Explore The central and southern Aegean
There is more of interest and beauty in the rest of the Bodrum peninsula, and no matter how long or short your stay, time spent exploring it is well worthwhile. The north side of the peninsula tends to be greener, with patches of pine forest; the south, studded with tall crags, is more arid, with a sandier coast.
The population was largely Greek Orthodox before 1923 and villages often still have a vaguely Hellenic feel, with ruined churches, windmills and old stone houses. In recent years, waves of new villas have smothered much of the coast; though, having run out of cash, many of the building projects remain eerily abandoned. An exotic touch is lent by the ubiquitous, white-domed gümbets (cisterns) and by the camel caravans – not mere tourist photo ops, but working draught animals, especially during the off season.
There is also a relatively high concentration of serviceable beaches, with Bitez, Ortakent, Yalıkavak and Türkbükü, among others, currently holding Blue Flag status for cleanliness. Virtually every resort of any importance is served by dolmuş from Bodrum’s otogar.
Roughly 2km west of Bodrum on the peninsula’s south shore, GÜMBET is the closest proper resort to the town – indeed, almost a suburb – and its 600-metre, tamarisk-lined, gritty beach is usually packed, with parasailing, ringo-ing and waterskiing taking place offshore. Development here is exclusively package-oriented with large hotels and pansiyons – a hundred of them on the gradual slope behind, with more springing up – catering for the rowdy, mainly English, 18 to 30 crowd that has effectively claimed this bay. The nightlife is as transient as its clientele and rivals Bodrum in the number of bars and clubs, if not in the quality of its clientele.
BİTEZ (Ağaçlı), the next cove west, 10km from Bodrum, is a little more upmarket, and (along with Farilya) seems to have adopted Gümbet’s former role as a watersport and windsurfing centre. There are a number of reasonable watering holes for the yachties sailing or cruising through, but the beach is tiny, even after artificial supplementing.