Explore the Turquoise Coast of Turkey – turtles, mud baths, and the pools of Cleopatra
There is plenty to do in the Turkish destination of Fethiye, on what’s known as the Turquoise Coast. Whether it’s the stunning views of the Aegean ocean, or the many restaurants, Fethiye is alive with luscious mountains and a relaxed atmosphere.
A great getaway, Fethiye offers nightlife, restaurants and shopping activities, as well as being aptly situated for day trips and overnight tours.
After I visited Fethiye, staying in Calis, I’m here to write about what you can do in Fethiye.
Water Taxis from Fethiye to Calis
I stayed in Calis beach, pronounced Chalish. The beach is home to the turtles, so from 8 PM, the beach closes down for the turtles to return and lay their eggs. Walking along the beach, which is pebbled, you can see where the nests are. Respect nature whilst you’re there, and please avoid lighting fires or staying on the beach during the night.
From Calis town, which is about five minutes away from Calis beach on the Turkish dolmus buses, which cost 4 lira, you can get off at the bridge and catch a water taxi. The water taxi is naturally a longer way to travel, but it is more scenic and less cramped than the dolmus’s route to Fethiye.
The water taxi is a boat that sails across the water, docking at Fethiye harbour. As you approach Fethiye, you will see tombs built into the rock, left behind by the Romans. You can catch the breeze and the setting sun, and you may even spot flying fish as they leap through the air.
I’m in Fethiye – now what?
Like bookshops? There is one in Fethiye, and it even sells English-language novels. It’s a great little find, along the harbour, where you can walk past lines of boats and book a boat tour, which will take you around Fethiye’s twelve islands.
Take a walk down the back streets of Fethiye, and find yourself in a square, where markets have been set up. Turkey is notoriously known for its genuine fakes, so be prepared for Louis Vuitton bags and all the latest ‘designer’ gear.
As well as these genuine fakes, find shops that sell trinkets and colourful lamps. The ornaments on sale are pretty. There isn’t too much hassle here, if any, so you are free to browse in peace.
You could even buy some spices, or some Turkish delight.
You’ve seen them on Instagram – streets with colourful rainbow umbrellas in a line, brightening up their streets.
Well, Fethiye has their own – albeit not quite as nice or as famous as some of the others in existence.
Still, the rainbow colours are nice to look at. You can shop underneath them, finding some bracelets or clothes. This is a great street to find little gifts to bring back to the people back home.
The 12 Islands
There should be a disclaimer on these boat tours that you probably won’t see 12 islands. Nevertheless, if you want to spend the day at sea, booking the twelve islands boat tours is always a good thing to do.
There are plenty of tour operators in Fethiye and Calis, or you can plan ahead and book your tour before you leave. I booked a private boat tour, which I prefer, because you’re with people you know.
The boat will stop at some of the islands, where you will be able to cool off by dipping into the sea. I suggest taking a goggle and snorkel kit, and taking a look at what’s underneath you. Fish, rocks and even small octopus!
On the boat, you will be able to eat on board, with a meal provided, usually in the price. The boat tours will keep you out all day. After a day at sea, you’ll want to relax. Pack plenty of sun cream, and enjoy your day!
Tours around Fethiye
As I said earlier, Fethiye has a great location, and one that provides you with plenty of opportunities to explore far and wide, seeing different parts of Turkey, and exploring Turkey’s history, as well as natural beauty.
If natural parks and canyons are your thing, a visit to Saklikent Gorge should definitely be on your travel itinerary.
Located 45 km from Fethiye, the gorge was recognised as the longest and deepest canyon in Turkey, and the second largest in Europe.
Forests of red pine trees grow around the gorge, and fresh mountain water flows through the crevice. The walking tour allows you to get to the gorge, where you can choose whether or not you want to brave the strong currents of freezing water to make your way into the gorge.
It’s worth doing! Getting into the gorge allows you to climb the rock face and get spectacular views of the towering rock above you. With natural waterfalls, the canyon is breathtakingly beautiful.
I’ve done the gorge. Now where should I go?
Well, you might need a pool day to relax after your trip to the gorge, but if you’re up and ready to go, why not visit Tlos, the ancient city?
