This page deals with Bodrum, Datca and Marmaris on Turkey's south Aegean coast. There is also a fair bit of information on Dalyan..
Technical point - many take the long Datca peninsula as the demarcation between the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. On that basis, Datca and Marmaris are far north Mediterranean locations - (basic image Google Earth).
The small bay to left (west) of the castle contains the marina with hundreds of daytrip boats and cruising yachts. Behind is a concourse and across the road a whole bunch of good value restaurants and bars. The ferries from Samos and Rhodes come in on the left side of the castle - there is a strip of restaurants and artisans along this stretch. The bay immediately to the right of the castle contains some seafront accommodation and overwater restaurants in the section closest the castle and the town beach in the middle and right. The beach has many restaurants and bars on and behind it and a lot of the area across the beach road is given to clubs and other entertainment. Halikarnas Disco is on the small pimple that denotes the break to the next bay which runs north-south to the cruise-liner pier. This bay has a continuation of the beach lounge thing with more recent resorts and apartments behind.
To left of image the built up area continues around to the next bay - the area is known as Gumbet and is a kind of Bodrum on its own with a longish stretch of beach, marinas, plenty of resorts/apartments and a bustling nightlife. Even further west the newer area of Bitez has been connurbated to the sprawl. Bitez has its own bay and is a more upmarket area. (image: modified Google Earth).
Bac Pension was a class act - lotsa marble and dark stained wood and the cleanest place I've stayed in anywhere.
The bazaar area takes up nearly half of the of the castle side of the eastern bay and goes several laneways back from the water. A big variety of shopping and eating opportunities. Bazaars in Turkish tourist towns tend to have wider avenues than the narrow twisting streets of those in the Greek islands and are equally well lit at night - very attractive. Not that the Greek versions aren't.
Water quality pretty good - perhaps I shouldn't be surprised: after 6 months of dry season it will not be suffering too much from the pollution that rain runoff brings from the streets, rooftops etc. What this coast is like in wet season may be another thing - but the tourists aren't here so it isn't an issue for this type of page.
Today the castle houses the best sea archaeology museum in Turkey - there are recovered wrecks and ship replicas going back to 6000BC, a stack of recovered artifacts, some good documentary stuff on the recovery expeditions and life in the castle back in the day. The castle itself is a good explore and has very fine views of both the eastern and western bays.
I'm not real big on history so I didn't do the other main historical sites in Bodrum - the Theatre of Halicarnassus, a Roman type amphitheater in very good condition - and the Mausoleum of Mausolus, apparently one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which is not in such good condition but well worth a look according to a woman I was talking with.
Okay, time for somewhere new - so next day I jumped on the car ferry for Datca.
I wanted to stay at one of the bungalows at Ilica Camping but the woman at tourist information where my ferry's shuttle bus terminated pointed towards a steep hill and said 2km. It was pretty hot so I picked Firat Apartments about 2 minutes away in the main street. Ilica Camping turned out to be less than 2km and there was an easier route via the harbour concourse but Firat was fine location wise and good value for a fully equipped apartment at about $30, if a little worn.
The beach sand is similar in quality to the town bay and continues in front of Ilica Camping which is situated in quite a nice park-like area. The built up part of the town more or less finishes at the harbour side of the bay.
The harbour area had a few fishing boats, a dive boat, about half a dozen daytrip boats and over a dozen cruising yachts, many of them international - you can do customs and immigration here. Datca seems a popular stop for Brit registered yachts. I reckon some would be tied up here over winter - cheaper than at Weymouth.
The daytrip boat in the background had a board advertising a trip to the nearby Greek island of Symi next day, but when I called by they didn't have enough takers. So I jumped on a bus for Marmaris.
Marmaris is another of those towns the trendy travel books hate - even busier and brasher than Kusadasi. A package holidayer's paradise full of Brits and Rooshians. But I wanted somewhere lively for my last 3 days on the coast and having visited in 2005 thought it just the ticket without having to spend too long in a bus.
I came in from Datca by bus - the 75km trip along the mountainous Datca peninsula is spectacular, climbing from sea level to way up with fabulous views of gorgeous bays down there both sides of the narrow finger of land. If you want an inexpensive daytrip out of Marmaris, a Datca excursion would do it well. The town itself is pretty nice (see up page) and a good contrast to Marmaris.
To the east (left facing the sea, right on the map) of main-street-meets-ocean is a v-shaped 600m seafront concourse with maybe more day trip boats than at Bodrum. It is backed by a big array of bars and restaurants. But the number and variety of these are dwarfed by those behind the 3km+ long beach strip (which unsurprisingly is often referred to as Long Beach) which begins a short distance west of the main street's end.
