It took a while for holidaymakers to discover the magnificent beaches of Turkey, but discover them they did, and now, Turkey is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Its coastline is long and varied, and there are magnificent beaches all along it. Although the Black sea coast is ruggedly beautiful, it is somewhat chilly compared to the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas, and you’ll find the best beaches of Turkey in the west and south. Here are some beaches that can only be described as Turkish Delight!
Also known as Turtle Beach because it is one of the most important Mediterranean breeding sites for Loggerhead turtles, Iztuzu Beach is in the southwest of Turkey, near Dalyan. Iztuzu was voted as number one in the choice of best beaches of Turkey of 2013 by Tripadvisor users. It is a beautiful 4.5 km narrow stretch of golden sand between the delta of the Dalyan River and the Med. Reachable by water taxi, thanks to being a protected wildlife area it is not overrun by tourist developments, but there are sun beds and parasols which are definitely needed when the temp soars to 40°C.
Golden sand and clear turquoise water is what draws sun seekers to Kaputas Beach, near Kas. The beach is a stretch of sand that opens out from a deep gorge and its position makes it susceptible to high waves on a windy day. It also means there’s quite a few steps down to reach the beach, but it’s worth the effort, especially as getting there on the road between Kalkan and Kas has glorious views. There’s a gorgeous little cave to explore – a local will run you there in his dinghy.
If you like your Turkish beaches quiet and unspoiled, Kabak is the perfect choice. Lying at the end of the Kabak Valley on the southwestern coast where the Mediterranean meets the Aegean, this gorgeous little enclave of shingle beach is surrounded on three sides by lush pine forest. Getting to Kabak is an adventure in itself as the road from Olu Deniz snakes along the top of huge rocky cliffs before coming to an abrupt end on a hilltop. You then have to climb down through forest to reach the beach and the gorgeous blue water.
Who could possibly resist a beach with such a romantic name? Butterfly Valley beach is a gorgeous little beach at the end of a v-shaped valley between two spectacular towering cliffs. Stay a few minutes on the cliff top in the tiny village of Faralya to gaze down onto the pristine beach hundreds of feet below and to steel yourself for the adventurous trek down the rocky path to the sea. 40 minutes down and an hour back up, you need to be dammed sure it’s worth the effort; it is! Of course, the easier way would be to reach the beach by boat.
Patara is easily among the best beaches in Turkey. It lies in another of Turkey’s national parks where the Loggerhead turtle is protected, and indeed, the beach is closed after sunset between May and October to allow the turtles to lay and hatch their eggs in peace. But turtle eggs aren’t the only things hidden in the sand. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Xanthos is nearby and Patara used to be the port serving the ancient city. Ancient ruins litter the 12 kms of sugar-soft sand and also the floor of the adjacent lake.
Once described as one of the secret beaches of Turkey, the word is now out. Cirali is special. Another beach that is saved from over-development because it is protected area for Loggerhead turtles, Cirali sits between a nature reserve and the ruins of Olympos. Flanked by rocky, pine covered hills that seem to tumble into the sea, and overlooked by Mount Tahtali, the home of the Gods, there’s a charming boho feel to Cirali which is one of the most unspoiled and quietest beaches in the Mediterranean. The sand is soft and golden and the azure waters warm and calm, and in whichever direction you look, the views are spectacular.
So which are the best beaches in turkey for snorkeling? Well, I would pick Sivrice Bay in Assos on the Aegean coast. What makes it so good is that won’t find Sivrice Bay in many guide books. You also won’t find large hotels or resort trappings. Instead you’ll be treated to a narrow pebbly shore that is fringed with olive groves and water so clear that you can see the fish with or without a snorkel.
Some of the loveliest Turkish beaches are on its islands. Gökçeada is one of two Aegean islands that are inhabited, but remain delightfully tranquil as they are not so high up on the tourist menu as places to stay. Aydincik is a beautiful stretch of golden sand on the island’s pretty south coast. It is a favorite spot for windsurfers as near to the charming beach there’s a salt lake they can retreat to if the sea gets too wild. If you stay on the island you can catch a ferry over to the Gallipoli Peninsula to visit the ANZAC landing beaches and the ruins of the ancient city of Troy.
Palamutbükü sits on an untouched tongue of land on the Datca Peninsula that juts far out into the Mediterranean Sea. The spit is awash with olive trees, almond trees and aromatic wild flowers. The golden shingle shimmers in the bright sunlight and the cool water ripples like turquoise satin. Although there is some development, it’s mostly in the form of modest guest houses. There are many days when the beach is practically deserted. Swim out into the clear water to watch the Greek ferries go by on the horizon or pull up a chair at one of the small, fragrant tavernas to spot several Greek islands in the distance.
Aren’t the beaches of Turkey magnificent? I love them all. Do you have a favorite – listed here or not?