Akyaka is situated at the end of the beautiful Bay of Gökova, and tucked in between the sea and the Sakara Tepe mountains. This geography confines its size, and means it can never grow to any great extent in any direction, though it is now spreading towards Gökova in one direction, and houses are being built on slopes of a serious gradient.
It is approximately 30 minutes drive from Yenice Vadi, either via the main D550, or via the back route over the mountains. Either route offers stunning views of the bay (see photo above).
There are really 3 main parts to Akyaka, the beach, the river (and its restaurants), and the ‘top’ part of the village.
The ‘top’ village consists primarily of shops, and some cafés / restaurants. This part of the village is perhaps more ‘local’, and the shops up here include such as hardware shops. There is also a butcher and a baker, and these are the only shops that are not replicated down by the beach.
The beach is the heart of Akyaka. There is a strip of typically hard Turkish sand, covered during the summer with sun loungers, but of a reasonable size, bordered by a harbour on one side (this is where the boat trips all start), and by rock walls on the other. The beach is backed by several cafés / restaurants, who ‘own’ a block of sun loungers. Drink / eat enough and the loungers will be free!
Most of these places are open at night as well, certainly during the peak season, and provide good food at reasonable prices, and the evening promenade along the beach is always lively. There is also a wooden block of changing rooms / toilets on the beach itself. During the evenings there are also a few stalls on the other side of the harbour, selling all sorts of trinkets, ideal for a post dinner stroll.
The sea itself shelves at a wonderfully gentle rate. You can be 100 metres out, and still only have water up to your waist, so it is ideal for children. Beware the water’s edge though – you occasionally find the odd bee here, which, though it may look dead, is often still capable of a sting, so best to always wear footwear. A local tip – if you do get stung, rub a raw onion on it!
At the opposite end of the beach it is possible to hire pedalos, canoes, etc, and also to book wind-surfing lessons. Beyond this is the forest park, and access to a rocky walk between the forest and the sea. There are further cafés along here, and various good rocks to jump off, or fish from, (the sea is of course as clear as a bell) as well as showers. You will also be surrounded by the smell of wood smoke drifting up from all the Turkish barbecues.
The Old Bridge across the Azmak River
Running parallel to the beach and about 50 yards back is a road that contains a few shops and restaurants, as well as leading you back to the crossroads, which again has shops, restaurants, etc, on all sides, and catering to many different tastes.
This is also where you can get a taxi, (or turn left and walk up the hill to thedolmuş stop, regular buses to Muğla and Marmaris), and just off to seawards a large car park.
This leads to the harbour which contains everything from small fishing boats through various sizes of tourist boats up to large trawlers. Should you want to take a boat out on the Bay of Gökova, this is the starting point, where you can either join an organised trip, or hire a private boat for the day. There are many different destinations in the bay that you can choose from, including Cleopatra's Island, and all trips include many stops for swimming / snorkelling, at secluded islands / bays, and a barbecued lunch.
The harbour is fed by the Azmak river, crossed by a bridge that leads to the conservation area, also well worth a stroll, and the start of the eucalyptus walk (very hot in summer). There is also a small (1 metre wide) beach all around this area, which leads to the kite-surfing centre - many schools, and hire shops. Beware, they often try to charge you for admittance to this part of the beach.
All along this part of the river are small cafés - good food, and good value, enjoy eating to the sound of the geese swimming up and down the river past your table.
The Azmak River and a Restaurant
The 3rd key part of Akyaka is the area around the river restaurants. These may be reached either by the path (then road) described above, or by taking the Gökova road out of Akyaka (an easy walk, no car needed). The number of restaurants varies from year to year, but there are usually around six. Each one has its own speciality in terms of setting. They are all though on the river, some on islands, most with spotlights hitting the water, showing the ducks, geese, fish, etc.
They all specialise in fish (choose your own from the chiller), as well as having the usual mix of starters, and all serving other meat dishes as well.
Although these restaurants will cost you more than those by the beach, they really are in such a delightful setting that they are well worth the small amount extra for a special night out. And the lights, and the water, and the swings, make it an ideal place for kids to keep themselves amused as well. The fact that you are by fast running water that until a short while ago was ½ way up a mountain also means it is much cooler here than elsewhere in the village. (Though, as you are by the river, beware mosquitoes!)
Gökova Bay from Akyaka Castle
Opposite this part of the river you can also find the ruins of the castle. Follow the track up past the cistern, and follow it round to the left, and you will come across it. Sadly, it has not been at all excavated, so little is known about it, though you can easily imagine it standing sentinel over a bay that once must have flooded most of the plain in front of you.
You can also follow the road past all the restaurants, and this brings you to the rock tombs – not up to Dalyan standards, and incomplete, but interesting all the same.
The other thing that should be mentioned about Akyaka is markets. It has its own on a Wednesday (near the Jendarmerie), which is quite small, and worth a visit, albeit a short one. The number of stalls (especially non-food) is limited – but if they do have what you want, you will probably get it cheaper than elsewhere.
Carian Rock Tomb
The other local market is at Gökova on a Saturday. This is a major local day out, and has much more of a selection.
(The major markets are in Muğla and Marmaris, both on a Thursday. Marmaris has more tourist stalls, but Muğla, especially the fruit and vegetables, really is a sight to behold.)
Akyaka is an ideal spot for a day trip, great for both couples and families. Whilst the English are very welcome, it remains predominately a Turkish resort, and thus retains its delightful atmosphere.