Wonderland: Blue Lagoon (Ölüdeniz)
The village and the beach by the lagoon was locally known as Belcekız or Belceğiz before the area became a magnet for mass tourism, although today many people in the area have no idea about what Belcekız is and the town as well as the lagoon are both known as Ölüdeniz, which literally means “dead sea” and originally referred only to the lagoon itself.
Inland to the north, 2 km to Ölüdeniz, are the former villages of Ovacık and Hisarönü, with occasional family-run guesthouses only a decade ago, but are today concrete sprawls of hotels and bars, agglomerated almost without a gap with the town of Ölüdeniz. Both serve as “bedroom communities” that offer accommodation that is close to but cheaper than Ölüdeniz proper.
During the peak season in May to October, Ölüdeniz is filled with British tourists. It is a popular vacation destination for British citizens of whom many own homes there, so you wont even feel like you’re in Turkey. To get more of an authentic Turkish experience a stay in Fethyie is recommended, but even Fethyie has many British citizens during the peak season.
Blue Lagoon (Ölüdeniz). Access to the beach is shut by the evening, around 6PM. Known in Turkish literally as “dead sea” because of the stillness of the water, the lagoon is a nature preserve. To enter the park there is a fee of 5 TL per person. You will also likely have to hire a beach chair which are an additional 6 TL each (5 TL for an umbrella). 5 TL.
Paragliding. A number of companies in Ölüdeniz offer paragliding opportunities from the summit of nearby Mt. Babadağ, about 1,900 mt from the sea elevation. A “trip” from the top to the beach takes around an hour and offers stunning views of the Blue Lagoon and the valleys and mountains covered with pine forests around. Training and tandem flights are also possible for those unexperienced at paragliding.
One thing to do while in Oludeniz is to get on the dolmus and go to the market in Fethiye on a Tuesday. There is absolutely everything there (including a lot of fakes). It is a very busy market not only used by holiday makers but by Turks buying their produce. Go to the fish stalls, buy some fresh fish and then go to one of the nearby restaurants where for a few TL will cook it for you.
There are several people along the beach that offer rental of a small motor boat for a few hours. This is a great way to explore the small coves and beaches around the area without having to join one of the larger tour boats that go on a predetermined route. The prices are around 300 TL, expect to pay in cash.
There are many different restaurants to choose from, as with anywhere some are better than others. Fresh fish is a favourite which can be found especially in the restaurants on the beach front. One of the longest established restaurants is ‘Josephs’ (the man in the hat), who always makes everybody welcome and the food is always excellent – try Turkish food though their ‘pide’ along with various other Turkish choices are wonderful.
On the front ‘Buzz Beach’ bar is always popular and is generally busy all day and evening (which says something).
Generally you will not be dissapointed with any of the food, almost without exception all the restaurants will make you feel very welcome.
One of the best sights in Oludeniz is sitting at the front in the evening as the sun is going down over the mountain watching the last of the paragliders coming into land. Its fantastic and the sun sets are second to none. ‘Crusoes’ and ‘Buzz Beach Bar’ are two of the best to do this.
Oludeniz gets busy during the high season, but by around midnight and no later than 2AM the bars are closed. If you wish to party or carry on drinking then you need to go to Hisaronu (about 10 minutes up the mountain in a dolmus), where the bars stay open a lot later.
Butterfly Valley (Faralya) is a remote canyon to the south, on the sea-shore, with some rare butterflies and waterfalls. Boats and minibuses head there from Ölüdeniz. A little further south, at the end of the road is the village of Kabak, which has a canyon similar to Butterfly Valley, although a little easier to access.
For a bit of history and a deserted ghost town experience in your trip, take the road to west from Hisarönü and head to Kayaköy, where hundreds of partially ruined houses cover the side of a hill.
Ovacık to the north of Ölüdeniz marks the official beginning of Lycian Way, a 500+ km hiking trail leading to Antalya in the east.