This coast of Turkey is full of bays, big and little, most occupied by old and new villages and towns where northern Europeans such as ourselves, go to seek out the sun, sea and sand. Our last visit to the area was for a week in the wonderful old Greek fishing village of Kalkan. Our latest was for a week in a hotel in Turunc, at the end of a week aboard a gulet, cruising around the coast. We were hoping for a similar experience but the two resorts turned out to be as different as chalk and cheese.
Turunc (pronounced Tooroonch; the "c" is actually a "c" with a cedilla underneath it but Dooyoo can't handle that) is reached by a single road from Marmaris, which climbs up one of the steepest, winding roads I have ever seen. The road climbs around a vertical kilometre and from the top, as you pass over to the Turunc side, you get the most amazing views of the bay and the town. The journey from Marmaris takes about 40 minutes by taxi and about an hour by dolmus.
As you travel around this area you will see beside the road hundreds of small white and blue boxes. These are bee hives. This area is renowned for the production of honey, which you will find on sale everywhere, gallons and gallons of it. Consequently, everywhere in this area you will be accompanied by bees... and wasps... and hornets, in fact stinging things of every kind. Be warned, there's no getting away from them, anywhere. Having said that, we never had any problems with them although one bee did try to sting me but stung the towel instead!
So: Turunc. Well, Kalkan it isn't. If you're looking for character, you've come to the wrong place. It is clear that Turunc has evolved rather than been planned. There is a complete mish-mash of building styles, mostly having been built, I would guess, within the last 50 years, with the majority of the expansion having taken place in the last 10 or so, to cater for the influx of guests.
There is really just one main street where you find bars, nightclubs and shops. Squashed between this street and the beach are the majority of restaurants, all sea-facing. Many of these restaurants are within a hotel but are open to non-residents as well. On the road, at the centre of the town, you will also find most of the ATMs, should you run out of money and need to re-finance. An actual bank though, I did not find. There is here, however, the Post Office.
On the other side of the main street, on the roads leading away from the beach, are yet more bars and restaurants. As in normal, these tend to be rather cheaper than those situated by the beach; it is to be expected that you pay a bit of a premium for a sea-view.
The beach is typical of what you will find throughout this region: a fairly narrow strip, about three or four sunbeds deep and made up primarily of coarse, dark brown sand and fine shingle. It probably wouldn't be uncomfortable enough to require swimming slippers were it not for the occasional rocks poking through the surface, especially in the sea. The in-shore area is separated from the outer bay by a floating rope that extends the whole length of the beach, and ensures that boats do not impinge upon the swimming area.
The beach has sun-loungers and parasols set out along its length, wherever there are restaurants and hotels at the back of the beach. These are available to customers. Elsewhere the beach is open and anyone using these areas will have to bring their own furniture.
We did use the beach on the section by our hotel but found the equipment old and rickety; we only used it once, spending the rest of the time around the hotel pool. By the looks, the furniture outside the bars and restaurants closer in to town seemed generally in better condition.
At the southern end of the beach a creek enters the town and crossing it on a small pedestrian bridge, you enter the harbour area. This area consists of a wide concrete promenade at which is moored the dolmus ferries that can take you around the coast to Icmeler and Marmaris and the fun boats for a day out to eat drink and swim or to visit places like the Dalyan River. The latter we did, paying the local Anatolian Sky rep £44 for the two of us, which included a taxi to the boat. To be honest, we had not realised that the boat went from Turunc Harbour but had expected to be taken somewhere by coach first. Had we realised we probably would simply have walked down to the harbour and arranged it ourselves.
The harbour area is also where many of the tourist shops are found, the rest being mostly on the main street running through the town. The shop next to the police station (!) advertised "Real Fakes" and prices "Cheaper... than shoplifting"! As this is a Muslim country, shoplifting is definitely not to be recommended!
Just before you cross over the bridge there is a stall on the beach where some guys can provide you with water-borne sports, should you be so inclined. My wife had always wanted to try water-skiing and, for 80TL (£30) she had an introductory lesson. She was very successful and the guy teaching her was very encouraging. We both snow ski and, apparently, that help. However, be aware that they would not be allowed to operate as they do, in the UK. UK regulations require two instructors in the boat: one to steer; one to instruct.
In the week we were in Turunc we didn't even get close to trying every restaurant. We were staying at our hotel B&B so we needed to find somewhere for both lunch and our evening meal, as we didn't want to eat at the hotel for other than breakfast (I will separately review the hotel, when Dooyoo makes the category available for suggestions). As no restaurant is further away than a 10 minute walk, this is no problem.
These are a few of the restaurants worthy of comment:
By far our favourite restaurant was ~Surmen~ on the beach front. We ate there twice for lunch and once for dinner. Food there was about the best we had anywhere in Turunc and the quantities generous. For our first lunch we ordered a mixed meze each and one hot starter, as that was right elsewhere we had eaten. Mistake! We struggled to finish it. Dinner was excellent and also generous. A bottle of the house wine (Villa Doluca) accompanied all meals; lunch under £20; dinner around £45. What I really liked was that it was one of the few places that published their exchange rate on a clearly displayed notice, and a decent rate as well.
