Kekova - Turkey's Spectacular Sunken City

The Turkish coastline boasts many beautiful spots but Kekova is one of my favourites. From the narrow streets and ruins of nearby Simena to the picturesque mosque in Ucagiz and the underwater cities at Kekova, it is a region I find truly magical.

Kekova refers to both the island and the region. Some will also refer to the underwater ruins as Kekova. The island, Kekova, is an uninhabited island from which ancient civilisations have tumbled into the sea as a result of earthquakes. Twenty years ago strict restrictions on swimming in the area were introduced to protect the ruins but these have all since been lifted or relaxed and it is now possible to swim, snorkel and dive in the area. It is across a channel, and visible, from nearby Kalekoy (referred to as Simena). Kekova can be visited by boat or kayak. The water here is beautifully warm between July and September. It is crystal clear and usually possible to see the building remains, stairs and columns that rest on the seabed from a boat on the surface but the best way to get a really good look is to snorkel.

View towards Kekova from Simena Castle, Turkey

Just across the water, Simena is a larger island with a permanent population. It was a Lycian settlement and has some ancient sunken ruins of its own along the water’s edge. The narrow streets are a pleasure to navigate, with friendly faces at every turn, and small cafes and shops along the way. 

Simena Carpet lady outside her shop, Turkey

A particular favourite of mine is a carpet shop, just off the path up to the castle, run by a village woman who proudly shows visitors her wall of celebrity client photos. She also has a magnificent showroom that opens onto views of the village and sea. It is definitely worth climbing to the castle ruins at the peak. High above town the views are spectacular. The castle ruins are interesting to explore and there is also an ampitheatre and several ancient tombs to admire.

Simena Ampitheatre, Turkey

In the summer Kekova gets busy with daytrip visitors. Many gulet trips sailing along the coast pull in at Kekova and Simena for a few hours too. Somehow it never seems crowded though. Being accessible by boat only probably limits the hordes of visitors that invade other parts of the coastline during the summer months. 

Lycian tombs above Simena Village, Turkey

Many visitors to the Kekova region arrive by boat but it is also possible to get as far as nearby Ugaciz by road and then just make a short (five minute) boat transfer to Kekova and Simena. Ugaciz is a sleepy little settlement with a lot of boats moored in front of town. There is a sweet little mosque that stands out as you approach by sea that is worth a look if you have time. On the road into town there are often beekeepers selling local honey, which is beautiful, so buy some if you see them!

Ucagiz Mosque, Turkey

Have you ever visited an underwater city? 

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