Dalaman’s Turquoise Coast is appropriately named – its beaches are blessed with the aquamarine sea of holiday dreams – but this popular area of Turkey is green in more ways than one. From river cruises and turtle hotspots to secret valley walks and a canyon mud spa – here’s how to enjoy an all-natural getaway in Dalaman.
Experience turtle power
You’ll spot the famous caretta caretta turtle, green sea turtles and the African softshell river turtle in the area. The first is the most endangered and emerges from the Med to nest on Iztuzu Beach near Dalyan. At the far end of the beach you’ll find the Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation.
Take a river cruise
For your very best chance of seeing Dalaman’s famous turtles, rent a boat and sail down the water of the Dalyan Delta – a reed-enclosed river so reminiscent of the epic Katharine Hepburn movie The African Queen that some tour operators have tried to claim it was filmed here. It's stunning either way.
Go rambling in a secret valley
For years, only a few visitors at a time were allowed to come to Akkaya Valley – privately owned land only 40 minutes from Dalyan where storks and white-tailed eagles soar above the Indus River. It’s now open to the public via tour company Volkan’s Adventures.
Pamper yourself at a natural spa
Turkey’s most beautiful canyon is also one of the world’s deepest. It's 300m down to the bottom of the gorge within Saklikent National Park, which is filled with mineral-rich mud. Icy water runs through it, serving as both a plunge pool and reprieve from the sauna-like heat. Go at 8am to slather yourself in privacy.
Try some home cooking
Little is imported on the Turquoise Coast, where residents make full use of the local harvest. In Islamlar, restaurants are famous for their fresh trout, fished from the nearby rivers. Sample it at Bodamya Tepe, which serves its catch of the day alongside incredible views of the Taurus Mountains.
Head to the beach
Dalaman has some gorgeous beaches, such as Patara where sea currents inject cool water into the bay for maximum refreshment. While beaches this pretty can often fall victim to their own popularity, Patara is among the longest in Turkey, meaning you’ll find a spot to lay your towel in peace.