My boat is arriving at Iztuzu Beach, near Dalyan, when our skipper tells me to take a look beyond the deck.
Large turtles are swimming freely and I gaze up further to see a river estuary sweep around a spit of golden sand before joining the azure Mediterranean, with boats heading out to sea.
It's a nesting site for loggerhead turtles here hence its other name, Turtle Beach. The hatching season is May to June, with around 100 eggs laid in each nest they dig in sands. Turtles aside, it's simply gorgeous anyway.
I've flown with Jet2 to Dalaman, Turkey, where fabulous beaches, mud baths, and excellent food pamper me for three days of sun-drenched relaxation.
Accommodation is super swanky, too, as I am spending my trip at the five-star Liberty Fabay hotel. It's a giant complex by the Karatas Beach, near Fethiye, with 12 outdoor pools, including two so long they would give Michael Phelps a decent workout. They're also divided into kids' and adult pools, with an aqua park to boot.
A short walk from there is a gorgeous stretch of sand with blue, super-comfy sun loungers. It's an experience the view from my hotel room balcony promised and more. It's all inclusive too, so I perch up by the pool and order a cold beer, dangle my feet in the water and catch the rays before dinner.
There are six restaurants to choose from here, with the handy addition of eight bars. My first choice was the Sarpedon Fish Restaurant, located on the beach front with a cool outdoor setting. I'm spoiled by a starter of garlic prawns and crisp calamari, before I tuck into some haddock, take a swig of my chardonnay and watch the sun set in the distance.
As if that wasn't relaxing enough, the spa centre is almost impossible to walk past without making an appointment. So I book a 30-minute kese (a scrubbing mitt) with coffee session at its Turkish Bath unit, a soothing, grey-tiled room with taps at the ready.
My session begins with my masseur rubbing in the lotion, then soap, followed by the relaxing sensation of cold and warm water in rotation. It's all so dreamy I'm tempted to spend my entire time here, sipping cocktails and enjoying its other treats like the ice cream and bakery shop. But I'm keen to delve into Turkey's rich history and explore the local coastline.
One of the best ways of doing this is through private boat tours that are readily available and would prove a be a real bargain if you're in a group of family or friends. It's how I spent much of my time exploring.
One gem is the dreamy boat ride along the green-tinged waters of the Dalyan River, which starts with a quick stop at the Dalyan Mud Baths. Upon arrival our tour guide, Tolga, tells me I need to start the process with a 10-minute dip in its thermal pool, before drying myself off and stepping into a pool of brown water. While it may seem a questionable practice at first, the results are anything but.
Dipping deep into the earth below, I scoop up some mud before covering my entire body – even, because everyone else is doing it, on my face. I allow the mud to turn an olive colour by drying in the sun, before showering it all off and, as promised, my skin feels completely refreshed.
I hop back on deck and it's a gorgeous 40-minute boat ride through the river all the way to Iztuzu Beach. We travel past tree-clad hillsides before we cast our gaze at riverside restaurants serving fish and cold beer. At one point, our boat comes to a stop and in the distance are the tombs of Kaunos Ancient City, with archeological evidence stretching back to 8th century BC.
It's a dramatic sight, with facades of carved pillars embedded into the hillside, also known as Tombs of the Kings. Our driver edged us closer in our boat for a better look before we set off on our travels again along the river.
The beach we finally arrive at, Iztuzu Beach, has the fabulous sensation of feeling like you've stumbled across a secret. Sand lilies, also known as sea daffodils that flower between July and October, line the paths as we head to the sand. It isn't too busy either, with swathes of more than 2.5mils of sand to explore.
On the way back, our tour guide hands me a bottle of locally grown frozen pomegranate juice. So I perch myself at the back of the boat, take a sip as it thaws and enjoy the clear blue sky as we make our return journey. It's my pick of the beaches in the area. I also visited Butterfly Valley, a semi-tropical desert canyon which is just as easy on the eye although better suited to a younger crowd, and Oludeniz, a resort village which is small but offers a lovely place to swim.
Spending so much time out in the water, it's little wonder I develop an appetite for some fish, which is handy when Turkey has a strong range of fancy restaurants offering just that.
We arrive at the Mori restaurant by the Fethiye Marina, which is worth visiting for the views alone. I can see fish swimming just yards away from me in the water lit by evening lamps, with boats lining the marina and a large, wooden floor accommodating outdoor diners.
I tuck into a delicious, smoky octopus starter with a separate plate of ceviche, before tucking into a T-bone steak and washing it down with some Suvla Merlot. Another seafood hotspot is the Yengec Restaurant, boasting a menu with a variety of fish you can choose to have pan-fried or grilled.
But my meal of the trip was a kebab, tucked away in a secret spot called Roots, in Kayakoy, near Oludeniz. Think kebabs, and it may conjure up images of being out at 1am looking to satisfy your boozy appetite. But this place shoots down those preconceptions and more, offering a vast range of flavours at decent prices.
I go for the Beyti Kebab, combining beef and lamb in six, separate wraps covered in yoghurt.
Without exaggeration, it is the best kebab I've ever had, mixing chilli, tomato sauce and garlic. The cool yoghurt goes perfectly with the warm meat, served with chips, rice and grilled peppers and tomatoes.
Tasty and not too expensive at a fiver – it just about sums up my stay in Turkey.
Jet2Holidays offers a seven-nights all-inclusive stay at the five-star Liberty Fabay hotel near Fethiye, Turkey, from £799 per person.
- Travel Advice
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