From Kas to Demre, archaeologists have discovered the remains of no fewer than 17 ancient Lycian sites, some of which remain interred and unidentified. These include Teimiussa (at the village port of Üçagiz), Simena, and the nearby and less visited Apollonia and Aperlai, Andriake, and Myra. If you want to venture up where the air is a bit cooler, the site of Arykanda, up in the mountains, will offer you a glimpse of how the heady, pre-mortgage-crisis days of antiquity may have looked to a society with very, very extravagant tastes. You could just as easily backtrack to the archaeological sites of the Xanthos Valley, to the west of Kalkan.
The surrounding protected bays, islands, and bleached coral cliffs provide some of the best opportunities for sun-and-fun boat trips to the sunken city of Kekova Bay, or simple days lolling around the deck of a fishing boat or gulet. Travel agencies hoping to grab a piece of the tourist pie line the marina and tout day excursions to the area attractions at very competitive rates. Bougainville Travel, at Çukurbagli Caddesi, the continuation of Ibrahim Serin Caddesi (tel. 0242/836-3142; www.bougainville-turkey.com), a local English-speaking, British/Turkish/Dutch partnership, is a full-service travel agency and the most well-equipped outfitter for adventure travel and outdoor pursuits on the Mediterranean. Sea-kayaking trips to Kekova cost around 40€ for individuals, 35€ for groups. Bougainville recently added mountain-biking tours and canyoning excursions into the Saklikent or Kibris canyons to their regular offerings of sea kayaking, white-water rafting, hiking, and jeep safari trips.
Boat Trips to the Sunken City
The region of and around Kekova offers a view into an unspoiled world of picturesque fishing villages and mysterious archaeological sites that long ago succumbed to burial at sea. The most visible examples of a long-gone sunken civilization lie along the northern coast of Kekova island, submerged beneath the transparent waters of Kekova Bay. Glass-bottom boats allow you to see fleeting details of buried amphorae or other artifacts, but the most impressive relics are the city walls and private homes visible just beneath the waterline. Swimming and snorkeling here are prohibited to preserve the location against random disappearances of archaeological findings, and it is still a mystery as to what all these walls, terraces, and pottery shards represent.
In their haste to get on a boat, many people overlook Üçagiz, a perfect example of a sleepy fishing town, with a cluster of truly remarkable Lycian tombs woven into the fabric of life at the far end of the village (some visible by sea). For now, Üçagiz is only home to a couple of well-worn pensions, but if you don't mind really roughing it, you may want to consider bedding down here -- truly still off the mainstream tourist radar. Visits also tend to ignore the ancient sites of Aperlai and Apollonia, located west of Üçagiz on the mainland and accessible by boat from the sea via the Akar Pass, the effort required to get there has ensured the preservation of another "sunken city," and you can plan some time on land to explore the ruins on foot.
If you're traveling independently, you may want to arrive in Üçagiz by 9 or 10am, in order to negotiate the best deals with the local fishermen for a day out on their private boat. In high season and no longer pegging their rates to a sagging dollar, boatmen are now asking for -- and getting -- hefty amounts of cash for a day out. Plan to arrive in Kaleköy (ancient Simena) by lunchtime for a scenic, relaxing, and simply marvelous meal of fresh fish. Excursions to Simena must be negotiated with the local boatmen to Kaleköy, based on a half-day rental. If you're planning on staying overnight, enlist your pension owner in getting transport over.
Check to see if the day boat out of the marina is operating. Otherwise, every travel agent in town offers trips to Kekova, lunch and transfers to Üçagiz included. Boats depart out of Üçagiz for Kekova Island in the morning, touring the bays and islands with stops for swimming and snorkeling and exploration of some area caves. Tours usually include a stopover at the untouched village of Kaleköy for a hike up the hill to the medieval Byzantine fortress of the Knights of St. John (entrance 8TL) and a close-up of a row of sarcophagi, as well as idyllic views of the islands and bays. Sadly, these tours don't allow time for much more than that, making an all-too-hasty exit off this seaside village.
Kaleköy (Ancient Simena)
It's almost impossible for a fishing village to retain its innocence, but the first time I visited, time seemed to have come to a complete standstill in Simena. Recently, though, and in spite of its limited access, this pastoral spot has succumbed to the onward march of commercialism. Still, there's nothing like a stroll through someone's chickens and a waterside meal of grilled fish caught hours earlier to wash away those capitalist blues. Although as an independent side trip it will take a little effort on your part to get to Simena (car to Üçagiz, boat to Simena [the modern village name is Kale]), the reward will be a magical setting far removed from the modern world. There are no roads, only worn dirt paths amid the cluster of modest houses that dot the hillside. Several fish restaurants line the jetties, with comparatively excellent feasts of the freshest fish and the best location from which to stare transfixed at the one solitary stone sarcophagus poking its Gothic cap out of the bay.
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.