Olu Deniz, Turkey (review published 2005)


Imagine throwing yourself off a 2,000m high mountain and entrusting your life to a complete stranger.
Then imagine soaring with the birds as you and your ‘pilot’ dangle from a flimsy looking silk sheet over one of the world’s most beautiful lagoons.
I imagined it… and it scared me half to death.
So I decided to keep my feet firmly on the ground while holidaying in Olu Deniz on Turkey’s south-west coast.
The resort lies in the shadow of the Taurus mountains and has become a famous spot for tandem paragliding.
Every hour, dozens of daredevils take the leap of faith and some even go into spins on their 45-minute descent.
From the ground, they are barely visible at first but it’s quite a sight when the chutes of many colours come in to land.
You have to keep your wits about you, though, because the walkway between the shops / restaurants and the beach doubles as a landing strip.
Touchdown for a paraglider in front of the Belcekiz Beach hotel
Any chance I had of overcoming my fears were dashed by my Thomson rep who claimed that paragliders are killed every year in the resort.
She said the only safe way to enjoy the views was from a microlight. Plus,  she said, you get to see a lot more of the stunning coastline.
Whilst I was sold on the idea of a gentle take off, to me these lawn mowers with wings looked even scarier.
But you don’t have to take to the skies to enjoy the picture perfect Blue Lagoon, which is an important conservation area.
It’s well worth the 20-minute walk from the centre of Olu Deniz and the 50p entrance fee. The waters are calm and the shingle is much finer than at the main Belcekiz beach.
My wife and I went several times during our week and found the Lagoon to be just as popular with Turks as with tourists.
Blue Lagoon, Olu Deniz
We stayed at the Belcekiz Beach, which is the only beachfront hotel in Olu Deniz and just a two-minute walk to the small resort centre.
All guests stay on an all-inclusive basis and the bar and restaurant staff  were the most attentive and friendly we’d ever encountered. The hotel manager even kept diners entertained with magic tricks.
The Mediterranean-style holiday village is arranged in small, two-storey,  multi-coloured blocks set in spacious gardens.
The restaurant offers great  mountain views at breakfast and lunch but there’s also a poolside snack bar serving burgers, pizzas, sandwiches etc, for those who don’t want to change out of their swimwear.
There’s a pool bar and a dancing bar with sea views and you can help yourself  from the tea/coffee, fruit juice and water machines.
The hotel also boasts a small gym, Turkish bath, sauna, market and an amphitheatre for evening entertainment while for the children there’s a mini-club, playground and separate pool.
After the all-inclusive ended at midnight we chilled out with a cocktail at one of the bars halfway down the beach.
Belcekiz Beach hotel,  Olu Deniz
For a livelier night out there’s Hisaronu, a resort nestling in the pine-clad mountains 4kms away.
During the day, if you fancied a change from the pool or beach you can visit the traditional Turkish town of Fethiye, just 12kms and two euros away by dolmus.
Haggle in the bazaar, stroll the bustling harbour or explore 2,300-year-old rock tombs, the ruins of a roman amphitheatre and a Crusader castle.
Elsewhere, you can take a walking tour of the ghost town Kayakoy, deserted in  1923, or knock years off yourself at some mud baths.
And if you’re braver than me, you might also consider reaching for the skies for one of the most beautiful views on Earth.
It’s an unforgettable experience,  so I’m told.
Belcekiz Beach, Olu Deniz
We travelled with Thomson. For details of its Turkey holidays click here

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