But what is Tlos?
Only 4km away from Saklikent Gorge, Tlos is an ancient city of the Lycian citadel, and one that is still very much well preserved.
Tombs built into the mountain were created as burial spots for the royals at the time. It was believed that being buried high up would make them closer to the gods. Being inside the tomb would allow their spirits to be found easily, and taken to become a saint.
The site was occupied by Romans, Byzantines and Ottoman Turks. It included an amphitheatre, which can be seen once you reach the top of the settlement. It also included a training pool for the Roman soldiers.
Climbing to the top of the Lycian hill, eventually coming to stand above the tombs, is worth doing. If you aren’t good with heights, however, it’s probably best you stay on more even ground. But getting to the top offers you fantastic views, including the view of the castle ruins, which used to be on the site.
Great! Now what should I do?
It’s time for Pamukkale and Cleopatra’s pools. If you’re looking for Instagram content, this is the place for you!
Beware, however – many tours lead you to believe you will be able to walk in and visit the original terrace travertine with its luscious blue pools of mineral water. However, these are closed to the public, and lower down from where you walk, in a bid to preserve them.
Now, you enter at the bottom, and make your way up the sloping and scaly surface of Pamukkale’s water crafted ground.
You have to take your shoes off, and sometimes the natural pools and the surface of the ground cuts into your feet. Water runs down the white surface, over your feet, and a brook runs down the side. There are plenty of people here getting photos with the white backdrop behind them.
Pamukkale has built replica blue pools, which are similar to the original ones. These are great to cool off in, as well as take some photos.
Now it’s time for Cleopatra’s pools.
Cleopatra? Yes, the Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Once you get to the top of Pamukkale, it’s just a short walk past Roman ruins and a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre to Cleopatra’s pools.
Hot springs make the water feel like you’re getting into a bath, so don’t be wary of cold water like the one in Saklikent Gorge.
These pools were once indoors, in a Roman temple. The pure and clear warm water would have been a lot more private back in Cleopatra’s day.
Cleopatra spent her time in this very pool. It is said the water has healing qualities. Tread carefully underneath the floor below you – there are fallen Roman columns and artefacts beneath you. A truly historic place to relax.
Lets go to Dalyan. By boat!
Fancy a mud bath? It’s not for everyone! Yet it’s a Turkish tradition, and the mud has healing qualities for skin conditions – supposedly! Made out of sulphuric ingredients, the stench as you approach the now man-made mud baths is enough to put you off. That’s before you get in and feel what’s underneath you.
The mud, clumped together, feels like you’re walking over bodies. In the middle, it seems to gather. Be careful not to step down too far – I cut my foot on the rough stone bottom.
Once you get over the smell, it’s time to rub the mud over your skin. Trust me, afterwards you will feel soft.
Either wash off in the water you have just sailed over to get here, or use the natural spring water showers provided. Once you’ve done that, head to the indoor pools. No mud here, but sulphur qualities add to the water that you can swim in. Again, the smell gathers inside.
Once you have been to the mud baths, head back on your organised boat tour, and sail to turtle beach.
The beach is called Iztuzu beach, but it’s commonly referred to as turtle beach. The turtles come back to the land and nest. The rules are that after 8 PM, no one is allowed on the beach, and it’s guarded. The beach seems to be rather remote, yet it was a shame to discover that we humans have managed to ruin this beach. Plastic floats in the sea and the harbour. It’s also littered on the beach and in the bushes. Rows upon rows of boats are docked in the water where turtles swim. I’m told that many turtles are injured or killed by boat propellers.
We didn’t see any turtles on the beach. We only saw one as we were leaving. The turtle was feeding, probably out finding food, ready for when her hatchlings hatch on the beach.
The rules on the beach is that you must not bring sun beds past a certain point – people had. You must not dig holes – people had.
Maybe we should leave some places to the turtles, to nature. Not everything is for us.
There are plenty of things I haven’t covered here. Boat tours run to Oludeniz and Rhodes, and there is the famous Ephesus to visit. Turkey is also a great place for a beach holiday, and with beach holidays comes the ability to relax. See what you can, but remember you’re on holiday, too. See the sights, but enjoy the sun.