• Kas

    Kas is 81km (50 miles) southeast of Fethiye; 229km (142 miles) southwest of Antalya; 25km (15 miles) east of Kalkan; 109km (68 miles) southeast of Dalaman Airport.

    At only 25km (15 miles) and 20 minutes apart, Kas and Kalkan share the same stunning coast of broken rocky coastline, so whether you base yourself in one or the other depends on your individual character and travel style (tours from one include pickups in the other). Kas established itself as the more popular of the two in the 1960s and 1970s, first as a “hippie” hangout and later, as another ideal stopping point for yachts and gulets on the Blue Voyage.

    The town met demand by transforming itself from a small fishing village into a resort town. Yet in spite of the ebbs and flows of tourism that have left many hotels in dire need of TLC, Kas still retains a certain small-town charm, with narrow cobblestone streets, incredible coastal views, and some of the most lovely and creative boutiques the Mediterranean has to offer. The town is built around the sparse remains of ancient Antiphellos, which left behind a few scattered rock tombs, a Greek theater, and an unanticipated monumental sarcophagus featuring four lions’ heads at the upper end of one of Kas’s narrow shopping streets.

    As the definition of a beach resort goes, Kas falls somewhat short. But what Kas lacks in proper beaches, it makes up for with rocky access to crystal-clear Mediterranean waters. Kas is also an optimal jumping-off point for trips to Kekova, Myra, and some of the regions’ best undiscovered mountain villages. The abundance of outdoorsy activities around Kas has also helped to maintain its reputation as a relaxed, satisfying, and generally inexpensive holiday destination.

    Attractions

    Kas is the center for sun-and-fun boat trips to the sunken cities around Kekova Island. The surrounding protected bays, islands, and bleached coral cliffs provide some of the best opportunities for visits to the archaeological sites of the XanthosValley, Myra, and Demre.

    Travel agencies hopefully grabbing a piece of the tourist pie line the marina and tout day excursions to the area attractions at very competitive rates. Prices range from 15Euro ($18) to 15GBP ($26) for day tours to Kekova (minimum six people).

    More established and eminently recommendable are Bougainville Travel and TopAvenue.

    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. They recently added mountain biking tours and canyoning excursions into the Salkikent 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 Kekova with Kekova Island at its epicenter offers a view into an unspoiled world of picturesque undeveloped fishing villages and mysterious archaeological sites that found their way into the sea. The most visible examples of a long-gone civilization lie along the northern coast of the island, submerged beneath transparent waters. Glass-bottom boats allow you to see fleeting details of buried amphoras or other artifacts, but the most impressive relics are the city walls and private homes visible just under 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 civilization these walls came from.

    In their haste to get on a boat, many people overlook √ú√ßagiz, 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). Visits tend to ignore the ancient site of Aperlae as well, located west of √ú√ßagiz 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” here, 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 √ú√ßagiz 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 — and getting — hefty amounts of cash for a day out: a small private boat (capacity around 12 people) costs around 410YTL ($300). Glass-bottom boat trips from U√ßagiz cost 40YTL ($30) to 50YTL ($36) per person. Plan to arrive in Kalek√∂y (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 Kalek√∂y, based on a half-day rental. If you’re planning on staying overnight, enlist your pension owner in getting transport over.
    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 Kalek√∂y for a hike up the hill to the medieval Byzantine fortress of the Knights of St. John (entrance 4YTL/$3) 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.

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