Ok, I’ll admit it. Before I first visited Turkey 6 years ago I was sceptical about going there. My preconceptions were based on reading awful British magazine articles about middle aged women visiting resorts there and picking up young Turkish husbands who then proceeded to take all of their life savings. I had heard about the busy resorts with lager louts, cheap cocktails and overly friendly bar staff and decided it wasn’t for me. My first trip to the Bodrum Peninsula showed me just how wrong I had been!
Ok, so lots of women may go over to Turkey to acquire a husband, lots of people do go there to party and get drunk, but these people don’t go to the Bodrum Peninsula (as far as I can tell anyway!) I first visited Yalikavak on the Bodrum Peninsula in 2008 and I have been back every year since. I can honestly say it’s my favourite place to holiday. I remember the first time I arrived in Yalikavak. As we drove over the lush green hills from Bodrum Airport and looked down onto the village I could see sparkling turquoise sea, boats bobbing on the water and white house’s sprinkled over the hillsides all around. This did not fit with my vision of Turkey at all!
It seems word has spread about Yalikavak’s charms as a recent article in the Daily Mail puts it ‘A new celebrity hotspot is Yalikavak on the peninsula.’ I’d heard rumours of Tom Hanks mooring his yacht here several times, and with the development of Yalikavak’s marina (which will be the largest in Turkey when finished) and the opening of Flavio Briatore’s ‘Billionaires Club’ on the marina last summer (I was in Yalikavak when it opened and saw the spectacular firework display, that’s as close as I got to the action!), it looks like Tom may not be the only celebrity holidaying here soon. Yalikavak has long been described as the ‘St Tropez of the Bodrum Peninsula’ and its reputation as a hangout for the rich and famous looks set to grow.
On the other hand Yalikavak is essentially just a very beautiful, clean and relaxed family holiday resort. The promenade along the seafront is lined with good quality restaurants and gift shops. The restaurants turn from chilled out beach bars in the daytime, complete with free sun loungers and huge cushions to lie on right on the beach giving the place a bit of an Ibiza vibe, to candlelit restaurants where you can dine on the sand with the sea lapping gently at your feet. The big difference between Yalikavak and St Tropez (and this is a guess as I’ve never actually holidayed in St.Tropez) is price. It may have all the trendy bars and delicious restaurants but you won’t pay through the nose for it. The amazing sunsets that you can sit and watch every evening from any of the beachfront bars are also free of charge!
If you like a bargain then you will also love Yalikavak’s weekly market, held every Thursday and known as the ‘peninsula’s best.’ You can buy everything from handbags, sunglasses, jewellery or pottery at very reasonable prices. The food stalls here are also full of delicious fruits, herbs and spices that you should try.
Just a short drive around the bay from Yalikavak is Gumusluk which is famed as the home of ancient Myndos, the underwater city of Roman ruins. It is also famed for its fantastic seafood restaurants that line the seashore. This quaint seaside village is reportedly a favourite with Jade Jagger, known to love all things cool and chilled out! I’ve visited Gumulsuk on a number of occasions and it really is beautiful. The seafood there is a little dearer than you’ll find in Yalikavak but you pay for the view and the wonderful atmosphere here so it’s worth splashing out on. There is also a great little jewellery shop here full of trinkets and lots of little stores selling the pretty, colourful lamps that you see almost everywhere on the Peninsula.
Whilst Yalikavak has great nightlife with bars staying open until the early hours, you won’t find drunken yobs staggering out of bars here. It’s all very civilised with music being kept to a reasonable level inside the air conditioned bars. I have holidayed here as a couple, with family and with groups of friends and there is as much or as little nightlife here depending on what you want. Of course Bodrum with its 24 hour party atmosphere and Halikarnas, the world’s biggest open air nightclub, is only half an hour away so you can get there easily if you want to have a crazy night of partying.
If you are looking for a friendly holiday resort with sparklingly clean beaches, good restaurants, a chilled out atmosphere and unbeatable sunshine then I cannot recommend anywhere better than Yalikavak. That’s why I’ve booked to go again this year and I’ll be keeping my celeb spotting goggles at the ready!