Dalyan's accessibility, relaxed atmosphere, and proximity to the mountains, waterways, and sea make it a good base for activity-filled day excursions. Kaunos Tours (tel. 0252/284-2816; www.kaunostours.com), bills itself as "the Outdoor Specialists," offering daily adventures such as Rafting along the Dalaman River (Apr-Oct) through scenic gorges (£32), a jeep safari (£24; £20 in winter), sea-kayaking tours (£26), forest mountain-biking (£26) and trekking to "Turtle Beach" or to the thermal baths (£20), to name the tip of their iceberg. Lunch is included on all-day tours, and children (where applicable) go along for 50% of the adult rate. Up for a real active vacation? As the first Turkish watersports outfitter to raft and kayak the area rapids, Alternatif Turizm (Camlik Sok. 10/1, Marmaris; tel. 0252/417-2720; www.alternatifraft.com) has branched out to include mountain biking expeditions, ski tours, and canyoning excursions. A day on the rapids, including all transfers and professional river guides, costs around 100TL. Their kayaking trips are the most pioneering, taking you around the most picturesque bays east of Marmaris, in addition to their kayaking trip up the Dalyan Delta to the hot springs.

Even at the stunning natural site of Iztuzu Beach, divers and snorkelers will feel like fish out of water, because the sea floor is equally pristine below the surf -- and rather boring to look at. Diving Ekincik Bay solves that problem, with its million-year-old caves and abundant marine life, though serious divers may want to hook up with a dive center offering day trips to the open waters around Marmaris. Kaunos Tours runs diving trips for £50, equipment included.

Lazier days can be had with the spectacularly beautiful Göcek 12 Island Tour excursion. The day trip, which is run by a number of local agencies including Kaunos Tours and the Dalyan boat cooperative, costs around 80TL per person. Not all tours are offered every day, so plan ahead if you have your heart set on something specific.


A Trip to Iztuzu Beach

One of the last and most important breeding grounds for the near-extinct Caretta caretta (loggerhead) turtle on the Mediterranean, Iztuzu Beach came to public consciousness in 1984 when conservationists mobilized against a local developer's plan for construction of a luxury hotel. Some good works backfire, and even though the developer never got around to building his hotel, the publicity only served to put the spot on the map. The Association for the Protection of Wildlife has established strict guidelines to benefit the turtles, among them: no distracting lights at night, no nighttime visitors during the summer months, and a request that sunbathers remain behind the line of wooden stakes so as not to disturb potential nests. Most recently, in 2007, Pamukkale University, under the direction of Professor Yakup Kaska, established the Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (Deniz Kaplumbagalari Arastirma Kurtarma Ve Rehabilitasyon Merkezi) right at ground zero for the Caretta caretta, on Iztuzu Beach. Visitors can tour the facility and see first-hand how conservationists are working to save these turtles from the threats caused by ship strikes, loss of habitat, and entanglement in fishing line. There's also a small museum (showing those turtles that didn't make it) on-site.

There are two separate beach areas: the privately run stretch receiving the tide of excursion boats, and the less crowded far end of the beach nearest the road, operated by the Dalyan municipality. With the sea at your feet, the hills over your shoulder, and the calm waters and tall reeds of the river delta at your back, pristine Iztuzu is really one of the loveliest beaches in the region.


A Trip to the Mud Baths

Most commonly reached by boat, the Mud Baths, a rough-and-ready outdoor water pool and mud bath fed by the Sultaniye Spring, is a mandatory stop on most guided excursions. Located about 10 minutes upriver and on the bank opposite Dalyan, this idiosyncratic outdoor "spa" was last dubbed "Aqua Mia," after passing through a long line of new management. There's a sign posted with instructions on the suggested procedure, which includes slapping on fistfuls of sulfur-rich mud and embarrassed waiting periods while the mud on your skin dries. Before rinsing under one of the outdoor showers, take a look in the mirror provided, and be sure to bring a camera.

There's a dockside restaurant and snack bar, and the fee for individuals (admission is included in a group price) is 4TL. A bit of advice: Leave that white bathing suit at home. A few minutes away by boat farther up the river toward the village of Köycegiz is Sultaniye and the Sultaniye Kaplicalari, a thermal spring that dates to Hellenistic times with thermal water as hot as 105°F (41°C). There are both hot and cold thermal pools as well as a mud bath, and it's a bit less touristy than the one downriver. You can combine a visit here with an excursion to the Köycegiz market on Mondays or hire a boat for the 20-minute ride upriver through the lake (also 4TL).


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.