'Kaş' Heaven on the earthly south coast
Just when you are about to abandon all hope of reaching your destination, the bus climbs a last incline, turns a corner or two and laid out before you is a view that makes you forget every last torturous bend of the past three hours. Your body will immediately sag with calm yet remain upright to take in the islands, the sea and the twinkling lights of the village as the sun sets in the distance. Alternatively, approach from Fethiye and weave around the turquoise waters crashing into the mountains that drop into the sea. Stop for a quick dip at Kaputaş beach and feel the cold water bring you back to life. Take the 200 or so steps back up to the road to savor the cool of your swim before continuing the last few kilometers to the "eyebrow" of Turkey's south coast.
Many people arrive in Kaş for a day and stay for a week. It is the perfect place to go and recharge your batteries, do some serious walking and hiking, try diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking and then when you thought you had done it all, float down from the mountain on the parasail built for two! Only 27 kilometers from the heavily holidayed and somewhat British Kalkan, Kaş has somehow retained most of its local spirit and personality. And whilst building has changed the landscape both in town and along the peninsula significantly in the past five years, the center of town remains pretty much untouched.
Teagardens line the main square in front of the very picturesque harbor and before you know it you will be sitting drinking tea, reading the paper and seeming like a local. In all likelihood you will be so relaxed that you will walk right by the fourth century Lycian tomb known as the King's Mausoleum that sits at the top of Uzun Çarşı, the quaintly cobble-stoned street that is lined with shops selling all sorts of quality products from luxurious bath towels and soaps to individually designed ceramics and jewelry.
Kaş has been known as both Habesos and Antiphellos in ancient times. As a trading port, Alexander the Great and then the Seleucids and Ptolemies ruled Kaş. The amphitheater that sits a short walk to the west of the town is the only open-air theater in Anatolia that faces the sea. From its rafters you can see the Greek island of Meis (Kastellorizo), just a short 40-minute boat ride away. A little further away and approached mainly by boat is the small village of Kekova that sits on the ancient site of Simena. Sailing through the sheltered sea, the remains of the Lycian city's buildings can be seen sinking into the waters then rising again across the way. The area is littered with sarcophagi and rock tombs and up a steep climb sits the remains of the castle and theater.
Kaş does not have a large natural beach as it is built on rocks, but swimming platforms have been built into the rock several meters above sea level. Küçük Çakıl (Small Pebble) beach sits between these man-made bathing stations while Büyük Çakıl (Big Pebble) beach, in a larger sheltered bay is a short drive eastwards along the shore and over a hill. Both beaches offer lounges and umbrellas in exchange for purchasing a drink or two, maybe lunch or a snack. After warming under the sun's rays, it is custom to plunge into the sea, often freezing on a hot summer's day. Mountain springs flow directly into the sea at several points along this swimming stretch and the cold water sits on top shimmering like a thousand splinters of ice. Liman Ağazı can be reached by a very short boat ride across the bay and here, the water is warmer and the shore a little sandy.
Whilst the heat of summer attracts sun fiends and water lovers, the cooler weather attracts ramblers. Kaş features as part of the Lycian trail, a 500-kilometer-walking track along the Mediterranean coast from Fethiye to Antalya that was opened in 1999. Smaller treks in and around Kaş are offered by travel agents within the town along with a range of water-based activities.
GETTING TO KAŞ
All the main airlines fly to either Dalaman or Antalya although there are generally more options to Antalya. The airport bus (Havaş) offers a service from Dalaman to Fethiye where a local bus will take you the rest of the way (three hours total, cost approx. YTL 30). From Antalya Airport, the shuttle takes you through town to the main bus station to transfer to the local bus (sometimes up to four or four-and-a-half hours total; approx. cost YTL 35-40). A quicker way to get to Kaş from the airport is with a private transfer that most hotels will arrange in advance (two hours from Dalaman; approx. cost YTL 120 or three from Antalya; approx. cost YTL 150). It is possible to rent a car at both airports.
WHERE TO STAY
Kaş offers a range of accommodation from the new boutique Gardenia Hotel to the more economical Nur Beach Hotel. Apartments and villas are also available for rent.
Küçük Çakıl Mah. No. 47
Tel.: (242) 836 1618/2368
This is probably the newest and most upscale option in Kaş. It does not have a pool, but the beach is right across the road. No children under 13 years.
Nur Beach Hotel
Küçük Çakıl Mah. No.45
Tel.: (242) 836 1828
www.nurbeachhotel.com, [email protected]
This is a simple hotel with clean premises. The Web site is in Turkish but an email in English will get a response.
For villa, apartment and other hotel information
Tel.: 532 431 6378
Tevfik speaks fluent English and has an office across from the Noel Baba (Father Christmas) tea gardens in the main square.
WHERE TO EAT
There are lots of cafes and restaurants along the foreshore and tucked in the back streets.
İlkokul Mah. No. 31
Tel.: (242) 836 2370
Another family-run restaurant that has been serving locals and tourists alike for 15 years specializes in meze (appetizers) as well favorites such as Anatolian kebab and it's famous kağıtlı balık (fish in paper).
Uzun Çarşı, Gürsoy Sok. No. 6
Tel.: (242) 836 2834
This small family-run restaurant has mom preparing and cooking food all day long. Open both in the summer and the winter, they specialize in home-style dishes including mantı (Turkish ravioli), barbunya (red beans) and su böreği (pastry with cheese and parsley).
Çukurbağlı Cad. Bahçe Sok. No. 1
Tel.: (242) 836 2222
On the same street as the post office just as the walkway turns into a road is a corner spot that draws businessmen from the surroundings in for lunch. Food is prepared fresh every day and ready for service from 11 a.m. onwards. Their fare is typical Turkish with pide (Turkish-style pizza). Prices are very reasonable and coffee and tea is complimentary in the evening after a meal.
Midtown Café Bistro
İlkokul Sok. No. 3
Tel.: (242) 836 4384
If you are looking for a bit of a change and feel like a burger, plate of pasta or just a milkshake, you will find the best at Midtown Café tucked in behind the Uzun Çarşı, near the King's Mausoleum.
There are numerous nightclub that come to life when the sun goes down. All are around the main square by the marina or in the first couple of streets behind Uzun Çarşı.
THINGS OF INTEREST
The sprawling market sets up every Friday behind the otogar (bus stop) at the entrance to town.
* Buses for Fethiye, Antalya, Gömbe (in the mountains) as well as İstanbul leave from the main otogar.
* The local dolmuş service runs from the entrance to the port.