The Turkish novelist, ethnographer and travelogue Cevat Şakir Kabaağçlı, known by his pen-name of the Fisherman of Halicarnassus, famously said, "See Rome to Die, See Gökova to live."
Gökova is a holiday-makers paradise. Home to wonderful fresh fish, golden sand beaches, a warmth of hospitality unmatched anywhere else and an architecture that immediately identifies it as Gökova. But there's another thing that sets Gökova apart from just about anywhere else on Earth: the incredible coves surrounding it on the Gulf of Gökova.
The best way, and often the only way, to explore these coves is by taking a Blue Voyage - a boat that lets you hop out and swim in the pristine turquoise waters of each cove, or that drops you off as you explore the history and natural beauty found only in that one special spot. It's also the inaccessibility of these coves that keep them so pristine. Some of the following feel like you're the first human to ever to set foot on them, so without further ado, here's the 10 greatest coves you'll find in the Gulf of Gökova!
10- Zeytinli Cove
This is one of the most popular coves in the gulf, due to its proximity opening up onto the sea. And, of course, the beautiful pale blue color the sea takes here. When you come, you'll see one or two private yachts anchored here with owners dining on board or swimming in the sea.
9- Kandilli Cove
While this cove doesn't have any sand, it makes up for it in lush greenery along the shore as you swim in pristine blue waters. The sea is calm and lovely and you'll feel like you're swimming where nobody's swum before.
This cove also has no sand (despite it's name) but is set amidst rocks, making the sure the sea is clean, clear and beautiful. There's even a few sunbeds set amidst the trees, with a picnic table or two as well for anyone who plans on spending the day. Cars can't reach the cove, which makes it all the more private - it's just boats here. The beach is, however, reasonably close to the nearby village of Çamlı, which is famous for its golden sands and beautiful beaches (and thus the name of the cove). Incekum Cove's waters sparkle with the color of turquoise, and really is a great spot to stop off for lunch before continuing your journey.
The name for this cove comes from the deep blue color of the sea. Boat trips are made regularly from Akyaka, and it makes for a nice break from the usual turquoise waters. There are caverns to explore all around the cove and adventure-seekers may want to try to climb some of the rocks and jump off into deep blue waters that remind you of the wine-dark sea more than some of the white sand beaches you see in this stunning gulf.
6- Akbük Cove
Akbük Cove is in a class by itself along the Gulf of Gökova. It's a little slice of peace, silence, and calm amidst clear blue waters. This pristine cove sits on the northern side of the gulf, and there are even a few small restaurants and a little pier waiting for you. Another thing that sets Akbük apart is its proximity to the history of the region, with the ancient city of Caria just around the corner and from the cove itself you can walk to the ruins of Keramos nearby. It's also accessible by car, along the coast of Akyaka or from the town of Ören 20 kilometers away. It's still easiest to arrive by boat, the roads are hardly highway-quality, but if a boat is out of the question then Akbük may well be the cove for you. It's better developed than a lot of places, and even has camp grounds or small hostels to stay at.
5- British Cove
The British Cove, also sometimes referred to as the British harbor, is located right in between the Datça peninsula and the Bodrum Peninsula in the Gulf of Gökova. It sits right in the shade of the surrounding pine trees, making the waters all the more cool and refreshing. The waves of the gulf never reach the cove and the water shimmers of turquoise as reeds bop up and down in the water. As the water never runs, you can touch the loose muddy seafloor and the cove is technically a fjord, one of the two in all of Turkey. There are two related stories regarding where the cove's name derives from. The first is from World War I, wherein supposedly a ship belonging to the British navy was fleeing either Russian or German foes and discovered this hidden paradise. The ship hid out and was left undiscovered, known only to the locals who never alerted the enemy. The second story is similar, as ships belonging to the British navy were known to lay anchor in this cove. They were known to attack German ships in open waters and then retreat to the cove where they felt they were safe from detection, with tree tops sheltering them from sight, even from the planes flying overhead.
4- Boncuk Cove
Glass beads form an important part of Turkish craftsmanship, with "evil eye" glass beads culturally important. The blue of those beads is said to represent the water at this cove, all the more so for how the light shimmers off its clear waters.
3- Küfre Cove
The Gulf of Gökova features a set of 7 islands, and the Küfre cove lies on the north east of these islands. Surrounded by pine trees, the natural surroundings are stunning as water flows into the sea and you can swim, admiring the islands that surround you.
2- Cleopatra Island
Cleopatra Island, also known as Sedir Island, is one of the better known of the coves around Gökova and lies just 16 kilometers north of Marmaris. It features both golden sand beaches and a protect area of white-sand beach, with stunning turquoise waters. The walls of the ancient city of Cedrae like all around the island, along with an ancient theater. The name of the cove comes from the belief that Cleopatra herself is said to have discovered the cove and gone for a swim due to its breathtaking picturesque beauty. Moreover, the beautiful sands are said to have been brought directly by ships from North Africa, as white sand of this variety can only be found in Egypt.
1- Çınar Cove
Çınar takes the cake for a number of reasons. First of all, it's walkable from the town of Gökova, making it easily the most accessible while still feeling remote due to the lack of cars or signs of modern technology. The bright pink Oleander flowers are so high that you can relax in the shade of the beach under the most beautiful flowers of the Mediterranean. The seaside itself is full of colorful stones and seashells to collect. The sea is clean and not overly deep, allowing you to wade comfortably into its cool beauty. There's a small restaurant, toilet and telephone for convenience. A cool spring lies nearby, out of which you can bathe in ice-cold waters and even drink as you approach its source.