Beyond the tourist traps, discover the bays and ancient sites of southwestern Turkey

We dropped anchor on a sea that dazzled with all the shades of a peacock – royal blue, iridescent azure and shimmering emerald.

After leaving Kalemya Bay, just outside Fethiye, we are alone at Aquarium Cove, one of Turkey’s best dive sites. It’s too tempting not to jump in, as just below the surface is a 95-foot-deep cavern where a ray of light illuminates the wondrous rainbow-colored coral.

This stretch of coastline, dubbed the Turquoise Riviera, has an unknown quality. Later, perched on deck, we watch the sun streak its coppery rays across the sky and we certainly feel like we’ve found the last untapped corner of the Mediterranean.

Angelina Villa-Clarke explores the southwest coast of Turkey, known as the Riviera Turquoise. Pictured is the area’s stunning Oludeniz Beach

In reality, the southwest coast of Turkey may well be frequented by holidaymakers but remains largely untouched by mass tourism.

“Throughout the roughly 600 miles that make up the Turkish Riviera, you can find unspoiled beaches, secret coves and pretty coastal villages,” says Michael Fleetwood of SevenTravel, a company specializing in finding places “beyond the guide” (seventravel.co .UK).

As night falls, we return to Kalemya and the Hillside Beach Club, a resort on its own crescent-shaped beach with terraced rooms set into the cliffs. While you can hear English, Italian, and German accents all around, the hotel also attracts plenty of well-heeled Turkish guests.

Pristine: Angelina checks into the Hillside Beach Club (pictured above), a resort on its own crescent-shaped beach

Pristine: Angelina checks into the Hillside Beach Club (pictured above), a resort on its own crescent-shaped beach

Hillside Beach Club rooms are adjoining the cliffs.

Hillside Beach Club rooms are adjoining the cliffs. “While you can hear English, Italian and German accents all around, the hotel also attracts a lot of well-heeled Turkish guests,” Angelina says.

Angelina visits Kayakoy, a village

Angelina visits Kayakoy, a ‘ghost’ village made up of eerie ruins (pictured)

One of the experiences offered by the resort is a trip to Kayakoy, a “ghost” village of eerie ruins that overlooks rolling pine forests that tumble towards the sea. Originally called Levissi, the town was home to some 6,000 Greeks until 1923, when the “population exchange” after the war between Greece and Turkey forced its inhabitants to leave. It was left intact as a reminder of this dark part of history.

In fact, this region is full of ancient sites, but for more intrepid travelers, the Lycian Way, a hiking trail that stretches about 300 miles from Fethiye to Antalya, provides a showcase for many of the region’s highlights.

The route also passes close to Butterfly Valley, a nature reserve with a waterfall accessible only by boat from Oludeniz. It is home to a hundred species of butterflies and millions of colorful creatures can be seen fluttering about.

After a day of exploring, you can get rid of the dust at the Sanda Nature Spa at the Hillside Beach Club.

Nestled among pines and carob trees, it overlooks the resort’s quiet beach where, with no phones or kids allowed, all you’ll hear are the waves lapping against the shore and the wind rustling through the trees.

Hillside Beach Club “captures the essence of a relaxed vacation spirit,” according to Angelina.  Above is a double bedroom with a private terrace

Hillside Beach Club “captures the essence of a relaxed vacation spirit,” according to Angelina. Above is a double bedroom with a private terrace

The menu is locally inspired at Pasha On The Bay restaurant in Hillside (pictured)

The menu is locally inspired at Pasha On The Bay restaurant in Hillside (pictured)

The Hillside Beach Club's Sanda Nature Spa, pictured, overlooks the resort's quiet beach - where no phones or children are allowed

The Hillside Beach Club’s Sanda Nature Spa, pictured, overlooks the resort’s quiet beach – where no phones or children are allowed

Here, you can enjoy a traditional Turkish hammam or opt for treatments inspired by age-old Aegean techniques and ingredients, like the lemon and honey facial. The complex also offers a selection of sports activities, such as paddle, tennis and volleyball.

Dining at Hillside is another highlight. At Pasha On The Bay, where you eat on the beach by candlelight, the menu is locally inspired. The series of mezze dishes includes ezme (tomato salad with lemon juice and pomegranate molasses), honey dripping goat cheese, white bean salads and silky eggplant sprinkled with feta.

Every morning there is yoga at Silent Beach, after which you can start your day with a traditional Turkish ‘Kahvalti’ breakfast of cold meats, local cheeses, borek pastries and eggs served in a wooden pan. copper known as sahan. The choice is vast, so you can also sample local yogurts, freshly baked breads spread with rosemary-infused honey, and freshly made omelettes.

The town of Fethiye is a 20-minute drive away, so it’s easy to immerse yourself there. Leaving the hotel, you’ll pass through a working shipyard where the skeletons of half-finished yachts on stilts give insight into the importance of the region’s maritime heritage.

Above is the portion of the Lycian Way - a hiking trail that stretches for around 300 miles - which overlooks Oludeniz Beach

Above is the portion of the Lycian Way – a hiking trail that stretches for around 300 miles – which overlooks Oludeniz Beach

The lively bazaar (Tuesdays and Fridays) takes you to the heart of the old town. Look for striped cotton hammam towels, aromatic oils mixed with citrus, rose and myrtle, and brightly painted tableware to take home.

Unique Hotel puts you in the heart of Fethiye. Carved out of a series of 150-year-old townhouses, the intimate property has just 19 rooms, each with its own design and original features, with prices starting at £106 per night (hoteluniqueturkey.com).

Or there’s Yazz Collective, a boutique hotel located on Turunc Pinari, one of Fethiye’s most idyllic coves and accessible only by boat. Organic architecture corresponds to the sustainable ethic of retirement. In addition to local art on display in its Faar gallery, there is a menu created with local produce and cooked over an open fire. Rooms start from £385 per night (yazzcollective.com).

Angelina visits Fethiye, pictured, where there is a bustling bazaar twice a week in the heart of the old town.

Angelina visits Fethiye, pictured, where there is a bustling bazaar twice a week in the heart of the old town. “Look out for striped cotton hammam towels, aromatic oils mixed with citrus, rose and myrtle, and brightly painted tableware to take home,” she says.

There are plenty of pristine beaches to discover near the Hillside Beach Club, such as Kidrak Beach (above), known as Paradise Beach due to its icing sugar sand.

There are plenty of pristine beaches to discover near the Hillside Beach Club, such as Kidrak Beach (above), known as Paradise Beach due to its icing sugar sand.

Meanwhile, the days gradually wind down at the Hillside Beach Club. Whitewashed rooms, with breezy terraces overlooking the bay, offer cool respite from the heat outside.

While there are plenty of pristine beaches to discover nearby – like Kidrak Beach, known as Paradise Beach due to its icing-sugar sand – the resort’s Serenity Beach is ideal if you just want to hang out. square. Located in the bay next to the hotel, you can reach it by following a nature trail through the cliffs or by boarding a charming sailboat that takes you there at regular intervals during the day.

For refreshments, there is a cocktail bar and a small restaurant serving a simple daily menu. It captures the essence of a laid-back vacation spirit.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

Angelina Villa-Clarke was a guest at Hillside Beach Club, where rooms start from £322 per night based on two full board sharing (hillsidebeachclub.com/en).

About Ariella McGuire

Check Also

Twitter employed Indian and Chinese government agents, alleges whistleblower testified before US State Congress

The former security chief also added that Twitter lacks the ability to hunt down and …