Cool, turquoise water, a dazzling sun in the sky, warm air on bronzed skin and natural beauty as far as the eye can see. That’s probably the best way to describe my first introduction to Cirali, Turkey. About an hour or so drive from Antalya airport, this little gem is definitely worth a visit.
Winding down along a dust road that twists and turns through deep-rooted forest, you know you’re venturing beyond where the hoards of tourists have dared to tread. And there it is – embraced, as if protected, by pine-clad, rocky hills – a long, unspoiled curve of a beach where coarse sand and sun-bleached pebbles meet the glittering, indigo Mediterranean. You’ll find some kayaks for hire, a few sun loungers and hand-made wicker parasols dotted along the beach, but for the most part, nature is the main attraction here. We spent most of our days frolicking in the cool waters, taking in the dramatic scenery and, of course, enjoying an ice-cold rosé or two under the shade of an umbrella.
While taking it easy has it’s perks, there is also a lot more to do if you’re up for some adventure. One of my favourite experiences was spending the day on one of the local boats. This one was a large yacht run by locals. They even caught fish and prepared a barbecue lunch for us as we floated peacefully on a perfectly still ocean. The day was spent sailing in and out of secret coves along the coastline and anchoring at different spots so we could dive in to the cool water and swim to our hearts’ content. Bliss.
If you’re up for a bit of exploring, you can take a walk to the ancient ruins of Olympos, or hike your way up the hillside to discover the fascinating, if not eerie, phenomenon that is Chimaera: a hill of constantly burning fires. Named by ancient Greek explorers after a mythological monster, these flames have been going strong for a very long time. You must go at night, and witness the wonder of bright flames spurting out of rocky crevices against the mighty backdrop of an endless starlit sky. No-one knows how it is that they keep going exactly, and it’s this mystery, along with the dramatic beauty of it all, that makes this a spectacular find.
The food? Great! You’ll have plenty of choice with several cafes and outdoor family-run restaurants, all serving freshly cooked Turkish food, from wholesome stews to delicious home-made bread. For those who prefer a little taste of home, there are a few familiar favourites like pizza, pasta and home-made chips as well.
So, where to stay in Cirail, Turkey? We chose to stay at Canada Hotel. It’s a lovely family-run hotel, close to the beach and village centre. Whether it’s cooling off in the swimming pool while taking in the striking beauty of the surrounding mountains, or relaxing with a book on one of the hammocks under the shade of the beautiful trees, this hotel has everything you need, and at a great price.
Thinking of taking a summer holiday in Cirali? Do it! Just remember to pack your sunscreen, some shoes or flip flops for the pebble beach, a good hat and an appetite for adventure…