Finding the hidden gem of Kabak and our favourite beach in Turkey

As soon as I read about Kabak I put it on my list of places to visit in Turkey. It’s a bit of a hippy hangout in a lush valley with camps scattered up the hillside and dreamy views in every direction. The cheapest accommodation I could find was a tent with real beds inside so we booked it for a couple of nights. The public minibus dropped us at the end of the road where we followed a steep rocky trail down to the camp. It was off season so most accommodation had closed up for the year and I almost regretted my decision when we arrived at our camp. There wasn’t anyone around, the pool was covered up for winter, as was the pool table and table tennis. But then a jolly lady greeted us and instead of leading us to a tent she took us to a lovely wooden bungalow clinging onto a steep hillside. She said they’d already put the tents down so we got a free upgrade, wahoo. In Kabak you basically get half board at your hotel so we were getting a bargain of a price for our en-suite bungalow with breakfast and dinner for just €33 per night for two people.

We had a balcony with the most incredible view across the valley and right down to the beach. Even the sound of the gentle waves lapping the shore was audible from our balcony. A friendly little cat joined us on the balcony where we ate some snacks we’d brought along from Fethiye – good job too as there weren’t any shops or cheap eateries open in the area. We took our first day easy and followed the twenty minute downhill trail to the beach where we enjoyed a dip and sunbathed.

We weren’t expecting much for dinner but the family run camp truly spoilt us with a dozen or so dishes laid out on the table. The food wasn’t wow but it was nice to try different Turkish dishes that we wouldn’t usually order like their version of ravioli smothered in a sour yogurt and courgettes stuffed with rice.

We had a great night sleep and were relieved we hadn’t woken up in a chilly tent! Breakfast was a variety of strange cheeses, olives, homemade spreads, eggs and bread. We spent an hour nibbling on the food until the sun rose above the steep mountains and pierced through the glass restaurant. For our first full day we decided to hike to Butterfly Valley – famous for its once abundant population of butterflies but they no longer like how busy and loud the area has become so there’s not many left. We followed some rocky trails until we reached a cliff where we could look through the narrow valley. It was so dramatic with steep walls rising on both sides and allotments at the base that led to the remote sandy beach. Sadly due to the low winter sun there were big shadows being cast and the valley wasn’t likely to be lit up all day. Many people say the only way to reach the beach is by boat but we knew there was a trail down, but it was extremely steep with ropes to hold onto. That was our original plan but sitting on a shady beach didn’t sound very appealing so we decided to say goodbye to the beautiful valley and head back via some different beaches.

We came across a stony beach with big boulders in the sea so we stopped there for a swim. It was a little rough in the water but I managed to dunk my body in an area between the rocks and then baked in the sun before we continued our long hike back to our camp.

The sun was getting low and the views down to Kabak beach were beautiful in the golden light, so nice in fact that we decided to extend our hike to a place where we could watch the sun go down. We had a great view of the giant orange ball heading south towards the horizon and reflecting a neat line through the sea. It turned a lovely pink hue and then as we walked back it intensified even more so I got some snaps from our balcony too.

There were so many hiking trails that we didn’t end up relaxing much and the following day we decided to walk the opposite direction along the coast to find Paradise Beach. It was a long hike and the terrain was terribly exerting as we really had to watch the rocks on the ground and where to step.

After a couple of hours though we got a view of three beaches in the distance, they still looked far off so when we arrived at the first one we were tempted to give up on Paradise and just spend the day there. It was a lovely little cove with crystal clear water but there were a lot of rocks to navigate when entering the sea. Craig wanted to stay put but with Paradise being just a few more hundred meters from us I was hesitant.

I made the executive decision to continue to which Craig responded “on your own then”. When I told him there could be a crazy man hiding in the forest he reluctantly came with me. I thought I’d made a terrible mistake when we arrived and found a load of rubbish left at a campsite. The beach was large and sandy but didn’t look wow…once again we were almost going to give up and head to the other beach but I said maybe we should just walk to the far end – and that’s exactly where we found paradise. Holy moly it was beautiful!! The sea was twinkling in the sun and as clear as gin with large boulders in the water, giving it that Seychelles tropical island look. We ventured up a hill where the aqua colour of the water intensified and then I photographed Craig cannonballing from a boulder into the sea. We couldn’t believe we had the whole beach to ourselves!! The water was nice and deep around the boulders so we had so much fun climbing up and jumping into the water like big kids.

The two hour walk back wasn’t particularly fun though, especially not for Craig who had me constantly saying “aren’t you glad I made you continue to the beach with me?”. We watched the sun go down across Kabak beach and then rested in our cozy bungalow.

We had such a wonderful time in Kabak but I wonder if it would have the same appeal in peak season. There was a lot of development happening and if there happens to be one place playing loud music or having a party it echoes through the entire valley. But for us, it was perfect and if it wasn’t for rain on the forecast we would of stayed even longer.

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