Last stop on our Turkey trip is a beautiful beach town in the South of Turkey. Oludeniz is a lesser known tourist destination but one that all Turkish people I’ve met have told me is a must. They were right. From the high Badabag mountains, to the impossibly turquoise waters, this place gives Cape Town a run for its money. Any Turkey travelers seeking a chilled out beach stop with one of the best paragliding venues in the world, look no further than this town.
Getting to Oludeniz
Oludeniz is not an easy place to get to. The town is small, and secluded from most of the major cities. Nevertheless, this town is a HGUE tourist hot spot for British people and most things in the town are quoted in Lira and pounds. There are direct flights from the UK to Dalaman, the closest airport to Oludeniz.
Immediately following our Pamukkale day tour, we discussed with our tour guide that we needed to take a bus from Denizli (the closest city to Pamukkale), to Fethiye, the closest city to Oludeniz. There are a few companies that run this service, and we ended up buying our bus tickets at the bus station two hours before departure. The bus ride was 3.5 hours and overall, was a positive experience. Since our bus ride was so short, we did not get to ride in one of the luxury buses with wifi and fully reclined seats.
The easiest option for all tourists is to fly from Istanbul to Dalaman. Turkish Airline and Pegasus fly this route regularly and a ticket can be purchased for around 100-150L. From Dalaman, take a taxi (about 50 Euros), or book a shuttle on Shuttle Direct for a much cheaper fare to Oludeniz. It’s takes 45-60min.
Dolmus from Fethiye to Oludeniz
From Fethiye to Oludeniz is a breeze thanks to the Dolmus, Turkey’s version of a cheap group taxi. Before I got here, the picture I had in my mind of a Dolmus were the beat up taxi’s in South Africa or the Daladala’s in Zanzibar that look more fit to carry old furniture than people. Oh, how I was wrong. Dolmus in Turkey are large, and comfortable. They follow a certain route, usually along the main road. They make a few stops along the way but if you need to get out somewhere along its route, just tell the driver and he’ll stop. We caught one at 10pm and felt 100% safe. For 5L a person, we took a 20 min dolmus ride from Fethiye bus station to Oludeniz
Where we stayed
Oludeniz is a beach getaway for Turkish and Europeans alike. It’s about as close as the UK has to a mexico beach getaway. Because of this, there are tons of places for all budgets in Oludeniz and Fethiye. Either town is a great option but Oludeniz is right next to the beach and there are no beaches in Fethiye. Oludeniz is not your typical Turkish town; it is very much catered towards tourism.
High Season vs Low Season
The season here runs from Easter to early November mainly because the winters can get cold. Most hotels are closed during the off-season, along with most of the restaurants and shops. We came here in mid April and the town was dead. Most of the shops and restaurants were being renovated and the town resembled more of a construction area than a beach resort. Rest assured, EVERYONE in this town told me another month and the streets would be shoulder to shoulder on a Friday night. Hard to Believe.
We ended up staying in one of the few hotels that were open in April. We wanted to be close to the beach and this hotel was our best option. For about 50 Euros a night, we stayed in a decent room, with all food provided (important during this time of year as no restaurants were open), and we could walk to the beach in five minutes.
If money is of no concern, be sure to check out Lykia World. It’s a hotel in its own cove about 5 minutes driving from Oludeniz. You can see it from Oludeniz Beach and the accomodation at this resort as supposed to be terrific. Last I heard, the rooms here start at 500L a night.
What to do?
The water color is nothing short of spectacular here. It is more turquoise than any water I’ve seen in my life. Oludeniz, which means “dead sea”, gets its name as the water here is so incredibly calm, even during storms. I couldn’t see a single wave in any direction the entire time I was here. The water temperature is a bit cold in April but still doable on a sunny day. In the summer, this water is perfect to swim in so expect the large crowds. The sand is not great however. Unlike the perfect white and soft beaches of Cape Town, the beach is more pebbles than sand. Nevertheless, the pebbles are small and is comfortable to lay and walk on.
This semi-circle stretch of sandy beach (not pebbles here) is famous and has been published in numerous travel magazines. I wasn’t all that impressed with the scenery here as the water loses its impossibly turquoise hue. Nevertheless, it is adjacent to the town and worth a visit. I’m told it gets very crowded during the high season.
Tandem Paragliding from the Badabag Mountains
Once the beach gets boring, there are a few activities to be done here, none of which are more amazing than the paragliding from the Badabag mountains. From a launch point of almost 2km above sea level, we had some breathtaking views of the scenery. The paragliding here is easily one of the top few in the world. No questions asked, this was something I had to do. Like any other tour in Turkey, finding the right deal and bargaining down is key. I paid 170L per flight but one of the girls in our time slot got it for 120L as a special deal from her hostel.
Whatever you pay is totally worth it! The meeting point is at Oludeniz beach and we rode up with our guides who had done it thousands of times and told us to rest assured and everything would be fine. After half an hour or so, we reach our launch point. There are three launch points of different altitudes that the guides will choose depending on the weather and you won’t feel short of altitude at any one. We get set up within 5 minutes and then we’re being told to run straight off the cliff!
The scenery is absolutely stunning. I could see everything, even see as far as the Greek island of Rhodes. From above, the water just looks like a giant turquoise canvas as the waters here are as calm as a pond. The mountains in the background are a perfect backdrop and we’re so high up that the city is just a dots. The wind is a little chilly but with Paragliding is not scary at all. Once you jump off the cliff, it is smooth sailing all the way down.
The ride lasts about 30-40 minutes depending on the wind. The pilot will bring a gopro with him to snap up some cool pics but absolutely be sure to bring your own camera. They wanted to charge us 100L for the videos and pictures which is just insane. If I hadn’t taken my own pictures, I would have had no choice but to buy their pictures (they are quite good however).
Video of our Turkey Trip including the paragliding
Island Cruise Boat Tour
Hanging out at the beach, you’ll see boats docked all over. These boats go on day trips along the peninsula every day. We did the Oludeniz six island tour and paid 40L a person (lunch included). We didn’t even book this with anyone as we stayed so close to the beach we just walked up to them in the morning and bought tickets on the spot. It was nice to get out onto the water in a boat but our tour was PACKED. There must have been at least fifty people on a boat that is meant to comfortable seat half that. The weather was gloomy on this making the experience overall not as enjoyable as we hoped.
I would however, recommend chartering a private boat on a sunny day. If there weren’t’ as many people as there was on our trip, it’d be a much better experience as there really are some incredible places to see like Butterfly Valley.
We spent a total of three nights in Oludeniz. I wish we had come here a week later as there is a ferry that runs from Fethiye to the Greek island, Rhodes for a day trip! Nevertheless, our entire 10 days spent in Turkey felt like a blur because it was so short and we did so much. There is so much to see in Turkey that I will definitely need to come back some day.