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KALEKÖY (SİMENA)

Simena1Not far off the coast of Kaş on the Western Mediterranean, the small village of Kaleköy (Simena) is so lovely that it might have been designed to order to attract visitors.

Straggling up and down the slopes of a hill dotted with pretty houses half-hidden amid foliage and topped with the remains of a castle, it sits at the far end of a peninsula tenuously linked to the mainland.

To top things off the lapis-lazuli waters of the Mediterranean lap at the shoreline which is lined with ramshackle fish restaurants.

You could get to Kaleköy by road but that would be to make a mistake since the boat ride over from Kaş and back must rank as Turkey’s single most delightful day trip.

No sooner has the boat set sail than you will be lost amid rocky outcrops that jut dramatically from the sea.

Of course this is true of most of the Mediterranean coastline but what makes this particular trip so special is that you will also pass over the submerged remains of an ancient Lycian settlement simply called Batık Şehri (Sunken City) off the shores of lovely Kekova island.Simena2

Once upon a time it was possible to swim over these ruins but nowadays rules are stricter and sometimes even the boats steer clear - - in which case the answer is to come back later in a kayak.

If there’s one snag with the boat trip to Kaleköy it is that it guarantees you arrive with hordes of other people. Although many of them will head straight for the restaurants, this still means that you’ll be jostling amateur photographers all the way up the path to the castle even as you do your best to dodge the attentions of local women who are themselves doing their best to interest you in headscaves trimmed with tiny seashells and tiny packets of oregano.

There are two ways to avoid this.

The first is to get together with friends and pay for a private boat trip at a time to suit yourselves.

The second is to put up at one of the simple if somewhat pricy small pensions scattered around the village. Do this and you’ll enjoy the rare privilege of getting to see what makes the place tick after the visitors have gone.

Around the peninsula

Simena3The castle above Kaleköy (Castle Village) was built by the Knights of St John on the site of earlier fortifications and boasts its own dinky little theatre.

Beside it you’ll find the remains of the graveyard of Lycian Simena, huge stone sarcophagi littering the hillside like so many casually abandoned water bottles.

It’s all quite wonderfully picturesque and you won’t be surprised to learn that Rahmi Koç, one of Turkey’s richest men, has a holiday home here complete with helipad.

Sleeping

Ankh Pansiyon. Tel: 0242-874 2171

Kale Pansiyon. Tel: 0242-874 2111

Mehtap Pansiyon. Tel: 0242-874 2146

Transport info

Day trips can easily be booked in Kaş and Kalkan although most actually sail from Üçağız. Check what is included in the way of food and swimming opportunities and maybe take a look the day before to see which are the real party boats if that's not your scene. 

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