“God sends his subjects to whom he wants to give long and healthy lives to Datça…” Strabon of Cappadocia (56BC – 21AD). Having spent a week on this green and mountainous peninsula in South West Turkey I can see where old Strabon was coming from. The air is still and silent, the sea crystal clear and the pine and herb scented vegetation seems to make you breathe easier. If ever there was setting for good health this little South Eastern corner of Turkey might well be it.
If you had told me this at Dalaman airport, I don't think I would have believed you. I have never seen one airport so full of (mainly British) package holiday makers bundling in their hundreds and thousands off flights and on to packed buses bound for Marmaris and Olu Deniz - large resort towns in the area promising Full English Breakfasts, booze cruises and water parks to keep you amused. Honestly, I was a little worried but we managed to manoever our way past the crowds to find our little Fiat rent-a-car and before we knew it we were on our 2 hour drive to the Dacta peninsula.
The scenery was spectacular. And big. The mountains, the sky, the whole horizon was just majestic - comparable with the big American vistas I've driven through in Colorado and Utah. Thankfully the road was almost as good too. We drove through a storm, through sleepy little towns and past several mosques, their domes glistening and finally made a half way stop at the delightful coastal town of Akyaka. Known for its slow pace of life and excellent food we made a bee line for a little restaurant we had seen recommended and demolished beautiful fresh Turkish bread and grilled meats along with a Turkish Pizza (Pide) all for the price of a Pret lunch for one. On the way back to the main road we dropped in at a delightful little cafe by the river called Mocca which serves strong coffee and turkish delight in colourful surroundings under the shade of trees. I would have been perfectly happy to sit there all day but we still had half the journey to go before we got to the Dacta peninsula.
We by passed Marmaris and with that the road veered off into the mountains through and became much, much more rural. The Dacta peninsula is protected by very strict conservation laws meaning that it has been left very much as it always was before mass tourism hit the rest of the coast. There is a ban on high rise hotels and the small villages that do exist attract just a smattering of mainly Turkish tourists. The main sources of income are still agriculture, fishing and gullet boat building. Half an hour beyond Mamaris, a world a way and we finally arrived at our first destination, the D Hotel Maris.
Being someone who prefers small boutiquey hotels near some sort of action or cultural attraction I was slightly dubious about this hotel. In the middle of a nature reserve, the nearest village was a 15 minute drive and the winding driveway to the hotel 5km alone, there was nothing else to do but revel in nature, and I have to say that is the beauty of it. The hotel has an absolute feel of serentity to it from the modern, minimalist design to the sweeping views across the bay. 5 days flew by and most of them I just lay there in awe of the incredible view from the terraces of the hotel or one of the several beaches that lay around it. We sampled delicious Turkish food (who knew one man could eat that much Babaganoush), swam in the crystal sea and slept alot. All in all for a lazy pregnant woman it couldn't have been more perfect!
Following those few days of pure indulgence we ventured an hour further down the Peninsula narrowly missing a tortoise crossing the road (this is slow paced Turkey at its best!) to the fishing village of Selimiye. Selimiye is a little gem. It has been touted by Conde Nast Traveller as being the next place to go in Turkey and many say it remains as Kalkan or Kas were 30 years ago. For now it retains a real sleepy charm. Visited by a few low key yaughts and a few savvy Istanbulites, the elegant little boardwalk is fringed with tiny white and blue cafes and restaurants. We stopped by Osmans Place to be greeted by Osman himself - with a full set of gold teeth, he gave us an enormous grin and welcomed us to his Village before falling back to sleep in his hammock. Further on we sampled some of the best Calamari we've ever had at Sardunya, sweet treats at Paprika and marvelled at simple but beautiful interiors at one nameless cafe at the far end of the marina.
We managed to prize ourself away to get to our last hotel, the Karia Bel situated 10 minutes on from Selimiye near the town of Bozborun. We drove past the somewhat earie skeletons of half buiilt gullets which lined the road to the port where we were whisked off by boat to the little boutique hotel (you can't drive there!) Based around a simple wooden jetty covered in geraniums and sunloungers, this rustic little hotel couldn't do enough for us. Turkish afternoon tea was served at 5pm to my delight before we lazily watched the sunset from our little balcony over the water. Sitting on the decking under the stars for dinner really topped it off. For a last peaceful holiday before life changes dramatically we couldn't have asked for anything better. Turkish delights indeed.
D Hotel, Dacta
Karia Bel, Bozborun
Selimiye - try anything there you won't go wrong!
Halil In Yeri, Akyaka
The Dacta Holiday Wardrobe!