Villages of the Bozburun Peninsula - Kumlubük
Tucked away at the end of the mountain road, the double horseshoe bay of Kumlubük has little traffic and just a handful of addresses which take advantage of the wide, sand and shingle sea front. Just before the village is the secluded Amos Bay with a small cove, lokanta (café) and the remains of an ancient amiptheatre dating back to Hellenistic times. A wealthy Turkish businessman purchased much of the land in Kumlubük and has ensured that the views and beaches in the area are accessible for all and protected from the perils of tourist development.
The stunning Kumlubük bay is overlooked from the dramatic canyon-top location of The Dionysos Estate, uniquely featured in the Fairlight Jones’ programme. The bays of Kumlubük and Amos have several fish restaurants fringed along the back of the beach, one of which is the reputable Dionysos Beach Club, with other low key addresses which cater for passing yachts mooring in the bay.
One of the main attractions in this region is exploring by foot the magnificent natural surroundings and this stretch of coast forms part of the long-distance Carian Trail. There are many tracks leading up into the mountains and along the stunning coastline direct from The Dionysos Estate. The coastal track from Kumlubük passes the ruins and small picturesque bay of Amos and then onto Turunç Bay – about a 90 minute stroll.
It’s worth a detour to the Osmaniye Koy honey house, located on the top of the Bozburun peninsular about 15 miles into the pine groves behind Turunҫ. It was created in 2011 to increase awareness of the local pine honey production and offers a fascinating insight into the production of honey which is a primary source of income for the local population.
Descend the coast road into picturesque Seilimye and you’ll think you’ve arrived in a time warp save for the few urbane types drifting from restaurant to crystal blue waters.
Away from the main seafront is a warren of small streets where rural life in the tumbledown cottages continues as if unchanged for centuries: vegetable gardens brim with oleander bushes and pendulous figs swing from the trees. Gnarled-face men sit at outdoor cafés debating over cups of Turkish tea, chain-smoking as they play dominoes, while head-scarfed women set out baskets of thyme to dry in the sun. Many locals are still gainfully employed in the cultivation of figs and almonds and the remains of an Ottoman fort overlooking the bay pays testament to times past.
Yet the double-fronted horseshoe harbour encased by a wooden boardwalk with occasional beach platforms, render Selimye postcard-picturesque. Wander along the pretty boardwalk past colourful local boutiques, beachfront restaurants, fisherman cleaning their nets and school children stopping off for a swim on their way home. Salty fishing boats are moored alongside gleaming teak gulets and in high season an occasional super-yacht.
This working village still manages to make its living from the sea, alongside a handful of tourists and yachting types, many of who simply sail in for the day to dine at Selimiye’s most popular restaurant, Sardunya. Fish and service are sublimely matched and the seafood restaurant is held in great esteem by Turkish and other visitors from around the world. Enjoy platters of grilled calamari, garlic prawns and sea bass at several thriving restaurants along the seashore, many with their own private beach which is ideal for a postprandial dip or snooze.
High Season note: The months of July and August (together with National holidays) sees Selimiye in a differing light as it attracts a good number of Turkish visitors drawn to its rustic-chic vibe. Selimiye’s ambience is wonderfully eclectic and colourful at these times, but perhaps not so sleepy!
This sleepy fishing hamlet has just a lick of tourism and a working village at its heart. The main shingle shore looks out to the Greek Island of Symi with a handful of restaurants and houses directly on the beach front. The platforms and jetties which lead off the beach are a perfect to relax with a good book, or to jump from into the water for a cooling dip. In the far corner are interesting rock formations best explored while snorkelling.
Looking up into the tree lined hills that rise above is a small road crossing over the mountains into the Sögüt's second bay, with the wonderfully located Panorama restaurant perched at the top, an ideal place to imbibe the amethyst sunsets which reflect across the bay.
The road that leads away from the beach up the hill circles past various small villas and houses and past the well-situated Panorama restaurant – renowned for its good views and excellent food - over to the main village street which has a baker, barber and mosque.
