The Bodrum Peninsula is barely touched by the exploring feet of Barry and Julia. But 2016 was the year where we had the opportunity to do a bit of mooching around. Springtime is perfect travelling weather in western Turkey and staying at Ağan Pension in Bodrum centre for the Bodrum Global Run during that time, well we just had to make a long weekend of it so we could try and see a bit more of the Bodrum Peninsula. One of those days, we allocated to the town of Yalıkavak…
Yalıkavak, Bodrum Peninsula
That’s the beauty of a peninsula, isn’t it? Once you’re there, it’s easy to wander around the area and pack quite a lot into a small space of time. Despite growth at super speed, Bodrum itself is still relatively compact. And, for now at least, all the dolmuşes congregate in the city centre otogar. Get there and take your pick of destination.
We hadn’t done any research on Yalıkavak; this was just a day for a little aimless wander – getting a feel for the personality of, and the scenery around, the Bodrum Peninsula. We made a flying visit to Turgutreis a few years ago and now it was the turn of Yalıkavak; on our radar thanks to Jack Scott’s chuckle-filled memoir, Perking The Pansies. We wanted to see if we could recognise his former home from what we’d read in the book.
And thank goodness for small towns. No research meant we got off the dolmuş in Yalıkavak with no clue of where to head. A slight downhill slope through the town, though, told us that must be the way to the sea…and it was. Within 5 minutes, we were strolling along the very pleasant harbour of Yalıkavak and already feeling pleased with life. Ohh, yes, we liked it here!
Traditional Charm Of Yalıkavak
There’s a lot going on in Yalıkavak – there’s a lot going on around the whole Bodrum peninsula for that matter – and it’s certainly no sleepy town on an Aegean peninsula. No, Yalıkavak is now home to a huge swanky marina – Palmarina Bodrum – but we’ll come to that a bit later. You see, we’re suckers for Aegean harbour towns with a bit of history and a good dose of quaint surroundings…and Yalıkavak still manages to do that, too…and it does it very well.
If you read up on the whole area of Yalıkavak, there are great beaches and bays, traditional villages in the hills, luxury all inclusive hotels, boutique hotels, hidden coves…but we were there for just a few hours, having a nosy around. In years gone by, Yalıkavak was a centre for sponge diving and fishing. No immediate evidence of the sponge diving history but any Aegean area with a fishing history usually treats you with a pretty seafood scene.
Ahh, how can you not smile to yourself and feel happy inside when you see low, stone buildings lining a harbour packed with small fishing boats; simple gingham tablecloths adorning the tables. Most of these stone buildings are now Yalıkavak restaurants; rows of tables waiting for hungry customers. Many are serving Turkish breakfast. Most are serving a range of seafood, and, for a town that is supposed to one of the Bodrum peninsula’s elites, prices are very reasonable.
Remember, it was springtime when we were there, so whether or not the prices increase when the summer season kicks in, we’re unsure, but in April, we have a smattering of restaurants that, by lunchtime, have a good number of local customers all tucking into their various seafood dishes. Many of them are washing that lunchtime seafood down with a rakı or a beer, too. Did we mention we like it here…
Drinking & Wandering
We’d had our own quick seafood lunch at Duru Balık in the centre of Bodrum before we headed off for Yalıkavak so we were, unfortunately, too full to partake in all this leisurely harbourside dining. That didn’t stop us having a little drink though; a pause to take all in and watch the world go by for a short time. Then it was time for a little wander.
There might be a lot of building going on in Yalıkavak but all is low rise – those oh-so-recognisable Bodrum peninsula white-washed cuboid dwellings that grace so many postcards from the area. Yeah, give us a bit of natural countryside anytime, but at least we’ve not got huge tower blocks here. The public beach in Yalıkavak, close to the harbour, is a lovely sight.
Again, summer might be a different story but we love us an empty beach. And, well we live in Fethiye. We’ve got a lot of pebble and shingle going on on the beaches of our little area, which we do enjoy, it has to be said (sand is irritating when it sticks all over you). But, in springtime, a mixture of sand and fine shingle underfoot in Yalıkavak was much appreciated for a change. It’s little things like that that remind you you’re away from home, somewhere new…
…As do the famous Bodrum windmills. Yalıkavak has its own share of windmills, too. The town is on the northwest side of the peninsula, exposed to the Aegean breezes so was an ideal location for the windmills to do their bit, supplying the local population with flour.
The windmill in the photo is a restored version, placed on the harbour as a symbol of the area, for all to see. Apparently, the remaining windmills in their original locations are all being restored because someone, in their wisdom, has realised that people like us might actually want to visit them and enjoy them rather than watch them decay and crumble away. Lovely!
Behind the harbour buildings, we ambled along a pedestrianised street shaded by trees; each side lined with souvenir shops. There were already a few people around buying up goodies to take back home with them but we didn’t stay long around here. We were only here for a little mooch and we couldn’t put it off any longer. It was time to leave historic and quaint behind and go and check out the modern and the dynamic…
Palmarina – Ultra-Modern Yalıkavak
Because Yalıkavak is now home to Palmarina Bodrum; a huge swanky marina that, since its multi-million pound buy out and extension throughout 2012 and 2013, is apparently the only marina in Turkey that can accommodate such a large capacity of mega yachts and giga yachts for docking and mooring. 69 boats of 40 metres and above, according to the Palmarina website, as well as your more usual sized yachts…
Anyway, our knowledge of yachts starts and ends at yacht, super yacht, mega yacht. We can only assume that a giga yacht is the daddy. Yachts, for us, are those things you look at in marinas or out at sea and either admire the aesthetics or wonder what on earth possessed someone with lots of money to want to buy it.
But back to Palmarina. When we eventually found the entrance, we were in a glossy arcade of designer stores and huge floor-to-ceiling windows. We walked out onto the waterside and followed the palm-lined walkway; yachts (of their various classifications) on one side of us and more designer stores and a cafe to the other.
The large waterside cafe was packed. With locals or with people visiting from the yachts? Who knows? But it certainly wasn’t deserted. As well as its array of national and international designer stores, Palmarina has hotel accommodation, night life, health centre, events…
If there’s a marina around, we do love to have a bit of a wander to take some photos but when you’re not a part of the boating fraternity, to novice eyes (sorry yacht people), all of these vessels kind of start looking the same. Now, a boat yard packed with gülets under construction and repair – like the one I lost myself in, in Bodrum’s İçmeler – ahh, now we’re talking. Fascinating places!
We explored a tiny stretch of coast in Yalıkavak when we were there – history and modernity sat, literally, side by side. Two little worlds coexisting. We loved Yalıkavak and are definitely looking forward to more explorations around there in the future. Think the Bodrum peninsula started to weave its magical web around us when we were there in spring and we know we’ll be back again soon. Well, there’s Yalıkavak windmills and villages to explore, isn’t there…
Book a few nights in Yalıkavak through Booking.com