Day Trips by Boat
Lining the wharves of most medium- to large-size towns are private captains touting day trips through neighboring waters. A typical excursion tools along the coastline to the south to Turunç, Umlu, Cadirgan, and Çiftlik bays, and to Cleopatra's (Sedir) Island, made famous for the pearly white sands the exotic queen had shipped over from Egypt. Day-boat excursions also leave from Bozburun and Datça, past scenery more beautiful than the last, where you can swim, snorkel, or just plain snooze, all for about 25TL to 30TL, depending on how well you bargain, lunch included. A second itinerary out of Marmaris heads a little farther out into the Mediterranean to Dalyan, where, at Iztuzu Beach, you'll switch from your gulet to a motorized fishing boat for the classic tour up the Dalyan River, including a stop at Kaunos and the mud baths. Prices for this trip are a little higher, at about 35TL per person.
Certified divers with their own boats, easily spotted by the rack of wet suits and diving equipment onboard, line the wharf near Iskele Meydani. Diving expeditions leave early in the morning; for any day-boat trip, it's important to reserve at least the evening before. Cost of a day out is about £40 including equipment, insurance, guides, and lunch. You can also plan ahead by contacting one of the reputable dive centers: Divers Delight, run by two guys: an ex-Turkish Navy Seal and a long-time dive instructor (in Içmeler Kayabal Cad. 63; tel. 0252/455-3885; www.diversdelight.com), offers 1-day "Try-A-Dive" trips, in addition to their full complement of PADI courses.
Marmaris is also a convenient jumping-off point for fun and active pursuits. Alternatif Turizm (Camlik Sok. 10/1, Marmaris; tel. 0252/417-2720; www.alternatifraft.com) was the first outfitter to turn the local rivers into water-bound roller coasters. They run day kayaking trips (on demand, Apr-Oct) for a minimum of 4 people to the most scenic spots in the area. Choose from a list of pioneering day paddling trips past the castles of Selimiye, along the idyllic Akyaka Delta, around the bays of Göcek or up the Dalyan River. You may also want to ride the Dalaman rapids before the new hydroelectric dam transforms the rumbling river basin into sleepy reservoir. (Watersports enthusiasts should check with the outfitter to see if the rafting trips are running further upstream.) You'll pay 100TL per person for these tours, including all transfers and professional river guides. Check their website for their other adventure tours such as mountain biking expeditions, ski tours, and canyoning excursions.
Exploring Datça & Knidos
Remote enough to weed out the riffraff, but easily accessible via ferryboat from Bodrum, Datça and its rugged surroundings are historic, peaceful, and most of all, unspoiled. The western tip of the peninsula is where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Aegean, and you can swim in both on the same day, or even simultaneously. The stunning coves of Palmut Bükü, Mesudiye, Domuzçukuru, Akvaryum, and Kargi boast some of the cleanest water in the Mediterranean, and with a 33% presence of oxygen in the air and a perfect Mediterranean climate, the elements combine to support the legendary longevity of the residents of Datça.
The proximity to the Greek islands of Rhodes and Simi can only suggest the richness of the Dorian civilization that was once here, but a look at the ancient ruins of Knidos, whose terraced promontory rises above the site's dual harbors, certainly gives us a clue. Admission to the site is 8TL. Excursion boats leave daily in season from Datça harbor to Knidos, making stops at a number of the more scenic coves along the way. By car, the road west of Datça is essentially a bumpy dirt path that leads to Knidos; the terrain is rugged and takes about 45 minutes.
The lovely port village of Datça is the center of activity at this end of the peninsula, in fact, Datça is the site of the original ancient city of Knidos, which moved to its current "new" position at the extreme western point of the peninsula in about 360 B.C. More recent settlements are the villages of Eski Datça and Resadiye, located along the road between Datça and Körmen (the ferry landing about 6.5km/4 miles to the north). Eski, or Old Datça, is a landlocked village straight out of the storybooks, a minuscule cluster of old stone houses, carved doorways, and cobbled lanes dating back to when this was a Greek town. One or two coffeehouses and a pension or two hidden behind sandy stone walls add to an already thoroughly charming visit. The village of Resadiye exhibits some traditionally Turkish architecture and is worth a walk-through as well.
The recently paved road west of Datça makes a visit to the historic promontory a must, either as an excursion from Bodrum (via car ferry) or as a meandering day trip, past some of the region's most pristine bays, from Marmaris. You may want to consider arriving by boat (full-day excursions leave from Datça town daily around 9am, the cost is around 25€ per person, depending on where the boat takes you) to make the most of the peninsula's coastal wonders.
Where to Stay & Dine -- In spite of the presence of a number of holiday resorts, the pace of this end of Mediterranean Turkey promotes a more intimate, relaxed style of lodging. Charming and tranquil hardly describes the Dede Garden Hotel (tel./fax 0252/712-3951; www.dedegardenhotel.com), a quiet and flowering retreat in the heart of Eski Datça. The pension is actually a renovated Greek house, complete with a swimming pool, snack bar, and a mere six rooms. Each room is faithfully decorated according to its namesake: The Chaplin room is full of movie-related objects, the Theatre room displays masks and such, and the Chagall room contains reproductions of the famous artist's works. This is a true and unencumbered retreat. All rooms have air-conditioning and self-catering kitchens. Doubles cost 100€ June through September, and 75€ from October through May.
About .8km (1/2 mile) outside of Datça town is the Marphe Hotel, Onuncu Cad. 34 (tel. 0252/712-9030; fax 0252/712-9172; www.hotelmarphe.com), set up like a Greek village, and constructed of whitewashed and natural stone. The Marphe consists of seven apartments (bedroom, living room, full kitchen, and balcony), 14 suites, and 12 villas (two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, full kitchen, two balconies, and a terrace on a huge garden property in the countryside). Prices for two in a suite are 90€ in July and August or 75€ in low season, including breakfast. The new whitewashed Mediterranean duplex villas rent by the week and cost from 900€-1,000€. The Mehmet Ali Aga Konagi, known locally as the Koca Ev or "the big house" (Resadiye Mah. Kavak Meydani, Datça; tel. 0252/712-9257; www.kocaev.com), can best be described as a living museum -- an old Ottoman mansion owned by an aristocratic landowner prominent in Datça affairs. Ornamental archways, enamel ceilings, and antique English, French, and Viennese furniture offer a glimpse into the opulent living of the wealthy Ottoman class, and you and I now get to benefit, too. There are a scant 12 rooms, three of which are located in stone annexes. Facilities include a private beach (off-grounds), swimming pool, restaurant, and wine cave. Rates are not cheap and are listed at between 170€ and 530€ for May through October (closed in winter).
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.