The Bodrum Peninsula is a tourist hotbed, and for a good reason. This side of Aegean has plenty of beautiful beaches and resort towns, including Bodrum, Gumbet, Gumusuluk, Bitez, Yalikavak, Turgutreis, and many more. Of these, Bodrum is the largest and perhaps the most popular. But hot on its tail for the position of best beach and resort town is the increasingly popular Yalikavak.
At first glance, Yalikavak immediately appears better organized than any other resort town or village in its vicinity. It is the peninsula’s best-kept jewel, with its sandy (and coarse) beaches, paved streets, palm trees, idyllic houses, charming cafes, restaurants, and shops. So, if you are looking for a quaint location to spend your vacation, Yalikavak should be at the top of your list.
Yalikavak seems to be all about indulgence. Some come here for the quiet seaside atmosphere while others chase the sun’s warm embrace on the many beaches in the town. But, of course, there are also classy restaurants bringing the best Turkish seafood cuisines to the tables of eager tourists. And if you go to the marina, you’ll witness some pretty incredible displays of pomp and luxury.
But to make the most out of Yalikavak, you’ll want to have a little taste of everything. So spend the mornings strolling around town and hopping between restaurants and cafes where you’ll sample delicious seafood recipes. The afternoons would be better spent sunbathing or swimming on the popular beaches along the seafront.
During your stroll, you’ll realize that almost everything in this town has an endearing feel to it. Even seemingly mundane things, like the patterning on the streets or the arrangement of the houses, stimulate a certain delight absent in other resort towns in the region.
Most importantly, the town embraces modernity without losing touch with its past, giving visitors a dose of nostalgia that keeps them running back to the old town every once in a while.
It wasn’t always this way.
Yalikavak may be the gem of Bodrum Peninsula, but it has been a long journey to get here. Before the 80s, the town was a traditional seaside village that largely depended on the sea and the land. As you would expect in a rural setting, its inhabitants lived a relatively simplistic lifestyle, relying on fishing and sponge diving for income.
The 80s saw significant changes when package tourism exploded in Turkey. The residents were quick to embrace this trend, and to say their lives and the town were transformed as a result would be an understatement. However, the Yalikavak of that era was only popular among British holidaymakers.
Over the past two decades, Yalikavak has undergone two significant changes that have metamorphosed it into the treasure it is today. The first one came in 2002 when Turkey’s legislation made it legal for foreigners to own property in the country. This, in turn, led to an influx of British nationals into Yalikavak, thanks to its pristine location and atmosphere.
The second and most significant change came in 2012. The town’s modest marina was expanded into an ultramodern facility, making Yalikavak an even more desirable place to live and own property. This would also have a hand in tourism since it transformed the resort time into a popular hotspot in the yachting scene.
Top highlights- a deeper dive
We’ve already mentioned some of the things that make Yalikavak a must-see destination in the Bodrum Peninsula. But what does it feel actually to visit these places? What should you expect? Well, here is a deeper dive into the town’s most popular attractions.
Yalikavak’s new marina is less than ten years old. But in its brief existence, the Palmarina has made waves across Turkey’s tourist industry. This impressive facility is the result of a multi-million-pound project that transformed the town’s existing marina into a one-of-a-kind destination. It is the only marina in Turkey that can accommodate up to 69 giga yachts and mega yachts of 40 meters and above.
So, unless you got to Yalikavak via one of these, you don’t want to miss the Plamarina. Here, you’ll see the town’s elites strolling and leisurely hanging out. The sheer sizes of the private yachts that moor here is also a sight to behold. If you are lucky enough during your visit, you might even see boats bordering a hundred meters in length.
You may not be able to get on such a yacht, but there is still more you can do to enjoy life on the Palmarina. This specific section of town is well-known for its emphasis on self-indulgence, as evidenced by the diverse selection of world-class restaurants and shops selling luxury brand items. So, if you have leisure time, hop into one of these and shop your way to satisfaction.