The main town along the peninsula, it is well worth a detour for its deep harbours peppered with yachts and gulets, a sprinkling of arty boutiques, the fine Baklava shop and impressive boatyard. There is a narrow, pebbled beach and the ruins of Larymna which dates back to 1,000BC can be seen on the top of the craggy hills above the town.
Fishing and farming are the main form of employment although there are some well-run pensions and simple fish restaurants, tea house and bars. Bozburun is not very well known for its beaches but has wonderful coves and inlets just outside of the harbour and is best explored by boat. Like other parts of the peninsula, there is excellent trekking on the Carian Trail during the cooler months.
We recommend the grilled octopus straight from the barbecue at Filika Café (a family run restaurant next to the waters’ edge) a great place to sit quietly watching the boats bobbing up and down, while inside fishing nets hang from the ceiling.
The beautiful village of Bayir is one of the original settlements of the Bozburun Peninsula and is said to date back to over 200 BC. It is one of the central crossing points of the Peninsula, albeit one where rush hour consists of a brace of donkeys and a stray goat. Located on top of a hill on the original site of the ancient city of Syrna, Bayir’s mosque is said to have been built on the temple of Asklepios, the God of Healing, although no evidence of this exists today.
With just a small store, a central square, lokanata (café) or two and a smattering of local village houses, Bayir is picture-postcard perfect and well worth exploration. Walkers and locals alike can often be spotted sipping sweetened çay (tea) from tulip-shaped glasses, sheltered in the cooling shade of the mature trees. Local life carries on largely unchanged and elderly women in housecoats tending animals and men playing backgammon can be glimpsed as they go about their daily rituals.
Most of the trees seem to (and probably have) stood here for centuries, while the venerable Plane Tree of Bayir, situated next to the mosque, is something of an attraction in its own right. Said to be 2,500 years old, rumour has it that good fortune will come to those who tarry beneath its boughs. Visitors to the area walk around the tree (one to fifteen times depending on which version of the fable you hear) and pray for good fortune and a long, happy life.
Bayir is renowned for the production of honey and the bees in the area feed off the pine and carob trees, which create a distinctive taste to the orange-yellow, sweet nectar. The honey is sold in the village and also traded at the local markets, where it is sold in solid sheets and exchanges hands as if a currency in its own right.
The village unfolds onto open terrain with limestone outcrops, raw boulders and vertiginous cliffs rising into the mountains beyond. Here and there the rugged landscape is softened with patches of oleander, rock roses and the subtle hints of wild rosemary, thyme and sage. Here and there you might notice the odd-looking balkabagi fruit dangling from the houses, bulbous pumpkins carved or painted as decorations.
Bayir is on the route of the long-distance Carian Trail and you will see signs for its paths leading from the village centre. Many walkers pause a while to refresh and refuel and are eager to strike up conversation while pausing for a glass of home-pressed lemonade.
The pretty village of Orhaniye has a picturesque bay, sand spit and a tiny island with a ruined castle which was once part to the ancient city of Bybassos. The 600m long sand spit is called Kizmuku – maiden’s beach – after the legendary princess who tried to build a bridge of sand to escape invading pirates. The beautiful bay of Marti Marina in Orhaniye is very popular with sailors and yachty-types and is the largest marina on the Bozburun peninsula.
The sleepy village has a typically Turkish relaxed pace of life and the weekly market is held on a Saturday when friends from nearby villages meet up and gossip over a cup of cay in the lokanta in between shopping for fresh fruit, cheese and vegetables. There are a wide range of stalls covering all food types as well as clothes, shoes and general household goods. It opens early and it is best to visit at the beginning of the day before it gets too hot.
Shortly on from Orhaniye is the Turgutkoy Carpet Weavers Association, a well organised, government funded initiative where you can learn about the history of carpet weaving, the various styles, designs and local craftsmanship. The private initiative attracts fewer guests than other carpet outlets in the bigger towns. It is the perfect place to find a bargain and don’t forget to haggle!