For travellers to Turkey, there is every reason to get excited about the small coastal resort of Olu Deniz on the illustrious Mediterranean coast. As a popular holiday destination of the Fethiye Peninsula, hotels, bars, and restaurants line both sides of immaculate and well-maintained streets.
Backed by the Taurus Mountain range, it provides a perfect picture postcard scene especially with its long sandy and pristine clean beach. Protected by law, authorities are unable to build a harbour so daily boat trips leaving in the morning, lower their gangplanks for holidaymakers to board and enjoy a day of coastline sailing. Paragliders taking off from the nearby Babadag Mountains have also made it their landing pad. As impressive as this may all sound, its prize possession, attracting the most admiration is the scenic Blue Lagoon on the outskirts.
The Blue Lagoon of Olu Deniz
During the 1970s, mass tourism in Turkey was unheard of. Instead, the famous Hippie Trail took backpackers to unknown destinations of which Olu Deniz was one of them. Since I was just a child then, one can only imagine the vibes and atmosphere of this secret destination that provided camping facilities to travellers. Days would have been spent leisurely swimming in the lagoon, while at night, ferocious campfires roared and holidaymakers laughed, joked, and enjoyed life off the grid.
Fast-forward more than 40 years later, and the hippies have disappeared but the Blue Lagoon is now one of the most photographed beaches in Turkey. Most pictures are an aerial view showing a long stretch of sand and flora protecting the water inlet and upon seeing them, denying its beauty is impossible.
Olu Deniz means Dead Sea that aptly refers to the Blue Lagoon’s calm, tranquil waters. As part of a protected national park, it is open from morning to night seven days a week and being just a short walk from Olu Deniz center, often used by holidaymakers there. A restaurant provides refreshments while sunbeds and pedalos are available for hire making the Blue Lagoon a fun family day out.
Other Places to Visit in Olu Deniz
While the Blue Lagoon is a must-see Mediterranean destination, many other scenic areas are also within close distance. Every morning from the main beach, a small water taxi sails across the water to another small bay holding the rustic Butterfly Valley.
The Blue Lagoon disregarded all traces of its hippie history, but Butterfly Valley embraced it. The green valley sitting in between two towering mountains and fronted by a pebbly beach, offers simple amenities such as a self-service restaurant, wood huts for accommodation and limited electric access. Yet, it has won admiration from people all over the world because its setting is vastly different to the tedious onslaught of the modern world.
A short bus ride away, Kayakoy Ghost Village still presents a beautiful yet eerie atmosphere. Previously housing Greeks and Turks, life was ordinary and routine until the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne asked for deportation of Greeks and likewise for Turks living in Greece.
Returning Turks couldn't adapt, and a series of small earthquakes preceded desertion of Kayakoy, previously named Livissi by Greeks. These days crumbling houses scattered across the green hillside, sit side by side with old churches and abandoned schools. The fictional book of Birds without Wings by Louis Bernieres is set in this village and it attempts to tell the story of the beginning of its destruction through a love scenario. It is also partly responsible for the widespread and respected reputation of Kayakoy Ghost Village.
Another natural landmark displaying Mother Nature’s power is Saklikent gorge, albeit not within the Olu Deniz district but just a short drive away. The canyon formed by an earthquake thousands of years ago plays host to a rushing stream of limestone water and at the entrance, small traditional restaurants serve a variety of Turkish food including fresh trout from nearby farms. A viewing platform covering the stream of water shows off the majestic appearance Saklikent Gorge, but most people head further into it for more views that are scenic.
Travel Tips: Holidaymakers generally spend 1 to 2 weeks in beautiful Olu Deniz, but if you are travelling just to see major landmarks and sites, four days is ample to visit the Blue Lagoon, Butterfly Valley, Ghost village, and Saklikent gorge.