Having travelled to Yalikavak in Bodrum many times, it is now, my favourite holiday destination in Turkey. With much to admire, this beautiful seaside resort, is popular with foreign and Turkish tourists. There are five reasons in particular why I keep going back, and this article also serves as a good guide for first time visitors to the resort.
Things to do in Yalikavak
Sandy Beaches in Yalikavak
Yalikavak’s beaches are just a narrow strip of sand but they are great places to hang out, in the day or in the evening. The main stretch of beach runs from the centre of the village down to the old fishing port. Free sun loungers belong to bars and restaurants situated on the promenade, and you can sit there for as long as you like, providing you buy refreshments or food.
Most bars also have good WiFi connections, so you can lie on your lounger and surf the Internet. Jetties and floating platforms, lead way into the shallow water and the beach is never crowded, even in summer, making it a great destination for family beach holidays. Stay there until “the golden hour” and you are in for an extra treat. This area is renowned for vibrant sunsets, so wait until the sun drops down behind the horizon, for the perfect photo opportunity.
I have been known to arrive at the beach at 11am and leave at 1am after enjoying a full day of sunbathing, dinner on the beach and drinks! The chilled out atmosphere in Yalikavak means no one will bat an eyelid if you haven’t dressed for dinner.
I can recommend Sofis Bar and Restaurant for an all-day beach and bar experience. Their Turkish nights that take place every Thursday night in summer are also great fun. More beach clubs are opening up on the other side of Yalikavak Bay, in places like Xuma Beach and Magi Beach, but you will have to pay for sunbeds here.
Yalikavak Market attracts visitors from all along the Bodrum Peninsula, who seek out bargains for clothing, leather goods, electrical items, jewellery and fabrics. It is also a fantastic place to buy fresh food produce if you are staying in a self-catering property. The fruit and veg looks so appetising and you can buy it for a fraction of the price you will pay in the supermarkets.
Nuts and grains are also available in abundance and they are the Turks favourite snack. Alternatively, for something sweeter and also a great souvenir for family and friends, opt for traditional Turkish delight. Most traders are happy to give you a sample to try before you buy.
Many stall traders, still use selling techniques dating from the Ottoman era. They are not reserved like shop owners, in the Western world, so if you stop to browse, expect some sales banter with it. It is all part of the fun, of shopping like a Turk, however tone up your haggling skills before you go, so you grab a bargain in the process.
The market is held every Thursday on the market square, at the top of town, near the bus station. Get there as early as possible because it does get busy and very hot around mid-day.
Cruising the Coastline on Daily Boat Trips
Every day, boat trips leave from Yalikavak old harbour and normally, friends and I, opt for the shared boat trips with other people because this works out cheaper but I think, an amazing experience is hiring a private boat. Last summer, a day’s rental cost 550TL for five people. That works out at just £30 per person at the current exchange rate.
The boat trips either head off to Rabbit Island and Gumusluk, or go east, around the headland to quiet bays, that are ideal for snorkelling and fishing. Food served on-board is always plentiful and delicious. You can also buy soft or alcoholic drinks, and there is lots of room to spread out, soak up the sun and take in some amazing views.
The Aegean Sea is hard to beat for the shades of turquoise water and seeing it does make you appreciate how stunning the coastline is.
I enjoy boat trips but you should avoid them, if you have young children. There is little escape from the sun and even in the shaded areas, it gets hot. It’s great for tanning but make sure you reapply sun cream regularly. Even locals have returned to harbour, sunburnt after a boat trip out at sea!
The State of the Art Palmarina
As an avid fan of Yalikavak and its traditional charm, I was concerned when plans were released for a new marina. The multi-billion pound state of the art marina did not seem to fit in with the quaint appeal of the village, its cobbled streets, and old fishing harbour. However, last September I saw the marina for myself and was pleasantly surprised.
Built away from the old town, it did not affect the picture postcard appearance of Yalikavak and holidaymakers now have more choices of places to eat and drink; children’s play areas; designer shops; art galleries; and exclusive nightclubs.
Quite honestly, I cannot afford to use many of these new establishments but looking at the huge super yachts moored in the marina, there are plenty of people who can. Even more exciting are the plans for high-speed ferries to leave from the resort for daily trips to the Greek Islands.
Considering Yalikavak started life as a small fishing village, the range of international cuisine offered by restaurants is astonishing. Unsurprisingly the seafood is appetizing and the restaurants that line the old harbour, display fresh caught fish in glass cabinets so you can choose your own fish by weight and then have it grilled.
The traditional Turkish restaurants also fill their large glass-fronted counters with mouth-watering mezes (appetizers). Try Acili Ezme, a spicy tomato dip that is perfectly accompanied with freshly baked flatbreads. If Turkish cuisine is not ideal for your palate, everything else is available from the pizza restaurants, as well as Indian and steak houses.
Yalikavak’s restaurants also have the added benefit of surreal surroundings, which make the summer evenings special. Many restaurants line the beach and they place tables on the sand or decking so you can enjoy a quiet meal with the sea lapping, a few metres away.
To mingle with the locals, head uphill through the village to the area surrounding the Mosque. Here you can dine informally (and cheaply) in Turkish style restaurants called lokantas. Teashops also host locals playing animated games of dominoes or cards, and it makes for interesting people watching!