Southern Excursion: Turunç

Waking to the smell of jasmine growing outside my window and having a chorus of birds coax me out of bed, I feel welcomed into the day. From the balcony, I see hills covered in green, blue skies and a jungle of plant life growing all around me. This is Turunç. A place that radiates natural beauty and where the sea is your neighbor. Before the summer season hits, now is a good time to go south and visit this small seaside haven. Nestled amongst the Tarus Mountains that stretch along the Bozburun Peninsula and only 30 minutes from Marmaris, Turunç is a quiet and charming retreat on the Mediterranean Sea. Here you can relax, experience and explore a natural wonderland. Trees of olive, palm, orange and muşmula (mushmulah, a.k.a medlar) my newest discovery, a small orangish fruit resembling an apricot and tasting similar to a plum but with golden seeds (yes, golden!) Buildings are no taller than five stories, there are two main streets in the whole village and the most dominant sounds you will hear are birds, wind and waves.  I’ve seen more goats and chickens than people here during my stay.

Getting There: Dalaman Airport to Marmaris. From Marmaris you can take a bus for 4 lira, a dolmuş for 9 lira, a taxi or a boat. After riding along a very bumpy and winding road, you’ll coast downhill with the sea stretched out before you, welcoming you with open arms. Overall, the journey should take around two hours from the airport to Turunç.

Where To Stay: Most hotels are centrally located and near the sea. Many hotels include a pool, bar and restaurant, making your stay even more relaxing. Turunç Dream Hotel is in the hub of the shopping area and close to the sea for a cool 187 lira per night. Otel Diplomat is right on the beach so you can practically dive right into the water from your balcony. One night here will set you back around 270-290 lira. Şen Apart is a good deal at around 127 lira per night (it’s an actual apartment) if you’re planning to stay for a while. Looking to spend top dollar? Book a room at the upscale Turunç Hotel located in a quiet nook of its own with a seaside pool and your own private dolphin (joking) for around 500 lira per night.

What To Do: Visit Amos Antik Kenti (ancient city). Head out early before it heats up and go explore the ancient Carian ruins of Amos. Located on Asarcık Hill overlooking the sea, this city was built during the Hellenistic Period. Part of the experience is the walk to the ancient city so encourage yourself to go on foot rather than by car. Seeing the city walls slowly come into view from a distance makes it all the more exciting. Heck, you can even pretend you’re a Carian heading to the temple from the fields below. Amos is only 2 km away, so the walk can take 30-45 minutes depending on your pace. Keep your eyes peeled for road side treasure. I was lucky enough to find a giant porcupine quill and crystals. Yes, magic is everywhere here. What remains in Amos are vestiges of a sanctuary, a temple (pedestals), cistern, amphitheater and sarcophagi along the downward slope. There is a trail you can follow leading to marked sites and one that also takes you out near the end of the cliff giving you a full spectrum view of the surrounding area. Amazing. Even more amazing is the fact that only one known professor did any kind of excavation here – so just imagine what really lies beneath the soil. Though the city is at rest, there is plenty of life roaming the area – so chances are you might run into lizards, turtles or snakes.

Turunç
A view of modern Amos from ancient Amos

Just down the hill from Amos lies the small village of Kumlubük, a.k.a ‘’Sandy Bay’’. Less developed compared to Turunç, Kumlubük has largely remained green, for now. There are a few hotels, restaurants and a long, sandy beach. Many of the large villas near the shore are abandoned, making it feel like something of a ghost town. It’s a great place to take a dip. The water is super clean and crystal clear. You can walk out pretty far before it gets deep. After a good swim, you’ll be recharged for that long walk back to Turunç. There is also the option of taking a minibus, or you can grab a taxi.

Swim! There is only one beach in Turunç and it’s all you need. There’s plenty of sea to go around. The turquoise waters will wash you clean and remind you to breathe. Float yourself over an underwater world full of wonders. All restaurants and hotels along the shore offer comfortable lounge chairs with umbrellas to shade you from the heat (provided you order something).

Shop at the local market: Every Monday there is a pazar, where you can pick up fresh locally sourced produce for a seaside picnic. It’s best to get there before 15:00 when people start packing up, although I’m certain hours will extend once the season picks up. There are also a fair number of souvenir shops to browse.

Take a boat tour: Most tours operate daily and offer half-day and full-day tours. Cruise around the turquoise sea, snorkel, sunbathe and dance your heart out on deck. Musti’s and Turunc Sunshine Boat are just two of the many tour services around. You’re looking to spend around 30-50 lira for a tour and most include a BBQ. There are also evening tours, which last from around 20:30pm to midnight.

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from and many host a lovely terrace or garden for outdoor dining. Sea side is the best side, so you can listen to the waves and let your troubles wash away. So get ahead of the masses and make Turunç your next destination. Escape. Breathe. The sea is calling. Go to her.

All photos by Marga Patterson.

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Marga Patterson
Turkish at heart, lover of nature and adventure. Always ready to explore the hidden treasures of Istanbul. Drawing and writing keeps her alive and well. You can check out more of her work here: http://margapatterson.com/

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