Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Olüdeniz – Holiday Heaven or Holiday Hell?

Olüdeniz (Dead Sea in Turkish) on the Turquoise Coast of southern Turkey is billed as ‘one of the most beautiful beaches’, and ‘the most photogenic spot’ in the whole of the country. Indeed, before visiting the place, my guide book informed me that, ‘this wondrous place can be reached only by a precipitous mountain road’, thus conjuring up images of a perfect secluded beauty spot.

The reality is very different! The village of Olüdeniz is indeed accessed by a steep road, descending in long curves from the bustling, predominantly English resort town of Hisarönü (see separate posting), but it is hardly remote or difficult to get to. In season, a shuttle bus runs every few minutes from the aforementioned Hisarönü or the slightly further afield town of Fethiye, depositing thousands of sun-seekers and bathers at the entrance to Olüdeniz lagoon.

Before entering the lagoon area itself, you are bombarded with tacky souvenirs shops, as well as loads of hustlers trying to lure you on to one of the many daily cruise boats waiting to cast off. You have to pay an entrance fee to gain access to the ‘area of outstanding beauty’ and, once you’ve parted with your lira, you have quite a long walk along paved and decked walkways to the lagoon. Once there, you have to pay a not inconsiderable sum for the use of a sun-bed (extra if you want an umbrella), which will be very close to the sun-bed on either side, as well as the ones in front of and behind you! If you haven’t had the foresight to take your own refreshments, then the cost of food and drink during the day could well be a shock to the system! If, by the time you arrive, all of the available sun-beds around the lagoon have been taken, and you end up spending the day sunning yourself by the Mediterranean instead, then you will find actually getting in to the sea rather difficult! By the water’s edge there are lots of very slippery, green, slime-covered rocks which you have to negotiate in order to reach sea which you can swim in.

We visited in August and, despite the exquisite turquoise appearance of the water and the cloudless azure sky, the hordes of people present made it nigh on impossible to get a sense of it as ‘the most beautiful beach in Turkey’. It was noisy, incredibly crowded, litter-strewn, and generally unpleasant!

TOP TIP – if you are going to visit, do it out of season!!

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