The Sunken City of Kekova, Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Started the day with another lovely breakfast in the garden of Owlsland B&B. Today we were changing hotels from the mountain village of Bezirgan to the seaside town of Kalkan below (17 kilometers down a windy road), before bopping down the coast to Ucagiz to see the famed sunken ruins of Kekova.

We picked up picnic provisions at the Friday market in Kas. Great selection of fresh fruits and vegies.

Picked up some olives, cheese and some super heavy local bread. Two rounds must have weighed a kilo or more.

Boat to Ucagiz

Once to Ucagiz a nice Turkish man offered us a place to park and a boat out to the sunken city and then out to the island of Kalekoy. The bigger and more comfortable boat for just the four of us cost us double the 60TL Paulina our hostess at Owlsland told us we should be able to get a small boat for.

It’s a pretty bay surrounded by rocky islands and dark blue waters despite a tinge of haze remaining in the air. A perfect temperature to hang out on the boat and enjoy the sun and the water, however, the sunken ruins were rather underwhelming.  The mental images that the idea of an ancient “sunken” city invoke are much more exotic than the ruins themselves. Still the site draws boat loads of tourists who cruise along the rocky shore of Kekova island to view the ruins with a portion of the foundation below the water level. Although interesting to imagine this city perched along the shore before the 2nd century earthquake that leveled it, it is certainly not worthy of the “spectacular” or “stunning” adjectives used in the guidebooks.

After a short 20 minute pass through the ruins our driver took us over to Kalekoy Island where we could climb to the castle and visit the ruins of ancient Simena. Immediately we were greeted by two local women eager to show us the way up the hill through back alleys, while trying to entice us with their basket of scarves and table cloths. Truly the most obnoxious hawkers we’ve encountered since arriving in Turkey. The castle does offer dramatic views of the surrounding blue water and rocky islands dotted with sarcophagi.

The ruins themselves, while less interesting than most, do sport one of the smallest Roman theaters in antiquity, on the left before you make the final climb to the castle viewpoint.

Back down and out a dirt path past the WC is a trail through sarcophagi (my favorite part of the visit) with picnic opportunities beneath the shade of 1000 year old olive trees.

Swimming is another possibility on these boat excursions to the island and would be welcoming a bit later on in the year. The first week in May the water was still quite cold with few actually braving the water.

On our drive back to Kalkan stopped at a picture perfect beach, Kaputas, with the turquoise blue water and a white pebble beach this coast is known for.


The White House, rated #1 on Trip Advisor in Kalkan, has a great terrace overlooking the bay.

The rooms are clean, small and sparcely decorated in all white with faux wood furniture. With a total lack of amenities such as shampoo, hair dryers or even a top sheet (just a thin blanket) this is certainly not a luxury establishment but a good beachy option to pass a few days in Kalkan.

Dinner at Trio, one of the many restaurants along the harbor. Albeit a pretty setting with outdoor dining, this area is more a British version of Turkeyland than anything really Turkish. Hawkers outside the restaurants try to lure you in with the typical banter in good English, asking where you are from and inviting you to look at their menu. All promise that they have great food and fresh fish.

Trio is no different, offering an extensive menu of Turkish and more western options, but honestly these restaurants are designed to please the tourist palate, not the discerning foodie.

The cold meze with the standard, yogurt dip, eggplant salad, humus and feta had about as much flavor as you would find in St. Louis, Missouri.

Other more westernized dishes such as leek and bacon chicken or Mediterranean chicken were tasty but smothered in cheese and cream sauces don’t offer true Mediterranean flavors. As one would expect, come here for the fun holiday atmosphere; go elsewhere if you want to experience real Turkish food.

May 4, 2012

For links to all the posts in this series see the Turkey page.

4 thoughts

  1. I understand your dismay at the guidebooks, but this looks quite interesting none-the-less…. Does make you wonder who writes those things. The eggplant, cheese and humus plate has my mouth watering. And there’s something about eating on location that makes the memory! -Thank you, Renee.

    1. Interesting yes; “stunning”, no.
      Concerning guidebooks, I imagine over-inflated reports boost more sales than the straight truth. Who doesn’t want their dream destination to be the most incredible place ever?

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