The spindly, 50-mile-long Datça peninsula in Turkey’s Muğla province is a dagger of pure green at the meeting point of the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and is as unsullied as south-west Turkey gets. The ancient Greeks believed Datça to have been created personally by Zeus, so gorgeous are its rocky outcrops and aquamarine waters. The geographer Strabo apparently said: “God sent his beloved creatures to Datça for them to live longer.”
Although this backwater peninsula is wedged between moneyed Bodrum to the north, and overdeveloped Marmaris to the south, bad road access and its distance from airports have left it unspoilt. Tourists do come and stay in a new clutch of upmarket hotels, and city-dwelling Turks are buying second homes here, but most visitors still only make short stop-offs on gulet cruises.
The peninsula has coves, bays, and beaches in abundance. Sandy or shingly, they all share the same, alluring, crystalline turquoise waters. Often the water remains shallow for some distance offshore, making it safe for young children
Domuzbükü, which translates as ‘Pig Inlet’, is a lovely turquoise bay which can only be reached by boat. A favourite stop on the famous Blue Cruise, so find a gulet (yacht) to take you there.
Just 50 minutes to the south by boat from Datça town, Symi is the closest Greek island and makes for a winning day trip, partly because of the contrast between its neo-classical beauty and Datça’s rustic vibe. In the 19th century, the island flourished on sponge diving and boat building and many elegant homes were built. It’s a wonderful place for walking and discovering secret corners and houses with faded beauty. Boats leave from Datça town’s main harbour, or you can book a trip through any hotel.