Ölüdeniz is one of the most photographed beaches on the Mediterranean and I can virtually guarantee you have seen it many times gracing the cover of a glossy magazine. Ölüdeniz is a picturesque resort on the southwest coast of Turkey in the province of Muğla, on the Turquoise Coast at the conjunction point of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. It is located 14 km (9 mi) to the south of Fethiye and the total area size is 3,059 km².
It’s known for the blue lagoon of Ölüdeniz Tabiat Parkı and the wide, sandy white Belcekız Beach. Overlooking the village is the Babadağ Mountain and this is where Paragliders take a leap of faith and take to the sunny blue skies as its long been regarded as one of the world’s top places to indulge in this sport. The Lycian Way is a long-distance marked footpath which starts in Ölüdeniz and has wonderful coastal views. To the south, you will find Butterfly Valley which is a nature reserve with a delightfully secluded bay. Ölüdeniz is one of Turkey‘s most famous beaches. A beautiful cobalt blue lagoon sweeps around on its seaward side into a vast crescent of coarse pale sand and pebble beach, all framed by a spectacular backdrop of pine forests and mountains. The sheltered lagoon beach is made up of thousands of tiny pebbles and the warm, calm waters are ideal for children, who delight in chasing shoals of fish through the shallows. This lagoon area is not visible from the open sea, is very sheltered and is a national park (where new building is strictly prohibited). The resort began with a handful of camping sites hidden amongst the olive groves along the beachfront. As the resort developed with its ever-growing popularity, more up-market hotels and restaurants are appearing, but due to the local building restrictions it has still retained its natural beauty.
Ölüdeniz is famous for its shades of turquoise and aquamarine, is an official blue flag beach and is frequently rated among the top 5 beaches in the world by travellers and tourism journals alike. The village and the beach by the lagoon was locally known as Belcekız or Belceğiz before the area became a popular tourist resort, today many people in the area have no idea what Belcekız is and the town, as well as the lagoon, are both known as Ölüdeniz, which translates to “dead sea” and originally referred only to the lagoon itself. Head inland 2km and to the north from Ölüdeniz, are the popular resorts and villages of Ovacık and Hisarönü. Ovacik is a friendly village which is spread out across the valley and offers peaceful residential living, with wonderful views and a nice village centre with many local amenities. You can enjoy the mountains, pristine beaches, walking, cycling, and water sports, off-road driving, paragliding, sailing, diving and much more, all within the local area. The lively Hisaronu village centre is where you can head to for a vibrant day or evening out should you wish to dance and enjoy live music pubs and clubs and you can also catch a Dolmus minibus to Fethiye city centre within 15 minutes and Calis beach within 10 minutes so as you can see the area of Ölüdeniz is well placed for sightseeing in the region.
During the peak season in May to October, Ölüdeniz is filled with tourists. It is a popular holiday destination and many foreigners have invested in holiday homes there, the 300 days of sunshine is a massive draw and with wonderful beaches and beautiful scenery who can blame them! There is plenty to do here including Paragliding and if this is something you want to try then head there. A number of specialised companies offer paragliding opportunities from the summit of nearby Mt. Babadağ which is about 1,900mt from the sea elevation. A “trip” from the top to the beach takes around an hour and offers panoramic views of the Blue Lagoon and the valleys and mountains which are covered with pine forests. Training and tandem flights are also possible for those inexperienced at paragliding and would rather not go solo, to begin with.
For the authentic market, experience hop on the Dolmus (local bus) and visit the market in Fethiye on a Tuesday. There is absolutely everything there. It is a very busy market not only used by holidaymakers but by locals buying their weekly shopping. Go to the fish stalls, buy some fresh fish and then go to one of the nearby restaurants where for a few TL they will cook it for you. You can buy everything here including fresh fruit and vegetables, olives, eggs, cheese, bread, olive oil, spices, nuts, clothes, pot and pans, you name it you can probably buy it and it’s a fraction of what you would pay in the supermarket. Boat tours are also popular but if you prefer taking a boat out yourself there are several companies along the beach that offer rental of a small motorboat for a few hours. This is a fantastic way to explore the small coves and beaches around the area without having to join one of the larger tour boats that follow a regular route. As you would expect there is water sports including scuba and snorkelling, river rafting and tubing, horseback riding, tennis and other sports.
There is a good selection of cafes, bar and restaurants which cater to everyone’s needs. Bars can be cosy and quiet or upbeat and lively but the nightlife is not full on here. Lunch menus include doner wraps of either lamb or chicken with salad or ask for a pide which is charcoal baked and is similar to a pizza it comes with a variety of toppings and is utterly delicious. There are local traditional Turkish dishes including kebabs, mezes and salads and the Mediterranean is home to black and green olives, aubergine and the very sweet dessert of Baklava. For an international menu opt for British, American, Italian, Chinese, Mexican or Indian. Portions in all the restaurants are more than ample, if you have children you can ask for a child’s portion. Seafood is a speciality in Turkey and you can sample a whole range of fresh locally caught fish it’s usually served with salad and crusty bread. You can wash all that down with a selection of good wines, local beer or Raki.
After dinner, you can watch the sunset with a favourite tipple and then dance under the stars, head to one of the popular beachfront bars. Nightlife here tends to revolve around the restaurants and bars that turn into dancing venues after meals have been served for the evening. Some have party nights, themed nights and guest DJs with live music they normally close around 2 am if that is too early for you then the liveliest resort in the region is Hisaronu on the hill just a few minutes bus ride from Oludeniz. Here is where you will find the majority of late night drinking and dancing where the bars, restaurants and nightclubs have live music where you can dance the night away until daybreak. Fethiye is also where you can find a more varied nightlife; the promenade along the harbour front is full of new restaurants and bars, some playing live music normally traditional in style, local Turkish and folk music plus a few tunes we all know and love, just follow the music and a good night will be had by all.
Ölüdeniz remains one of the most photographed beaches on the Mediterranean.