Patara’s ancient ruins rise out of the windblown sand dunes like the lost Atlantis. It was once the most important city in Lycia as the major harbour and is known to be the birthplace of St Nicholas, or Santa, who later moved to Myra. But as you drive through the ancient city towards the coast, you emerge on a 13-mile stretch of sandy shore, lined with neat rows of sun loungers.
As one of the major exhibits of the Turkish Riviera, you can wade out a long way before reaching deeper waters, though frequent winds (delightfully refreshing on a red-hot July or August day) can bring in body-surfing sized regiments of waves. For a just few lira, you can hire out a lounger and parasol from one of the tanned surfer types, who will even brush the sand off for you.
But wander a little further down and you’ll probably find what Brit explorer Charles Fellows described as ‘no signs of life were visible but the footsteps of wolves, jackals and hares.’ The shoreline with the exception of the beach cafe, has escaped development designated as nesting ground for endangered loggerhead turtles.
Back in Kalkan we rounded off the day at the Korsan Fish Terrace, Kalkan – once described by the Sunday Times Travel Section as ‘one of the most fashionable watering holes on the coast’. The family behind this distinguished eaterie has a colourful past. In the 70s, the dynasty’s founder retired from the Navy an ex-colonel, looking for a change of pace. As a young man, this retired colonel had once been a member of Turkey’s first Rock ‘n’ Roll band and, soon fans, friends and visitors drawn by the former band member’s notoriety began to homage and before you know it, Kalkan’s heady tourism scene was born. Although there might be some bending of the truth, it is true that the restaurant remains at centre of local life – and it’s advisable to book a table in advance!