The first signs of spring always bring one thought to my mind – open water swimming season is nearly here. If like me, you like the warmer water, then an open water swim trip in one of the oldest countries in the world could be for you.
I spent the winter months back in the UK, dreaming about when I would next get to experience swimming in the warm turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.
Coronavirus – travel pause
As COVID-19 hit and most holidays got postponed or canceled, the thought of traveling abroad seemed like a distant memory. I have joined Strel Swimming trips as a guest every year since my first trip in 2017. Based on this fact, I remained optimistic that this holiday was going to happen. And I want to join in!
My previous Strel trips to Lake Powell, Slovenia, Croatia and Turkey have given me confidence in the organization. I always felt their safety and quality of the holidays were great. Having this in mind and seeing that swim trips would be running in September, I jumped at the chance to revisit the Turkish Lycian Coast.
Excellent guides and crew
On our first day of swimming our guides, Diane and George walked us from the hotel to our very own traditional Turkish gulet. We were welcomed by captain Osman and his wife Nimet. If you have been lucky enough to have joined this trip before you will know how hospitable and lovely they are.
Day one – Kas peninsula swimming
As we got settled in on the beautiful boat we headed out from the harbor and started getting ready for our first swim of the trip. George and Diane explained that we would be swimming around 2km along the Kaş peninsula. Each of them would be close by throughout to provide guidance, escort and support with drinks.
There was amazing energy and excitement on the boat as we jumped into the warm water and started swimming. One thing I enjoy the most about open water swimming is the chance to look around. I made sure to lift my head up often to take in the breathtaking surroundings.
Great lunches on the boat
Our boat anchored up at the end of the swim and we were welcomed by our boat crew with warm tea (Turkish caj) and snacks. We had a short break to relax before an incredible lunch was served of hot and cold meze. It is pretty common for guests to ask Nimet if she has a cookbook with her recipes because the food she cooks is so outstanding!
We had a nice long break after lunch with time to sunbathe, read or chat with other guests. That afternoon, we swam back along the peninsula into Kaş, arriving back in the afternoon. We finished our day with dinner at a local restaurant overlooking the harbor at sunset.
Day two – Island hopping swimming
I woke up feeling relaxed and ready for day two. We got down to the boat and it was perfect swimming conditions. We headed out to the twelve islands between Kaş and Meis in Greece.
Here we island-hopped through the most beautiful and bright blue water, swimming just under 3km before stopping for tea break and lunch in a small and secluded bay.
Our afternoon swim took us to Limanağzı Bay where we did our second swim along the mountainside. This was also our first turtle sighting of the week. We swam alongside ancient tombs carved into the cliffs which make a spectacular backdrop to the crystal clear water.
Day three – Bay swimming
On day three of swimming, we departed the marina for our first swim of the day at the beautiful Yalija Bay. We did two beautiful coastal swims and were all getting into a relaxing rhythm of morning and afternoon swims, long lunches, and lots of drinking caj in between.
Sunset dinner and drinks
That evening we took a short walk from the hotel for an evening swim at Big Pebble Beach where we watched the sunset over the Greek island of Meis.
We capped off the evening drinks and meze by a campfire on the beach while reflecting on what an incredible week it had been so far.
Day four – Aperlai ruins
Day four of swimming took us to Aperlai. A slightly longer boat ride gave us all the chance to relax and enjoy the sunshine before our morning swim over the sunken city.
This 2nd-century port town collapsed into the sea after an earthquake and there is no better way to experience the history than from the water.
Walking the Lycian Way
After lunch, we enjoyed a short walk on a section of the Lycian Way, a 540 km footpath along the coast of Turkey, before stopping at a local café for a nice cold drink.
Our afternoon swim was at the beautiful bay of Ufakdere. Our guide George jumped in and took the time to give each of us advice and feedback on our open water swimming.
George Taplin is a marathon swimmer himself. In July 2020 he completed a solo marathon swimming the 13 Lake District lakes in three days. He shared his own experiences with us on getting the most enjoyment out of open water swimming!
Day five – coastal swimming
Day five saw another guide Borut Strel joined the group for our final full day. We headed out in great spirits for a day of spectacular coastal swimming. We all learned some great tips and advice which our expert guides had given us throughout the week.
On the final morning we rounded off an incredible week with a swim down at the beach in Kaş before saying our goodbyes!
It is easy to say that Turkey has been firmly cemented as one of my favorite places in the world to go open water swimming.
Top things to do in Kaş town between swims
Incredible swimming is not the only thing on offer in this beautiful part of the world. There is plenty of time to explore the local sights and sounds after swimming each day! You can also opt to stay for an extra couple of days to enjoy all that Kaş has to offer.
1. Best restaurant
Oburus Momus offers a twist on local cuisine on a beautiful terrace by the harbor. Make sure to make a reservation before going as they get busy in the evenings. Alternatively, you can stop by for a snack and smoothie post swim (their chocolate tart alone will make it worth your time!)
2. Best beach
Big Pebble Beach is a short walk from town and offers a great spot to relax for the day. Sunbeds are available to rent for the day at a very affordable rate, along with restaurants and cafes for refreshments.
3. Best run or walk
If you enjoy running or walking, I recommend waking up early and going for a sunrise jog or walk around the peninsula. This 8-mile route offers spectacular views of Greece while watching the sunrise over Kaş.
4. Best for history
Take a short ten-minute walk out of town to see the breathtaking Kaş Antiphellos Theatre. This theatre was built in the 1st Century BC and is in excellent condition. Walk to the top for a beautiful view of Kaş and the coastline.
5. Best shopping and Turkish Pazar
No trip to Kaş is complete without taking some time to visit the boutique shops with local handcrafted Turkish towels, jewelry, and clothing. You can also visit a proper Turkish Pazar on Kas Friday market.
6. Best for turtle spotting
Head down to the harbor for some turtle spotting! They often spend time around the boats in the marina.
Turkey’s Lycian Coast is blessed with a warm and dry climate which makes it ideal for open water swimming trips. What better way to explore all the history, culture, and natural beauty that Turkey has to offer than from the crystal-clear water of the Mediterranean?
Swimming holidays in Turkey run from May through to October and I hope to see you there soon! I attended the trip in September 2020.