Kaş – Antalya – Turkey
Western Point Lighthouse
Light : Fl(2) 5s 55m 8M
GPS : 36°10’18.0″N 29°50’36.0″E / 36.171667, 29.843333
Kekova, also named Caravola (Lycian: Dolichiste), is a small Turkish island near Demre (Demre is the Lycian town of Myra) district of Antalya province which faces the villages of Kaleköy (ancient Simena) and Üçağız (ancient Teimioussa). Kekova has an area of 4.5 km2 (2 sq mi) and is uninhabited.
Kekova is the name of a region of fascinating islands, bays and ancient cities. Kekova has a rarely seen attraction: along the shore of the Island, a sunken city can be observed. The geological movements of the Island caused the city on the Island to submerge, creating a strange scene with half of the city under water and half above. Teimiussa and Simena are the main Lycian settlements in the area. Kekova is the only area where the flying fish can be watched in this region.
On its northern side there are the partly sunken ruins of Dolchiste / Dolikisthe, an ancient town which was destroyed by an earthquake during the 2nd century. Rebuilt and still flourishing during the Byzantine Empire period, it was finally abandoned because of Arab incursions. Tersane (meaning “dockyard”, as its bay was the site of an ancient city Xera and dockyard, with the ruins of a Byzantine church) is at the northwest of the island.
The Kekova region was declared a specially protected area on 18 January 1990 by Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forest. All kinds of diving and swimming were prohibited and subject to special permits from governmental offices. In later years the prohibition has been lifted except for the part where the sunken city is.
The Kekova region is 260 km2 (100 sq mi) and encompasses the island of Kekova, the villages of Kaleköy and Üçağız and the four ancient towns of Simena, Aperlae, Dolchiste and Teimioussa. Beyond its cultural features, Kekova shows very significant geological formations: an undulated coastal line, hydrobiological features and the sheer scenic beauty of the area.
Kekova Island is known as the sunken city; as you cruise along the island’s landward shore, you’ll look down through the crystal clear water at the ruins of houses and other buildings of the Byzantine city that ran along the slope. Victim to an earthquake, this city extends to and then beneath the shoreline.
An island of the type that everyone fantasises always, that’s Kekova. This area of the coast is dotted with uninhabited islands with ruins that are over 3000 years old. Most impressive is the Sunken City, a Lycian city submerged under water. Kekova is the largest island on the Lycian Coast and is an earthly paradise. It has a small harbor with wooden wharves, simple stone houses, vines, fig trees, a couple of bars by the sea, and incredible carpet shops. The island has a medieval fortress and and an amazing amount of Lycian sarcophagi are scattered across its arid slopes.
The remains of the settlement with the same name as the island are seen on the northern side which faces the mainland. The island sank a few metres during an earthquake in antiquity. The remains of buildings seen under the sea, along the northern shore of the island, confirm this. Following the earthquake, the survivors moved to the sister cities of Simena and Teimiussa on the shore across the island.
As one approaches by boat the side of the island of Kekova which faces the mainland, one sees the harbour walls, shops, sidewalks and stone steps of the Sunken City under the sea. Half-sunken houses are also seen. The remnants of the apse of a Byzantine church, built in the 5th century A.D. by Orthodox missionaries to spread Christianity in Lycia, of square plan and embellished with frescoes are seen on the shore of the Bay of Tersane.
The island that gives its name to the area is in front of the village of Kaleköy and it is accessible by boat. It is a long and narrow island measuring 7.4 km long by 500 metres wide, at its section closest to the shore. The deepest point between the island and the shore is 104 metres. The island is covered with maquis and red pine trees are found at certain places. Wild olive trees are the most abundant vegetation on the island where there is also a spring.
There are two good anchorages on the island :
GPS : 36°10’19.8″N 29°50’46.8″E / 36.172167, 29.846333
Location Satellite Map
Tersane or Xera is a tiny, well-sheltered cove on the NW side of Kekova Island. If you can find room in this cove, which is packed with tripper boats during the season, you can anchor in 4-5 metres and take a line ashore to either side. The bottom is sand and rock and provides good holding. There are a couple of ropes tied through holes in the rocks on either side of the inlet which can be used to take a stern line. However, tripper boats come and go all day from around 09:00 up until 20:00 or later and, since the daytime wind tends to blow down the inlet, lay their anchors to the wind while their clients go for a quick splash.
A cove on the northwest of Kekova Island, providing shelter for a few boats in prevailing winds. Boats drop anchor in 4 – 12 meters on the western part and take a line ashore. The settings among the anchient ruins are very attractive. When you walk among the ruins on the island, you can reach the open sea.
This means that if you have laid your chain across the inlet it will only be a matter of time before one of them snags your anchor. Effectively, this means that you need to arrive late and leave early – at least during the season. At its head, the cove is dominated by the collapsed arch of a Byzantine church. To the east of the cove, one can see many submerged ruins (Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine). Snorkeling here, in the crystal-clear water, is definitely worth your while, despite the endless procession of day-trip boats with glass bottoms and loudspeakers.
Even if you cannot find room to anchor in Tersane, you could possibly visit it from Kale Köy or Üçağız with the dinghy.
Tersane Bay is an excellent spot for swimming and snorkeling.