There are around 27 establishments, some of which are international, serving fantastic foods and drinks. Note that dining in any one of these will cost you a lot more than it would in one of the more modest restaurants in the town. But if you can match the price, it will be well worth your wallet.
Summer in the Marina is also a time of parties and music concerts. Big names perform in such events every once in a while, so if you’re visiting during the summer months, you may find yourself in a concert with your favorite performer.
Old town Yalikavak
The impressive marina spells modernity in almost every aspect. And while it has bathed its surroundings in a seemingly inescapable aura of 21st-century life, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a taste of traditional Turkish life. Just wiggle your way past the hustle and bustle of the harbor and sneak past the shops into an area that maintains a relatively slow-paced way of life compared to its surroundings.
This is Yalikavak’s old town, a set of impressive Turkish village architecture with old-style houses surrounded by gardens of tangerine and groves. If you’re looking for peace with an injection of nostalgia, then it would serve you well to spend some time exploring this area. It’s not all quiet, though; every once in a while, a clucking chicken will dart across the street, breaking the old town’s ambiance.
There are also traditional Turkish restaurants and tea shops where you can enjoy Turkish-style mezes and seafood. You couldn’t ask for a better traditional dining experience; the menu is comprehensive, the food is delicious, and the price is pretty affordable. And if you stay in the old town long enough, you can also enjoy brilliant views of the sunset.
A tour of anywhere on the Bodrum peninsula would be incomplete without spending hours on a secluded beach somewhere enjoying the sun and turquoise Aegean waters. Well, Yalikavak doesn’t disappoint in this regard; it is home to several incredible beaches that are well worth your mornings and lazy afternoons.
One of these beaches is located along Paj Caddesi (Beach Avenue), just within the town center. This here is a one-of-a-kind coarse-sand-and-pebble beach lined with easy chairs, lounge chairs, and beach umbrellas that provide the perfect spot to lay around and enjoy the view. There are also other beach facilities belonging to certain hotels, bars, and restaurants along the coast. Some will require you to pay a fee to use their amenities, while others only need you to buy a meal, drinks, snacks, or rent a hotel room.
Another beach is Tilkicik which sits in a secluded cove and offers an excellent spot for sunbathing. It’s located on the northeast area of the southern shore of Tilkicik bay, with plenty of restaurants and hotels to go with the azure swimming waters.
Dodo beach is also quite popular among Yalikavak’s visitors. It sits on the eastern shore of the Kudur Peninsula 2 miles north of the Carsi. Dodo beach itself is a private beach with quality facilities. However, you must part with a small fee for entry and use of its facilities. As a result, it is usually less crowded than the neighboring beach, Halk Plaji, a public beach with no facilities.
Xuma Beach is another private facility in the Yalikavak area. It is located 2.5 miles northwest of Carsi and features some of the best facilities of any beach in its vicinity. Like Dodo, an entry fee is required. This has made it somewhat of an exclusive location with enough room to enjoy sunbathing without worrying about crowds. It also offers magnificent views of the bay area, harbor, and the town of Yalikavak.
The ghost town
Ever wondered how it feels like to explore an abandoned town? To shiver with the slightest noises and freeze at the sight of shadows. Well, you can experience all that at Sandima. This is an old deserted Greek village with around 80 crumbling Greek-style whitewashed houses with wooden shutters covering the windows. Unfortunately, there is only one occupied house that doubles as an art gallery.
Yalikavak town comes alive on Thursdays with an open-air market that sells everything from jewelry, clothes, and souvenirs to food items like organic fruits and veggies. So, if you are a self-catering holidaymaker, Thursdays are an excellent day to grab foodstuffs and other necessary items at a relatively affordable price.
Explore Yalikavak with MTT
Made in Turkey Tours offers comprehensive travel ideas to explore Yalikavak and the surrounding towns. So let us take you on your next Turkish adventure; book with us today.