When we embarked on this trip, we wanted it to be a journey – the journey as a physical journey around the world and a spiritual journey to study and meditate to further our spiritual development. But sometimes, one also needs a break from one’s journey and so we came to Fethiye with two inter-related goals in mind: spend time on the beach and act like tourists. We successfully accomplished both goals. We plan on having a few posts on our digression into tourists – with the first being our take on the beaches we visited. Dumpty wanted his beach time and we certainly indulged.
Like Antalya, the one big takeaway for me was that the majority of the beaches had rocks rather than soft sand. I have always been a soft-sand beach girl so the shock to the system of rock beaches was significant. I wish I had bought slip-on shoes.
At first I wasn’t excited about visiting the touristy Oludeniz beach, but I must admit it was the most beautiful beach we saw in Fethiye. It reminded me of the turquoise waters in the Caribbean but made even more beautiful by the surrounding mountains of Mount Babadag. Thankfully, the beach had full amenities (shower, toilets, etc) and plenty of places to grab food, drinks, or other things you really don’t need but find yourself wanting (perhaps an impulse buy of a condo??). I know Dumpty really enjoyed the beach and I did admire the view, but I just couldn’t get over those damn rocks. Every new wave forced me to find new landing on the tortuous rocky ground. After lots of yelping, I got out of the water to lay down on our small towels. The natural thinking should have been “Ah, I can’t believe we are in such a beautiful beach and basking in the sun. This is life,” but the actual thoughts were “The sunscreen has probably worn off. Is my skin going to look like leather after this trip? It’s so hot! If I just sit still in just this position, I won’t feel the rocks. Nope, didn’t work. I wonder how long Dumpty wants to stay. I am done with beaches”.
The best quality of this beach was its soft luxurious sand. Hallelujah. It was the first sandy beach we had seen so far in Turkey. Also, a big plus for me was its long stretches of shallow waters. I could walk out about 150 meters into the Meditarrean Sea before it got deep (I am short and not a strong swimmer, so shallow waters are a huge plus for me). Dumpty kept pushing me to stay in the water, but I just wanted to lay down on the sandy beach. Even the gusty wind didn’t bother me. I put my shorts on my head and took a nap—I was in my Zen mode. Dumpty barely recognized me because my entire body and area was covered up in sand. Patara beach was also the longest beach (12 km) in Fethiye, but it didn’t have as many amenities as the other beaches; there was one café and some toilets but nothing else. I did see some trash on the sand, but it was blissfully quiet and that was enough for me. The other downside was that Patara Beach was about a 90-minute drive from were we staying in Fethiye.
Butterfly Valley Beach
We could only get to Butterfly Valley by boat and the valley definitely had that “wow” factor when I first laid eyes on it. I was super excited about visiting this beach because I heard it was off the beaten path. Well I was wrong. There were, of course, many positives to this hard-to-reach beach, such as seeing the Tiger Butterflies (didn’t see any), camping the night in tents right on the beach (didn’t have time for it), and having basic amenities. The rocky beach had a very small coastline
sandwiched between mountains. In just 20 minutes on foot, we could have also seen a waterfall inland, however we were told it was dismally small and wasn’t worth the hike. The biggest downside that I see to this small beach was that throughout the afternoon wave after wave of boats park right on the beach to let hundreds of tourists, like us, get on-shore. It can get a bit annoying.
St. Nicholas Island
The biggest draw of St. Nicholas was of course Santa Clause! Over a decade ago, historians and archeologists found the original tomb of Saint Nicholas, a fourth century Roman Bishop, amongst the five sixteen hundred years old churches. Early Christians in the region used to make a pilgrimage to the saint’s tomb. However in the 650s, the inhabitants fled from invaders and moved the bones of Saint Nicholas to a safer hiding spot (you can read more here).
Now you probably think we explored the whole island. Well…we got lazy. We had to pay a small fee (not more than 10 Turkish Lira) to enter the island, and, by this point we were tired from being on a cruise boat all day. So we, to my regret, didn’t actually go on the island.
Our hotel, Delta, was on this beach, which was loaded with shops and restaurants.The beach, like most others, was rocky and had beautiful clear waters and mountains in the horizons. For us it was super convenient. Downtown Fethiye was a short bus ride away, and we got to walk around Fethiye’s Tuesday Market.
To our delight, almost everyone spoke English (this was not the case in Antalya) and attracted an un-usually high number of Brits. My favorite part about Calis Beach was waking up to views of the crashing waves every morning and seeing sunsets in the evening as we jogged on the boardwalk. Due to the rocks again, I only ventured to the actual beach once. I was perfectly content basking in the beauty from my comfortable front-row seat in the restaurant or room balcony.
On our first day, we stopped by Cadianda, a local tourism agency on Calis Beach. For only $400 we were able to do paragliding in Oludeniz, a six-island boat cruise, a jeep safari and visit to Saklikent gorge, Tlos, and Patara beach, and an overnight trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale. We will touch on the Ephesus and Pamukkale trip in another blog post. This post is about going full tourist, a perilous mission memorialized by the genius of Kirk Lazarus.
Paragliding was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again. Not the adrenaline rush I was hoping for, and it was relatively short in duration not cheap. I would rather try something like bungee or jumping out of an airplane. Six-Island Cruise was a great way to see several hard to reach beaches with just the right amount of time to take swim in. We would have been happier with a four-island cruise, because the hopping between six islands in just one day became tiring.
Pics of paragliding
Jeep Safari – I was skeptical at first but turned out to be incredibly fun. You must go with Captain Jack Sparrow – he was crazy (he calls himself “Animal”) and didn’t think twice before throwing us into the ice-cold pool or dumping water on our heads. Southern Turkey was super hot this time of year, so the water gun fights were perfect. We were rarely dry on this 9-hour trip. If other tourists on a separate jeep didn’t blast us with water, then children on the streets did with water hoses. The highlights of the trip were visiting Saklikent Gorge and Patara Beach. The gorge’s source of water came from the melted snow so you can imagine how cold it was and it had the perfect depth for walking into. It was the most stunning gorge I’ve ever seen.
After constantly changing beds for the past 2 weeks, it was nice staying in the same hotel for five nights. We got to do yoga almost every day and got some much-needed exercise in. We brought this A.M. and P.M. Yoga DVD with us and it was perfect for beginners like us; plus each video was only about twenty minutes long. We finally felt some normalcy in our lives. There were two things I learned from Fethiye: having a daily routine is highly comforting and I really can’t stand rocky beaches. I am so glad we plan to spend a solid two weeks in Istanbul!