of luxury they can have that as well.
But make no mistake; there is no such thing as standard. The word does not really exist for such a unique experience. The accommodation is always comfortable, the sea warm and inviting, the cuisine fresh and healthy and the sun an ever-present throughout the summer months.
Those who simply rely on experienced captains to provide them with the best experience can do so. Those who enjoy researching during the cold winter nights at home are likely to have some ideas or certainly some questions. The questions are welcome just as they will be themselves in a few months’ time on arrival.