Akyaka is an lovely beach resort at the head of the Gulf of Gökova, nestling in deep pine forests and eucalyptus woods. With a backdrop to the north of the majestic Sakar Tepe mountains which rise to almost 1,000m and bordered to the south by the wetlands of the Gökova plain ("heaven's plain") with it's multitude of species, particularly water birds, it's easy to see why this village continues to captivate so many visitors.
A quiet fishing village until the 1970s, Akyaka was then "discovered" by Turkish people seeking an escape from the big cities. One of those who came to the region in those years, with his wife Halet Çambel, on doctor’s orders, was Nail Çakırhan - poet, journalist and architect. Çakırhan bought half an acre of land and immediately set about building his dream house. Combining traditional Muğla architecture with modern detail, the Çakırhan House was highly acclaimed for its extraordinary aesthetics and was awarded one of the period’s most respected architecture prizes, the Agha Khan International Architecture Award, in 1983. Providing a role model for newcomers, it rapidly spawned similar houses in the region and has emerged today as authentic Akyaka architecture. Çakırhan died in 2008 but his legacy is preserved at the Nail Çakırhan and Halet Çambel Culture and Art House in Akyaka. Opened in 1998 the building, which was completely built by Çakırhan according to his famous Muğla architecture, features a particularly spectacular ceiling. It was given by Çakırhan to the Friends of Gökova-Akyaka Society. The exhibition house whose walls are mostly composed of windows, is open to light from everywhere and is built in the garden of the original Aga Khan-prized house.
Akyaka has two main areas - upper and lower village. Between the two you can walk down the cobbled streets or take the path through the woods. The village centre is at the top of town with shops stocking all daily necessities, ATM cash machines, Ataturk square, bus stop, cafes, a few restaurants, post office, daily fruit & veg market and weekly general market on a Wednesday. At the lower part of town there is the beach, harbour, forestry commission area, conservation beach, shops, restaurants, bars, bus station, council park, and the river.
The long sandy beach of Akyaka is in a sheltered bay with shallow waters and is ideal for children. At the end of the beach, there are watersports available such as kayaking, kite surfing, windsurfing, also bicycle hire. Beyond the beach you enter Gökova Park. There are plenty of restaurants on the seafront promenade and a couple of relaxed bars. Past the waterside cafes and restaurants, you can go up into the woods, with woodland walks, picnic areas and bathing platforms.
If you feel inclined, you can take a boat trip to explore the crystal-clear waters and many untouched bays and islands on this beautiful stretch of coast. Daily trips from the boat co-operative on the quayside, depart around 10 a.m. back about 5 pm., lunch is often included and there will be plenty of stops for swimming. Sedir (Cleopatra's) Island is a very popular destination for the boat trips, there are some ancient ruins and an amphitheatre (admission to the island is extra).
Away from the coast, the crystal clear Kadın Azmak ('Woman river`) meanders through the verdant countryside of fields and woodlands. Daily River Boat trips operate from the harbour, down the Azmac river and back - these take about 30 mins. To experience this unique natural setting at its best, visit one of the traditional fish restaurants set on the river, just outside Akyaka, where trout is served, freshly caught from the river, along with traditional Turkish delicacies, in an idyllic setting.
As you drive out of Akyaka towards Gökova, there are the castle ruins, C16th water cistern, Inisdibi mosque, and the ancient Lycian rock tombs, which were uncovered by chance when the road to bypass the village was being built. They are virtually all that remain of the ancient city of Idyma and date from the Carian period of 330-30 BC. From Inisdibi (between Gökova & Akyaka) you can walk across the plains, and down the one mile long avenue of Eucalyptus trees, to the village of Akçapınar, where in spring you can see storks nesting.
If you are visiting Akyaka independently, by car - do stop off for breakfast at the delightful little village of Akçapınar. It's on the right-hand side of the road about 1Km from the main Gökova junction of the Dalaman-Muğla highway. Our favourite is the Bodur café - frothy ayran (yogurt drink), pide (Turkish pizza), menemen (eggs poached in tomatoes, peppers and onion), served with succulent tomatoes. It's a great stop for breakfast just an hour or so after leaving Turunc. They also have a small shop selling amongst other things local honey and olives.