Why Choose Kalkan In Turkey As Your European Holiday Destination?
Kalkan - a pretty seaside town
Thinking Of Travel To Turkey?
Europe is a popular holiday destination for vacationers from many different countries. Travelers come from distant places including Australia, Canada and the USA. For anybody who hasn't visited Turkey before, choosing a destination in this massive and extremely varied country can be daunting.
Factors considered will be historical sites nearby, other leisure attractions, quality of surrounding restaurants and comfort of hotel. Turkey is a big country, and having journeyed so far in the first place the hope is that the destination will fulfill the holiday requirements.
We visited Turkey fifteen years ago, and vowed never to go back! The hotel in Bodrum was noisy and its neighbors even noisier. However, when staying in Greece the next year we were persuaded that there were very different places in this country and in particular a small seaside town in the south was attractive and unspoiled. We decided to give Turkey another chance and have returned every year since then to the same place - Kalkan.
Kalkan is a small town with a tiny harbor nestled in a breathtaking bay in the South of Turkey. The small cluster of houses in the center, many given over to catering for the visitors, has gradually expanded up the surrounding hillside but overall has not become over exploited. The local council has kept development within reasonable bounds and the place still has a nice local feel about it.
This article describes some of the attractions (there are extremely few pitfalls) to be found in a relatively unspoiled holiday destination suitable for couples and families alike.
Enjoying the Kalkan Regency pool
Choosing Where To Stay In Kalkan
Kalkan has grown in size over the recent years that I have been visiting with many villas and small hotels springing up. There are no large chain hotels but a number of boutiques that offer a high quality of service that can be better described as "we aim to please" rather than five star clinical excellence.
A good example of a quality boutique hotel in Kalkan is the Kalkan Regency. A somewhat grand title for a family run business of 30 or so rooms and a dozen suites that maintains a very high quality of service for its discerning guests. Walking down from the Regency to eat in town provides a pleasant "constitutional" and every year new businesses are noticed along the way and others have disappeared. On balance, the place always seems much the same.
Given that finding a suitable place to stay, either self catering or a hotel depending on your preference, can make or break your valuable stay it is essential that you can be sure your choice is the right one. Try looking on Simpsons Holidays web site at some of the properties it manages to get an idea of what is on offer in Kalkan.
Dinner out in the bay
Korsan Fish Restaurant
Eating in Kakan
A search of "tripadvisor" reveals 130 restaurants in Kalkan that have received numerous reviews. Scrolling down the rankings I note that some we do not favor are near the top, whereas those we visit regularly, Sofra, Korsan Fish Restaurant and La Terrazza are listed between 20 and 40 or so.
Most of the eateries in Kalkan are fine, but the atmosphere in some of them is outstanding. Many are situated on the roof tops, and the trick is to find or book in advance a table by the edge that gives you an unrestricted view over the Kalkan rooftops to the bay and sea beyond. Looking out to the bay as the sun sets, with mouse and snake islands backed by glorious pinks, reds and golds as you sip your glass of chilled local wine is a marvelous end to the day.
For those that like a little more zing, the waterfront bars and restaurants are a more lively but can get a little hot and claustrophobic during humid weather.
Turkish food is varied and generally very tasty for the European and American palates. There is plenty of fish and salads with delicious oven baked breads (or "pide") to accompany all courses. Turkish wine is remarkably good, if a little unsophisticated generally. If you like a crisp dry white then Chankya will fit the bill at a very reasonable price.
Kalkan is not a noisy place for night dwellers. Some of the restaurants will put on local live folk music and some hotels will have a Turkish night - but do not expect the usual tacky belly dancers. If you want a lively time you would be better heading for Bodrum around the coast to the North.
That said, if you do have teenagers in tow then the social life around the bars in Kalkan can be quite attractive, as my daughter found during our visits. One thing we were thankful for is that the town is a very safe place, with all the locals careful to keep it that way to protect the reputation - Kalkan is a rather gentile place.
My daughter would eat with us in town, then leave us for one of the bars to meet the friends she had made from our hotel and others. Waiters from our hotel would also visit these bars after their shifts and many a time we chatted with our breakfast server who said that he had "kept an eye" on my daughter. Nowhere is 100% safe these days, but we always felt safer in Kalkan than we ever did back home!
Places to visit
Depending on your preference and the type of holiday you are seeking, you may be interested in some excursions from Kalkan. There are many local agencies that can arrange these for extremely reasonable prices, or you can book through your tour operator or hotel at slightly more cost.
