Simena Castle with a Gulet Cruise: Must-see destination in Mediterranean Turkey
If you have ever wanted to visit this magical corner of Turkey, known for the historical sights of Simena Castle and the Sunken City of Kekova, look no further. Hop on a gulet cruise to experience the majesty of both attractions. Private yacht charters, weekly gulet cruises, and smaller day trip boats can be found anchored around the island of Kekova and the nearby coastal village of Simena (modern-day Kalekoy), home to the magnificent Simena Castle. Many of these boats anchor for the day and passengers spend warm summer afternoons swimming in the clear water before riding ashore to Simena and attempting the steep hike up to the castle. Simena dates back to the 4th century BC and neighbours the charming village of Ucagiz. It is a very special experience to travel this area by gulet, the bays are sheltered and calm and serve as an ideal stopover for boats of any size.
Simena is most commonly reached by boat but can also be accessed on foot via nearby Ucagiz. Simena Castle was built during the Byzantine period by the Knights of Rhodes and is a well-preserved highlight of ancient Lycia. The walk to the top is steep and winds up a cobbled path lined with homes and shops filled with hand-made souvenirs. The climb is challenging but rewarding as the views from this dominant point are absolutely stunning. The turquoise water shimmers and is sprinkled with yachts headed both east towards Olympos and west towards the harbour town of Fethiye. Inside of the castle, a small amphitheatre with a capacity of approximately 300 people can be found and provides evidence that this was a minor settlement during Roman times.
At the bottom of the village, there are seaside cafes serving delicious Turkish food and fresh locally caught fish. If you are visiting Simena by land, there are also a few options for comfortable and affordable lodging.
Kekova, The Sunken City
Easily accessible by private yacht charter or cabin cruise, the Sunken City of Kekova is a unique destination along this yachting route. Known as Dolichiste during the Lycian era, Kekova island underwent various settlements, even following the earthquake that destroyed and sunk the town.
Kekova island is also a population day trip destination by boat from Kas, Demre, and Ucagiz. Although swimming is forbidden over the ruins, captains will slowly cruise just above the remains and passengers can take their time and admire from above. Swimming is permitted further west and tourists can snorkel close by the remains of a partly submerged Byzantine chapel.
Other Lycian Highlights of the Area
This part of Turkey is filled with ruins and thousands of Lycian sarcophagi can be found in the area. From Ucagiz, other ancient Lycian towns such as Isinda and Trysa can be easily explored. Ucagiz is a protected village and development is off-limits, preserving its quaint qualities and historical atmosphere. The village becomes very quiet at night once tourists return to their tour buses and gulets, making it an ideal place to spend a calm and relaxing evening.
However, it is hard to beat the experience of sleeping on a gulet that is anchored in one of the secluded bays of this region. With Yacht Charter Turkey, sleeping on deck beneath the stars while being slowly rocked to sleep by the evening waves is the perfect ending to a day filled with sun, swimming, and steep climbs to sensational views.