MARMARIS

Situated on a bay, backed by rugged pine-clad mountains, Marmaris is one of the most attractive maritime parklands, ideal for water sports and sailing. It makes an excellent starting point for the "Blue Voyage" tour of the Aegean coastline. In May, the Marmaris Yacht Charter Show provides an opportunity to meet the yachts' captains and crews. With plenty of provisions aboard, you set sail in the craft of your choice and languidly explore the spectacular beauty of southern Turkey.

In Marmaris, sample the typical Turkish cuisine in one of the marina restaurants and drink rakı, anisette, the traditional Turkish way, over ice and diluted with water. Later stroll along the brightly lit and palm-lined promenade and indulge yourself at one of the ice cream vendors. Energetic entertainment at a lively bar or dancing until dawn at a sophisticated disco can end a perfect day.

There are many good buys in Marmaris' boutiques, colorful bazaars and markets. You can find excellent leather and suede goods, copper and brassware, jewellery and objects carved of onyx. Turkish carpets, textiles and embroidery make good handcrafted souvenirs, and the locally produced pine -scented honey called çambalı is superb.

Ancient Marmaris, Physkos, was an important stage on the Anatolia-Rhodes-Egypt trade route. In the 16th century Süleyman the Magnificent had a citadel built on a hill, the remains of which can still be seen today.

Swimmers should not miss Atatürk Park, to the east of Marmaris, where a shallow beach, extending to the bay leads to safe waters. The clear sea is warm enough for swimming from early May until late September. Marmaris also has horseback riding and tennis centres for the sports enthusiast. This is one of the few places in the world where you can delight in the heady aroma of the frankincense tree. Weekly ferry lines run between Marmaris and Venice during the summer season.

Near Marmaris at Icmeler, the hazy mountains of the interior slope down to sandy beaches. Under blue skies, the clear sea is ideal for all types of water sports. Many find this area so irresistible that they stay longer than originally planned. And there are some excellent accommodations here, in which you can prolong your contact with nature. As you drive down from the high mountains into the village of Turunç, the scene opens out onto the spectacular blue waters beyond the natural harbour. The village itself is small and scattered around the bay: Most of the restaurants border the beach. A few bars and restaurants farther back from the water's edge offer fresh fish and superb views. Kumlubük, a turquoise paradise, lies on the southern side of the bay. On the northern side, above the water, stands the ancient Rhodian city of Amos. Loryma, at the tip of the Bozburun Peninsula, where the ruins of the ancient harbour and castle remain, can only be reached by boat. Natural quiet bays and scattered islands punctuate the northern shore of the peninsula, ideal for those who want to get away from it all.

Sedir Island, in the Gulf of Gokova, is the ancient Cedrai. Its old city walls, theatre and temples can be visited by driving from Marmaris north to Gelibolu Bay and then crossing by boat. This voyage also offers an unforgettable panoramic view of the mountain scenery across the bay. At the head of the gulf is the village of Gökova Whose houses seem to cascade down the mountainside. Restaurants built over bubbling, fresh water streams that fall from the highlands create an ,unforgettable setting. The towering pines and cool breezes of Gokova Park are often a welcome respite from the hot sun.

The Datça Peninsula provides a natural boundary between the Aegean Sea, the Gulf of Gökova to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Hisarönü to the south. Along all the 75 km from Marmaris to Datça, the road winds among trees and hills, permitting lovely views over the expanse of blue. Campers have many perfect settings to choose from; the less adventurous can stay in one of the many comfortable holiday villages. 25 km to Datça is the beautiful Aktur beach. In Datça white-washed buildings hung with bougainvillaea decorate the town. The marina is on the southern bay; while swimmers prefer the northern bay. Around the marina bars, cafes and a wide selection of shops keep the tourist interested. Some shops remain open well into the evening. Relaxing over a pre-dinner drink and then a delicious meal in a welcoming restaurant is a popular way to spend the evening hours. Of course, the local eateries offer both fresh fish and classical Turkish cuisine. With any remaining energy, take a stroll and find a disco to your liking to while away until the early morning hours. 10 km north of Datca, the Kormen Harbour is connected to Bodrum by a daily ferry line.

As you travel out of Datca, either by road or by boat, you will find unspoilt bays and golden sandy beaches. Kargı is one of the most popular bays in the region.

At the end of the peninsula (38 km from Datca) stands the ancient Carian city of Knidos, described by Strabo as "a city that was built for the most beautiful of goddesses, Aphrodite, on the most beautiful of peninsulas." Famous as a center of art and culture in the fourth century B.C. the city had two harbours: one on the Aegean and the other on the Mediterranean. The remains of a circular temple dedicated to the goddess of love overlook the two harbours; the arcaded way was built of white marble, heart-shaped columns. The legendary Aphrodite of Praxiteles' statue, one of the most beautiful sculptures of antiquity, once graced this temple.

The town of Koycegiz lies at the northern end of a lake of the same name and Is joined to the Mediterranean by a natural channel. This unique environment is being preserved as a nature and wildlife sanctuary. A road shaded with aromatic frankincense trees leads to the tiny village of Dalyan on the inland waterway. The maze of channels is easily explored by boat as you immerse yourself in this tranquil dream world. The restaurants which line the waterways specialise in delicious meals of fresh fish. High on the cliff face, at a bend in the river, above the fascinating ancient harbour city of Caunos, magnificent tombs were carved into the rock. The Dalyan Delta, with a long, golden sandy beach at its mouth, is a nature conservation area and a refuge for sea turtles (Caretta Caretta) and blue crabs. At Ekincik, a delightful yacht mooring, you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this area. Only a half hour's drive from Dalaman Airport, Sarigerme has wonderful sandy beaches, and a pleasant holiday village discreetly situated in a pine forest. The Dalaman River is the best for rafting and the best time for rafting is between May and October. The road to Fethiye winds up and down hills through a heavily forested region that offers occasional glimpses of the sea and an islet or two basking in total seclusion. The Gulf of Gocek and its friendly marina is one of the Mediterranean's best sailing spots. Dotted with islands and indented with many coves, its land and seascapes are irresistible. The ruins of Arymaxa, an ancient city at the southern tip of the guff, lie at the edge of the azure waters. Opposite, on Tersane Island, stand Byzantine ruins, including those of the ancient shipyards.