Today, the main town of Bodrum to the south is where you’ll find much of the nightlife. Its harbour isn’t quite on a par with glitzy Monte Carlo or Cannes (despite being described as the “St.Tropez of Turkey”). The money hasn’t quite made it in just yet. However, the new Yalıkavak Marina is home to mega yachts and designer stores where OutThere travellers can stock up on shorts from Orlebar Brown and Vilebrequin, while the rest of the peninsula is rich with secluded bays and pretty fishing towns such as Türkbükü (another beautiful, upscale resort town) and Gümüşlük (known for its Rabbit Island and seafront seafood eateries). Explore further and you’ll discover many other charming outposts along the coast – Torba, Bitez, Ortakent and Gundogan – for example. But like anywhere in the Aegean, we are learning to trust our instincts and our eyes, even within some of the towns we’ve mentioned and love. There are many places, like Gümbet and Turgutreis that have sadly been scourged by mass, package tourism – enough said.
For me, holidaying in Turkey is as much about the food as the soul-reviving sunlight, turquoise seas and charming people, although I’m glad to report that we are not going to get embroiled in another captain-deckhand escapade on a yacht that ends up with us having olive oil massages from the pair of them. The first time we came to Bodrum, we were initiated to the local towns and harbours by a certain Captain Mo, who we had met when we crashed a regatta after-party. The following day, we received texts saying, “You come my boat? I pick you up?” Well, sometimes you have to live a little.
As two women with a baby on the way, this time we are on our best behaviour (but that doesn’t mean you have to be!) and we find our way around Bodrum by taxis and the odd speed boat, which by the way, is a very glamorous way to zip across the bays for an afternoon drink at one venue, then quickly for sundowners at another. But with enough stories under our belts, we are content with an ice-cold glass of champagne and the twinkling lights of the coast from land. Sometimes, it is rather nice to replace old memories of a place with new ones.
Photography courtesy of Burak Demir, Serdar Yurulmaz, Nejdet Duzen
Get out there
… give Turkey a chance. For various geo-political reasons, tourism dropped from 42 million visitors in 2015 to 25 million in 2016, but things have since settled down.
… apply for a Turkish tourist e-visa in advance online (it currently costs $20.55) unless you’re a national of one of the exempt countries. Buying one on arrival means long queues and you need cash.
… charter a yacht, ideally a traditional Turkish gulet. The new Yalıkavak marina (also known as Palmarina) has a wide variety of vessels available, as does Bodrum harbour.
… forget to hire a car. The winding coastline and reasonably empty roads make for some fun and picturesque driving, and there’s no shortage of beaches and towns to explore along the peninsula.
… refrain from learning a few words of Turkish before you go. A little lingo will get you a long way. Here’s a crash course: Merhaba means “hello”, tesekkür ederim means “thank you” and nasilsin means “how are you?”
… try and visit out of season. This does provide a completely different experience from the peak periods and is much quieter, but for good reason: most of the hotels and direct flights tend to only really operate between April and October.
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