For this day trip from Fethiye, although it is probably best described as an adventure, we needed the services of a boat and a skipper to get us to our remote destination, the ancient site of Lydae.

Our skipper for the day was Stuart who took us on his luxury cruising yacht the Sukran.

We met at 9.30 on a sunny May Saturday morning in one of the smaller exclusive pontoons in Fethiye bay.

The skipper was already making preparations when we arrived. We took off our shoes and walked the narrow paraselle and on to the Sukran to a warm welcome.

The May sun was already high in the sky as we sat under the bimini to make our plan for the day. The surrounding green waters were flat and like a mirror reflecting the hulls, masts and rigging of the impressive gulets that were moored nearby.

Gulets are luxury Turkish wooden yachts, like small boutique hotels, that carrying tourists from coastal resort to resort, anchor off in secluded coves and flit between the many marinas on offer along this beautiful stretch of the Turquoise Riviera. On offer is luxury berths, food and relaxation.

Set Sail

After our safety briefing our skipper gave the order and we set off out into the bay. To start we were under the power of the motor but once past the island of Sovalye and near to Red Island in Fethiye Bay it was up with the sails to catch the wind.

The skipper set a heading for the north west of Fethiye Bay, trimmed the sails and turned off the motor.

Under sail toward Lydae near Gocek, Turkey
Under sail toward Lydae near Gocek, Turkey

Now only under the power of the wind all that could be heard was the sound of the sea, the wind and our excited chatter.

As the sun warms the water the light airs build and we gently heel over a little as our speed increases.

Then the wind would drop off a little or dance around, so the skipper needs to follow it.

He said that this is normal for this time of day and the pattern is generally quite predictable. By the afternoon the winds would be more consistent and stronger.

It was a smooth sail and we made the whole trip without having to tack.

Drop the Hook

We dropped the sail and arrived in a small secluded cove. The sea was the most amazing turquoise and the water so calm and clear I could see fish, sea grass and more on the sea bed.

We dropped anchor and, after a bit of lunch, we prepared for our run ashore.

Skipper rowed us over in the yacht’s tender and we beached. We put on our walking shoes, waved goodbye and then set off along the well defined path.

On Dry Land

We climbed through a pine forest following the stony trail.

At one point the path turned to solid rock and we could see indentations had been cut into the rock to form grip, we think, for donkeys.

The path up to the ancient site of Lydae near Gocek, Turkey shows signs of work to imporve grip for pack animals
The path up to the ancient site of Lydae near Gocek, Turkey shows signs of work to improve grip for pack animals

As we climbed we caught wonderful glimpses of another bay below in which a gulet had moored up for the day.

A glimpse of a gulet moored in a back near Lydae, Gocek, Turkey
A glimpse of a gulet moored in a bay near Lydae, Gocek, Turkey

Lydae Ahead

Within 25 minutes the landscape opened out into a plain and we could see the remains of a temple before us. We had arrived at Lydae.

The ruins of the Tempel at Lydae
The ruins of the Temple at Lydae

An enterprising shepherd has set up a small shelter and tea stop at the top of the path no doubt to make a few Lira, but on the day we visited he was elsewhere.

As we had no guide book to follow we climbed to the top of the hill to look at the ruined temple and that also gave us a great vantage point in which to survey whole the site and work out a route.

A tablet lying on the ground at Lydae near Gockek, Turkey
A tablet lying on the ground at Lydae near Gocek, Turkey

We followed a goat path down the hill to a domed water cistern and took a peek inside. There was some water inside but not enough for the summer we think.

There are a few scattered farm steads in the valley and one had three donkeys tethered. The sound of the braying donkeys echoed around the valley just as it must have done for thousands of years.

Already in May the land was dry and grasshoppers popped around at our feet like confetti blowing in the wind.

More Exploring

Water would have been essential to support not only the existing inhabitants but also the ancient population who lived on the site.

But it was a shock when came across the main water reservoir. It was a large deep well but the cistern had no guard rails around so we were extra careful when looking in.

The size and construction is impressive and the remains of a small tower, that was perhaps used for raising the water, was still partially intact.

The impressive water cistern at the ancient site of Lydae near Gocek, Turkey
Take care! The impressive water cistern at the ancient site of Lydae near Gocek, Turkey

And even more remarkable is that this piece of ancient architecture is still in use today as evidenced by a large black plastic water pipe feeding from the side of it.

We then found some other places of interest. The local Cami (mosque), a tree splitting a rock, turkeys sheltering from the sun and a wonderful Thread Lacewing.

A Thread Lacewing (Nemopter Bipennis) photographed at the ancient site of Lydae near Gocek, Turkey
A Thread Lacewing (Nemopter Bipennis) photographed at the ancient site of Lydae near Gocek, Turkey

It was then back to the boat along the same path we’d used to arrive.

When we arrived back, now fairly hot and sweaty, one of our party decided it would be refreshing to swim back to the boat.

The rest of us just waited for the skipper to pick us up and got back to the yacht with dry-ish feet.

But the crystal clear waters are too much for anyone to resist, so after a cool dip in the sea we dried off and chatted about the abundant olive trees planted around this largely uninhabited area. We surmised that the rock baths dotted along the rocky shoreline could have been used to brine the olives in ancient times, an essential process to make them edible. Could it be that this was once an olive processing area we wondered?

With those echoes of ancient times lingering in our minds it was time to haul in the anchor and set sail back to Fethiye with a fair and following wind.

The expedition was a great success, the sailing and company excellent and, if you get the chance, a brilliant day trip from Fethiye!

More Day Trip Ideas

For more Day Trips from Fethiye ideas, have a look in the GO-DO section on