Every so often a friend or some world traveler we meet will mention the Turquoise Coast of Turkey as one of the great places in the world for beach lovers. I remember the first time, maybe 15 years ago, a friend said he was renting a house in southwestern Turkey and I thought that was just strange. “What’s there?” I asked.
Finally we’re getting a chance to find out for ourselves and so far, with one stop under our belts, it’s pretty fabulous. To be specific, this Turkish Riviera, as it’s also called, is generally considered to run from Fethiye, in the southwest corner of Turkey, to Antalya, a little under 200 miles to the east if you follow the coastal road. The classic way to travel in the area is on a week-long gullet tour, a two- or three-masted wooden Turkish boat, but for now at least we’re staying more or less on land.
Leaving Pamukkale it would have made sense for us to head straight to Fethiye and then work our way east along the coast, but we made plans to meet a friend in Antalya, so instead we picked a town partway along the route so we could get to Antalya after a brief stop. We found what we thought would be a nice hotel in Kalkan, so that’s where we ended up.
Here’s what we learned: Kalkan is very pretty and the coast itself is gorgeous. And the town is almost entirely British tourists. It was weird to be someplace that felt as though they’d just airlifted Bristol or Leeds or something into Turkey. I mean everybody was British. In fact, when some Kalkan news agency surveyed 490 tourists in 2012, they found that 96 percent – 462 of them – were from Britain.
Except for that demographic oddity and feeling like we were surrounded by 50-something Brits (because we were), it was a beautiful little stop. We spent one day on a boat with maybe 30 other people sailing up and down the coast around Kekova, a bit east of Kalkan, and then one day at the beach in town. Both were great, largely because the coast here is really spectacular. Maybe not quite as perfect as the Sardinian Emerald Coast, but really, really good.
One other reason we’re enjoying Turkey: so far, at least, it’s really cheap. Hotels are cheap, restaurants are cheap, buses are cheap, even the day-long boat trip was cheap. Wine is usually somewhat expensive in comparison to other prices, presumably because they tax the hell out of if, but otherwise this part of our adventure is being very gentle on our budget. Great food, great beaches, great history, and great prices; that’s a pretty good package. From here it’s off to Antalya to meet up with our Albanian friend Rezart for a few days.