TRAVELERS

PATARA BEACH

PATARA BEACH

Imagine an endless stretch of beach that's locked in amber. The Aegean turquoise turned jade, and tinged with bronze hues. Your toes sunk into soft, peppered sand, and a boisterous wind in your hair as you take in the closing refrains of the day. All the while, your gaze is trained on the burning horizon, watching a golden orb make its steady descent into the sea. This is Patara Beach at sunset. And at such moments in Lycian Turkey, it is customary to be pensive.

Hemmed in on both ends by mountains, and sand dunes along its length, there is a sense of seclusion about Patara Beach. Exerting a final effort to isolate it from the mainland, is the large marshy area which was once Patara harbour before a few earthquakes had its way with the geography. The landscape is breath-taking and you'd be forgiven for thinking that time is stilled out here. Or we've stepped back a few decades. Even in the height of summer, things never get crowded. And a no water sports policy means we mostly get those peaceful beach-goers, who are either Zen, Mediterranean, or the more sophisticated of holidaymakers.

It's a wonder and a blessing that this 12 kilometre strip is unspoiled by the evils of mass tourism and development. Perhaps we have the loggerhead turtles, known locally as the Kareta Kareta, to thank for that. Patara is part of a national park, with efforts being made to preserve it as a key biodiversity site. The beach is a breeding ground for the endangered loggerheads, so it's been declared off-limits for development. And between May and October, which is when the turtles come to nest, it is closed after sunset.

So make a day of it. Grab a book, pack a lunch box, and a packet of cigs –because whether or not you smoke, you'll be wanting to light up when the day reaches its crescendo with that glorious sunset. If at any point you fancy a break from the lazy sunbathing; there are always the dunes which demand to be marvelled at. And horse riding is available for those adventurous souls seeking a short, in-saddle excursion.

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