The town's marina is a dedicated area of finger piers packed with cruising yachts and other leisure craft immediately east of the day boat area - about where the "da" of "dayboats" is on the above image. Cruise liners tie up to the bayside finger of the marina.
Icmeler bottom left of image is a satellite offshoot of Marmaris - greener, more orderly laid out and definitely more upmarket. There are regular dolmuses which run along the coastal road plus water taxis from town central and from plenty of places along the 3km Marmaris beach strip.
Terunc is a few km further south, just out of image - it is a much smaller settlement built around an attractive compact bay and backed by soaring mountains. Road access is circuitous and steep but the water taxis do the trip. This is the place to go if you want something as relaxed as Datca (maybe a bit trendier) much closer to Marmaris.
I shot this from the sun deck of my first day trip's boat (see down page) just before cast-off - not exactly packed. That's shoulder season.
Most of the sea-front buildings seem 60s and 70s in vintage although no doubt you can find a very good room. Towards the far end of the strip the buildings go into the 80s. There are dozens of more modern hotels, resorts and apartments elsewhere.
Marmaris Boat Trips
Marmaris has even more boat trips than Bodrum. For a start, this is the northern end of the multi-day Blue Cruise circuit (although you will find a greater variety out of Fethiye further south). But I spent too long in the Greek islands and didn't have enough time for a 4 day thing - so I decided on two 1 day cruises.
BOAT TRIP ONE - THE BAY TOUR
We moored in the bay here for some swim time. I took my snorkeling face mask - once again a pretty barren bottom apart from big boulders down from the cliffs but a fair few fish. Water very clear and at 25 degrees a perfect temperature.
Our 90 minute beach/town stop was at Terunc which is a smallish appealing tourist place on a compact bay. Once again the beach could not compare to the clean yellow or blinding white ones you get in best beach areas overseas but it sure was a step or two up from Long Beach. We had 90 minutes here to shop, have a swim or grab a beer in one of the many beachfront restaurants/bars. A pretty good inclusion because most Marmaris visitors would not get to see Terunc otherwise. I certainly didn't in my 2005 visit.
BOAT TRIP TWO - THE DALYAN TOUR
I did this in 2005. This time I could have done another bay trip similar to Day 1 with a slightly different program but with a flight departing at 2355 I wanted one which took up a major period of time - and having done Dalyan I consider it one of the better boat day trips I've done anywhere.
I don't mind packed tours - as a sole traveler I'm a people watcher and those Rooshian bikini babes plus the beer-bellied and inked Rooshian and Brit blokes are good value. Brit tourists in general are always great for a talk and a few jokes.
All these people mean economies of scale - a much longer trip for less than the previous day's (30tl-$us17 including lunch against 35tl) although the non-alky drinks were not free.
After visiting the cave pictured up-page and having a nice ocean swim adjacent, the next stop was at this ocean beach at the mouth of the Dalyan river. That's the area's famous 4km long turtle hatching beach in background - the first few hundred meters is a bit cheesy with heaps of sun beds (the turtles tend to lay their eggs further down the beach) so we were dropped at this smaller unspoiled section across the river mouth. I've visited both beaches now - the sand is definitely finer than most places on this coast but those guide books who talk about white sand are dreaming - this is a brownish shade of yellow folks.
I had a swim in the sea just right of the beached shuttle boats - there was a fairly strong sideways current which I figured was the tide moving into the inlet - be careful of your kids here. To left of frame is a nice sheltered section of the lagoon with very still, calm water, ideal for kids and poor swimmers. In fact you could wade across most parts (might be tide-dependent). There is some cliff-provided shade back of beach for the sun-averse.
After maybe 45 minutes beach time we toured the inlet in background looking for turtles (no luck) and checking a crab fishing joint.
These kings were part of the pre Greek Lycian city of Caunos, the ruins of which could be glimpsed a bit further down river, but which we had no time to visit. Apparently they are pretty good - one reason to spend a few days in attractive Dalyan town - originally my plan but I dallied too long in the Greek islands and ran out of time. Click image to expand for more detail.
There is also a nice not-too-hot clear water thermal pool plus a big shower area to remove the mud. The German backpacker babes on my 2005 boat removed their bikini tops to help remove the mud. Those German backpacker babes.
That's not a svelte-challenged topless backpacker babe in foreground but a beer lovin' beefy Brit bloke. Those beer lovin' beefy Brit blokes.
XXXX - If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.
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