As Turkey is such a big place, many of these excursions can take you on day or even longer trips. There are also many places of interest close to, and it is possible to fill your holiday with local attractions if you want to stay close to your base.
Kas (pronounced "Kash")
Not to everybody's taste, this slightly more developed town has been described as "Bohemian". It has its share of shops and restaurants, and more in the way of facilities such as main branches of banks and the like. It is a taxi ride away from Kalkan, or if you are on a budget you can take the economical dolmus buses, though these can get a little hot and sticky in the summer! Some people prefer Kas, but I like the smaller and quieter Kalkan.
A must for first time visitors. This impressive natural crack in the geological plates is a fascinating day out. You have to paddle upstream along a narrow corridor in breathtaking scenery. The trip can fill a day and is usually combined with visits to carpet weaver demonstrations, a lazy lunch at a trout farm and visits to places of historical interest.
I have intentionally steered clear of detailed descriptions of the many and varied places of historical interest that you can visit from a base in Kalkan. Turkey is full of them and to do all of them justice in this short article would be impossible. Suffice to say that if you do decide to visit Turkey, your research will reveal a plethora of sites and museums that will demand your attention.
One of my favorites requires a two day trip away from your base (remember how big Turkey is). It was once the trade center of the ancient world, and also a religious center for Christianity. The ancient city is located in Selcuk, a small town 30 kilometers from Kusadasi. Any trip to Ephasus can take in sites such as the House of Virgin Mary, the Basilica of St John and the Temple of Artemis. Well worth the effort!
Books about the region
Scuba Diving In Kalkan
Kalkan is by the sea and therefore much of the leisure activity revolves around water-sports and boating activity. Scuba diving is available for those wishing to give it a go or for the more advanced who want to get a few dives in during their holiday.
I have dived just about all the sites earmarked by the two or three operators who run diving excursions in Kalkan. They are mostly scenic dives but one or two are worthy of mention and quite nice additions for your logbook.
The Duchess of York
Kalkan bay is protected by a reef at about six metres below the sea surface. The port has been a sheltered haven in times of storm but unfortunately many boats and ships running for safety have run aground on the shallow entrance before the water returns to a much deeper and safer berthing depth. The Duchess of York was one of these victims and broke its back on the reef. The parts of the ship rolled back seawards leaving parts at 40 and 50 meters and even deeper as the reef disappears in the distance at 80/90 meters of depth.
As an experienced diver, seeing the Duchess of York at 50 or so meters was an awesome experience and as deep as a diver should really be going on air. It is well worth the extra organizing that was needed to make this a safe and memorable dive.
Other dives around Kalkan Bay are more than suitable for most levels of sport divers and can provide great scenery and the chance for sightings of schooling barracuda, larger pelagic tuna and other species. Frenks Wall is situated on the edge of the bay area area and forms several wall dives. It is famous for the plethora of "Amphorae" that can be seen, many of the clay wine vessels used by the Romans and Greeks still intact. Drop-offs and "swim throughs" make this an area of interest to the novice and experienced diver alike.
The Kalkan Dive Centre
The Kalkan Dive Centre is based at the Kalamari Beach and caters for all levels of diver. The owner Altan is an accomplished and safe diver and ensures that the guides he employes are competent to show you around and make your diving in Kalkan enjoyable.
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Kalkan can provide an interesting and fun filled holiday, or simply a restful break. There is nothing too demanding about the place.
You will fly to Dalaman, from there it is a one and a half to two hour journey by road. A car is usually that bit quicker than the bus. Several airlines fly to Dalaman and a number of companies provide holiday services in Kalkan. A browse of the web will reveal various privately owned villas that can be booked independently.
Although a relatively easy place to access and organize a visit, even from as far away as the USA, Kalkan remains unspoiled. In my view it is much the same place as it was when I first came in 2001.
Not a great place for beaches, unless you take a short trip by bus or taxi to the nearby and famous Patara beach, the place makes up for it by boating activities, great pools and a few water front clubs. It is certainly a user friendly place that can offer a relaxing or interesting leg in a European break, or provide a full and satisfying one week or two week holiday in its own right. I have been at least ten times now, and though we have stopped going every year, we know that if we ever want a week of rest and relaxation in a place where it does not take days or a week to settle in, then Kalkan is the place. For us now it is a place to recharge our batteries.