HEAVEN ON EARTH
Article for Glober Magazine of Atlas Global Airlines, September 2019.
With its unrivalled bays, pristine, blue waters, and ancient ruins, the pearl of the Mediterranean, Kaş, may be an essential summer location, but its beauty shines in a new light over September.
I first came to Kaş as a child, when we would take a trip down to the resort town every summer. Those days, Kaş was a quiet holiday village that still retained a unique flavour of its own, a welcoming and cosy place, with its cobbled streets, chatting over tea with the friendly cafe owners in the main street, carefully climbing down the steep rockfaces down to the sea, and staying in small hotels decorated with the leaves of bergonvillae. The unmatched beauty of its bays and underwater cities that could be gleaned from the glass-bottomed boats, in particular, made Kaş an unforgettable place in my mind.
Coming back to Kaş today, the town is no longer the little holiday village of tea gardens, a couple of famous bars, bergonvillae-shrouded buildings, and a tight-knit community of neighbours. But still, the place has been able to accommodate greater droves of tourists without sacrificing its charm.
The Sea and History
Kaş presides over an enchanting landscape replete with bays whose waters are as clear as an aquarium, overlooked by steep cliffs, and dotted with islands of all shapes and sizes. You can dip into the water at almost every location and it is its beaches which have transformed Kaş into one of Turkey’s biggest tourism havens.
The top places to enjoy a swim in central Kaş include Büyük Çakıl and Küçük Çakıl beaches. Another option is Limanağzı Bay. The bay accessible by boat from the centre also has a number of humble places to visit. Bilal’s Place is ideal for its crystal-clear waters, but you may prefer Nuri’s Beach, with its Lycian stone tombs within a short walking distance. There are a number of premises that display Kaş’ former simple charm, with shaded cafes ready for when you are tired of sunbathing offering coffee and a number of home-made dishes. Kaputaş beach is one of Turkey’s best beaches, located on the scenic route between Kaş and Kalkan. The golden sands of this essential Kaş stop-off leaves all visitors suitably charmed and the way the foamy tide washes up on the shore is like something straight out of a summer landscape scene.
As the centre of the maritime civilisation founded by the Lycians, Kaş is a veritable treasure trove for history buffs. Whilst wandering down the Uzun Çarşı main street, with its boutiques and old stone houses wrapped in begonvillae, one comes across a stunning, three-metre-high tomb decorated in lion head motifs, which has stood for thousands of years. Next to the town centre stands the ancient city of Antiphellos, with one of Anatolia’s only ancient amphitheatres to face outward toward the sea. Catching the sunset here is nothing short of enchanting. Another spot here worth visiting for a sumptuous view is the Déjà vu Bar. Looking out over the island of Meis sat across the water, the boats lining the harbour, and the sun as it disappears behind the waves, is one of my favourite activities in Kaş.
Kaş’ charms are not limited to those sites within its limits or just off its shores. There is still yet another world to discover below its waters. Kaş is a favourite for divers, thanks to its marine life, coral reefs, underwater canyons, and a variety of underwater life and a number of places offer diving courses and tours. If you have no experience in diving, a discovery tour might be preferable. Those who wish to explore the underwater world can expect to tour through Kanyon, Güvercin, and Besmi Island. Every trip you make to Kaş’ surrounding region is one overflowing with unique natural and historical wonders. The boat tours to Kekova cover some enchanting scenery, the boats set off from Üçağız and pass through the ancient city of Dolkisthe, the Sunken City which plunged beneath the waves as a result of a series of large earthquakes, the ancient Lycian city of Simena (Kaleköy), and the Tersane and Aquarium bays, which are ripe for taking a swim.
If you have time, you ought to visit Patara, the former Lycian capital, with its ancient theatre, agora, and beach, as well as the UNESCO-protected city of Xanthos, with its Lycian headstones and stone cemetery. Also keep the ancient city of Myra on your to-do list with its beautiful acropolis, ancient tombs, theatre, and stone engraved figures, as well as the port of Andriake.
The Greek island of Meis, with its 1800 metre stretch of coastline, can almost be considered a part of Kaş. The island can be visited after just a 20-minute boat-ride. According To legend, the first person to write of Kaş was Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi. As explained in Orhan Duru’s work, Blue Journey, the name Kaş (or “eyebrow” in Turkish) is drawn from Evliya Çelebi’s description of the way the entire area curves around the sea in a great arch. The island of Meis, lying two kilometres from the shore, is very much the eye below the brow of this metaphor.
In Search of Food
Kaş presides over leisures to suit all tastes. With a breakfast accompanied by the twitter of morning birds at Mutfak, fish and mezes at Kaş’ famous Ruhi Bey Meyhanesi, delicious fried meat dishes in the Zaika garden, and, after dinner, an ice cream and dried fig dessert, amazing cocktails in the Pell’s courtyard, culinary joy is guaranteed.