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Cleopatra (Sedir) Island

Sedir Island Panorama

 

Sedir Island, known in ancient times as Kedreae, features an amphitheatre and some other Greek/Roman ruins shadowed by the silvery green olive trees.  However, its biggest claim to fame is its Cleopatra Beach, with golden sands virtually non-existent anywhere else in the Eastern Mediterranean, accompanied by milky turquoise waters of the cove.  Legend has it that, as a passionate gesture, her lover Mark Anthony shipped a boat of sand from Egypt and together they swam in the crystal blue waters and walked the sandy beach that reminded her of home.  Hence, the island became commonly-known as Cleopatra’s Island and for many years, nobody challenged the myth until science proved that, although there is no other sand like it in Turkey, its unique formation is actually caused by dissolving seashells.

Camlı Harbour - waiting for the short boat ride to Sedir Island
Camlı Harbour - (still) waiting for the short boat ride to Sedir Island!
Camlı Harbour and cafe - a welcome stop after returning from Sedir Island!
First view of the famous Cleopatra's Beach as you follow the guided path from the harbour on Sedir Island
Unbelievably blue water for bathers at Cleopatra's Beach
Amazing vista looking north from Cleopatra's Beach
The Roman amphitheatre on Sedir Island
Sedir Island and Cleopatra's Beach are a favourite stop for yacht cruises
Breathtaking scenery viewed from Sedir Island

 

Today, the sands are under heavy protection and removing any quantity of sand from the beach is forbidden, so no towels or shoes are allowed in the beach and anyone entering the beach must have a shower before exiting.  Sometimes bags are searched upon exiting, too.

Frequent boats to island depart from the small harbour at Camlı about 5km off the main highway north from Marmaris to Mugla.  The left turning is about 10 km north of Marmaris (watch for brown Sedir Adasi signpost).  The return boat trip costs 15TL and admission to the island is a further 10 TL.  There is a small kiosk on the island with fairly reasonably priced drinks and snacks.  The beach closes at 7PM and it's best to visit the island in the morning, as early as possible, because the beach gets overcrowded especially after 1PM during the high season.  There is little shade so it's a good idea to bring plenty of water.

After disembarking from the boat at the jetties on Sedir Island, a short walk through rocky olive groves brings you to the “sandy” beach.   The beach itself is about 100m long and visitors are only allowed on a narrow strip about 2-3 m deep.  It is said that sufferers of rheumatic aliments find that lying on this 'sand' significantly eases their complaints.

Even though the beach is a popular attraction, there are other notable historical structures worth visiting.  The beginnings of Sedir Island are estimated to date from the fourth century BC when the Greek Spartans ruled it. Following them, the island fell under Roman rule and it is from this era that several historic structures exist.  You can follow a path from the beach to the well preserved ruins of an amphitheatre on the island.  Near the top of the hill are the ruins of a temple (converted into a church by the Byzantines).  Running parallel along the eastern shore are ancient city walls and towers that have stood the test of time.  The Agora, containing stones carved in the shape of hearts is a delightful attraction and also offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.

Top Tip If you are visiting Sedir Island (Cleopatra Beach) independently by car, there are some great restaurants on the short road off the main highway to Camlι Harbour.  They are well-known for their huge Turkish breakfasts - try Cinar with its delightful rural setting - streams, water fowl, chickens ... very relaxing and good value.