590km (367 miles) west of Antalya; 165km (103 miles) southeast of Bodrum; 900km (559 miles) south of Istanbul; 185km (115 miles) southwest of Pamukkale; 120km (75 miles) northwest of Dalaman

The Province of Marmaris offers a stunning landscape of pine-covered peaks, isolated bays and inlets, secluded beaches, and a steady expanse of Mediterranean paradise, some of it accessible only by sea. The relative inaccessibility of Marmaris's westernmost points is probably the main reason why this corner of the Turkish Mediterranean has managed to fend off (for the most part) the scourge of overdevelopment, leaving the landscape still pleasingly rugged and rustic. The region is thankfully, also protected, including the offshore islands and sea, preserving one of Turkey's richest areas for wild flora and fauna. If it's an off-the-beaten-track excursion that you're looking for, explore the sea/land route between Bodrum and Marmaris along the winding mountain roads of the Datça or Bozburun Peninsulas, stopping for overnights in one the remote and magical villages such as Selimiye, Turunç, and Gökova, if forced to name just a few. About 81km (50 miles) west across a wilderness of forested mountain ranges (a little over an hour by car from Marmaris) is the oft-overlooked seaside town of Datça, the old Greek inland village of Eski, or Old Datça, and farther west along a slow-going road toward the tip of the peninsula, the ancient city of Knidos. (The road west from Marmaris is in neglect, and west of Datça town it's almost nonexistent. So, if traveling by land, you may want to tackle the region of Marmaris separately from the region around Datça town -- reached via ferryboat from Bodrum in under 2 hours.)

The region's ambassador is the bustling seaside resort city of Marmaris, which, in its earliest tourist days, was probably quite becoming. The city's location midway between the heavy-hitting resorts of Bodrum and Fethiye, combined with the ease with which mass tourism from the U.K. can fly in and out of Dalaman Airport for a weekend, has made the city of Marmaris more of a necessary (and evil) way station for clients of the Blue Cruise and for the yachting set. Today, Marmaris can best be characterized by seedy-looking signage and fast-food stands advertising baked potatoes to a high concentration of low-budget English tourists lazing about on the bleak public beach. It's no wonder that tour operators of Blue Cruises bypass the town altogether and provide transfers from Dalaman Airport directly to the marina (some even avoid Marmaris altogether, sending clientele to Göcek). Hang the official who let this happen, I say, and all the cheap-package tourists who have made Marmaris what it is, or rather, isn't, today. Still, there are redeeming elements, such as the lovely Netsel Marina, the old Ottoman Castle and the fact that it takes only about 2km (1 1/4 miles) to emerge into a sunkissed, Mediterranean paradise.