~Fidan~ is also on the beach front and specialises as a fish restaurant, although all of the restaurants serve fish, as would be expected. We had lunch there and also dinner one night. Food there is good and the surroundings attractive. For the evening meal we chose from their cold cabinet of a selection of different types of fish. In the end we chose a huge Gilthead Bream to share, as it was far too big for one person. A delicious fish, well cooked. Fidan is the most expensive restaurant at which we ate and, to be honest, although we enjoyed eating there it really wasn't good value. Lunch - £30; dinner - £75.
~Oba 09~ Strange name but a good restaurant and one of the closest ones to our hotel. The only real issue was the wind blowing down the alleyway between the restaurant and the next building; unless you were away from it it tended to be a blustery experience! The restaurant is popular so getting a less exposed table can be a problem. However, an enjoyable evening meal there cost us just £35, really good value.
~Pasha~ This restaurant is right at the back of the town so doesn't attract the premium for a sea-front location. As Friday night is Curry night at home, and because we had missed out on our traditional curry on the gulet, we came here because it advertised "Indian" curries. Really enjoyed our meal there although I would say that in my opinion the Lamb Rogan Josh was a tad on the hot side. However, be that as it may, we would have gone back again, had time permitted, maybe this time to try their Turkish dishes. Dinner £40.
~Han~ We had lunch here one day. Notable for a misunderstanding over the wine: ordered a bottle of white and two glasses; they came back with two glasses of white wine! Enjoyable lunch nevertheless and reasonable value at £25.
~Cinar~ The other restaurant at which we ate, situated at the main cross-roads in town, opposite the ATMs, which is just as well because it was the one restaurant that didn't accept cards. An enjoyable lunch and, once again, good value at £25, not attracting the sea-front premium. The street here is not too busy so didn't detract from the experience.
~Cardak~ In my opinion, one to avoid. Situated on the harbour, next to the police station and opposite the white statue, it seemed to be frequented almost exclusively by smokers and football families. The food was average; the surrounding not particularly attractive; we just happened to be there at lunch time on the first day. At £18, lunch was cheap but then it needed to be. There are far better choices.
~Serife's Kitchen~ I mention this one although we never got an opportunity to eat there. It is right next to Pasha's and was recommended to us by the rep. Apparently it is true "Home Cooking": the restaurant seems to be set in someone's front garden and meals cooked in a family kitchen. Limited number of tables but seems popular. Could be Turunc's equivalent of Kalkan's Moonlight.
Despite not being what could by any stretch of the imagination be described as a captivating location, we thoroughly enjoyed our week in Turunc. The people were extremely friendly and did everything possible to make our stay a pleasure. So long as you recognise what Turunc is offering and don't expect too much, I would strong recommend a holiday here.
Turunc is a small, idyllic bay nestled into its own nook a stones throw away from its bigger sisters Ichmeler and Marmaris. While Marmaris, and more recently Ichmeler, cater for the 18-30 crowd or for those who prefer all inclusive package holidays, Turunc is an entirely different world with a slow pace, gentle nightlife and friendly local people who are nearly all members of the two main families in Turunc.
Turunc is easily reached by road over a mountain and this offers the most extraodinary view of endless deep blue sea meeting a charming village surrounded snugly on three sides by green and lush mountainsides. It takes about 15 minutes to descend the mountain into the village itself, each twist of the road allows you another view of this stunning scene.
Turunc isn't for everybody. It doesn't have a raucous nightlife, in fact it recently adopted its one and only nightclub which is situated in a large hotel on its own beach adjacent to the village. It only has a smattering of bars ranging from sedate and quaint places to enjoy a chilled efes (the local beer) to one or two louder bars which are mostly full of the younger turkish residents rather than crowds of English. It does however have a large selection of good restaurants, all serving local dishes to a high standard. Prices vary depending on location (either beachfront or main street). For good food at a very affordable price check the Jan restaurant on the main street, for higher prices but better views check out the resaurants by the harbour.
If you do want to partake in a bit of extra nightlife it is easy to get a bus or water taxi to nearby Marmaris or Ichmeler alternatively get chatting with the locals and join them on one of their nights out.
You will be hard pushed to find a package holiday to turunc, however there are numerous apartments for rent through the internet and one site www.jmturkey.com, are based in the resort and offer competitive prices and very helpful service. Flights to Dalaman are run by most major airlines and can be very affordable particularly in low or mid season. You can either hire a car to drive from Dalaman to Turunc, get a coach to Marmaris and then a Dolmus (minibus) or water taxi to the resort, or my personal favourite - splash out for a private transfer to Turunc which again can be organised online. Once there, settle back, relax and enjoy a relatively unspoilt turkish location and the fabulous people that work and live in the town.