Guide to Kekova Island in Demre: Boat Tours, History, and Tourist Tips

Last Updated by Ezgi on June 27, 2021
kekova ısland in Antalya in Turkey

Kekova Island is a very popular destination that attracts many tourists every year. It's Turkey's largest island in the Mediterranean.

The Island of Kekova and the sunken city, are among the most visited places in the Mediterranean, both are unique historical locations underwater and on land.

You can visit this area with daily excursion boats and it has the cleanest waters in the Mediterranean as well.

In this article, you'll find the details you need to know before visiting the island, including attractions, history, mysterious ruins, tours, and many other tourist tips.

What Can I Do on Kekova Island?

Kekova Island is a natural beauty, covering about 4.5 square kilometers. The region's name comes from the island of Kekova, and it stretches across the towns of Kaleköy (Simenaand Üçağız (Teimioussa).

There has been no permanent population on the island since about the 1850's. Although, it's possible to see many yachts anchored in this area for weeks as it is a very popular destination for sailors, with its unspoiled nature.

There are many interesting places waiting to be discovered in the Kekova region, such as the ruins of Simena and Teimussa and the ruins of the ancient cities of Aperlai and Dolihiste.

Sunken City (Dolichiste)

You should definitely see the sunken city on the north side of the island overlooking Kaleköy. The ruins of the old streets and buildings are under the water and can be seen prominently. It's believed that the ancient city was submerged in the 2nd century BC as a result of a large earthquake (like Aperlai and Simena).

Tersane

Tersane was a former naval shipyard in ancient times. You can see the underwater ruins of a Byzantine church as well. Tersane bay is located on the northwest part of the island. Excursion boats usually stop there to swim and observe. 

The reflection of the sunlight in the blue cave, which is large enough to enter by boat, creates wonderful views.

kekova ısland in Antalya in Turkey 1

Entrance, Tickets, and Tours

  • Tours : You can visit the villages of Kaleköy and Üçağız, Aperlai, Akvaryum Bay, Kocakarı Bay, Kekova Sunken City, Calagic, Gökkaya Bay, Syangoz Bay, and Burç Bay in the Kekova region with daily boat tours or Blue Cruise Tours with boat accommodation.
  • From Kaş Harbor: Private Boat Tour to Kekova - This daily trip takes about 9 hours. Spend the day on the water exploring hidden coves and admiring fortresses and Byzantine ruins. Swim in Yaglıca Bay, admire Lycian Royal Tombs in Kaleköy, and enjoy typical delicacies in the all-organic lunch served onboard. This kind of daily excursion trip price is around 850 € per group with up to 10 people. 
  • From Demre: Private Boat Trip to Kekova - It's possible to hire a private boat to explore the highlights around Kekova Island. With this kind of trip, you can have an intimate experience spending time around Kekova. Whether you're interested in taking multiple dips in the water, exploring ruins and caves, or just taking in the sun, you will enjoy your time at sea with a private boat. This kind of daily excursion trip price is around 280 € per group of up to 8 people.
  • From Kemer to Kekova: Blue Cruise Turkey  - Discover the marvelous coast of Western Antalya for 7 days with a Gulet Blue Cruise. An adventurous trip with history, culture, and nature.  The prices change depending on the month. It costs about 500 € per person in the highest season.
  • Tip: To book amusement parks, museums, and tour tickets in advance of your trip to the Antalya region, don't hesitate to check out the deals in our official shop.

How to Get to Kekova Island

Transportation to the island is provided only by boats. Excursion boats depart from the town of Üçağız, which is a lovely fishing village in Demre.

  • By Car : You should follow the Üçağız signs that you will encounter while driving from Kaş towards Side, Antalya with your vehicle. You can rent a car easily from Antalya to reach this place. Check our guide to renting a car in Antalya.
  • Public Transportation : You can get the Antalya - Kekova bus from Kaş, Kalkan, Finike, and Demre city center to reach the village of Üçağız in Demre. 

Check out the distances from nearby towns to Üçağız using this link.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How can I get to Kekova Island?

Kekova is located just 3.5 hours from Kaş harbor by boat. It's possible to reach the island in 30 minutes with a boat from the Üçağız Port.

What can I see on Kekova Island?

There are many interesting places waiting to be discovered in the Kekova region, such as the ruins of Simena and Teimussa and the ruins of the ancient cities of Aperlai and Dolihiste.

Sunken City (Dolichiste)

You should definitely see the Sunken City on the north side of the island overlooking Kaleköy. The ruins of the old streets and buildings are under the water and can be seen prominently. It's believed that the ancient city was submerged in the 2nd century BC as a result of a large earthquake (like Aperlai and Simena).

Tersane

Tersane was a former naval shipyard in ancient times. You can see the underwater ruins of a Byzantine church as well. Tersane bay is located on the northwest part of the island. Excursion boats usually stop there to swim and observe. 

The reflection of the sunlight in the blue cave, which is large enough to enter by boat, creates wonderful views.

How was the island of Kekova formed?

In ancient times, Kekova was known as Dolihiste. Dolihiste sank in to the sea after a strong earthquake in the 2nd century BC. The earth in this area sank several meters and the coast of the city sank under the water. This is how the island of Kekova was formed.

Where is Kekova Island?

Kekova Island is located in the town of Demre in Antalya. The geography of the mainland coasts, Kekova Bay, and Kekova Island are defined as the Kekova region.

Hotels Near Kekova Island

Here you will find 4 suggestions of the nicest accommodations close to Kekova Island:

  • La Kumsal Hotel : La Kumsal Hotel offers stunning views of the sea and Meis Island. Most of the rooms have a sea view. The day starts with an open buffet breakfast here. The à la carte restaurant serves unique tastes of Mediterranean cuisine. Kaş town center is 5 km from the hotel. Address : Cukurbağ Yarım Adası Beyhan Cenkci Cad. No: 74, Kaş
  • Alley Prime Hotel : Is an ideal luxury hotel in Kaş with relaxing rooms. Address : Andifli Mahallesi, Bulent Kalkavan Sokak No: 14/1, Kaş 07580 Turkey
  • Kekova Pansiyon : Kekova Pansiyon is situated on the seaside in a very historical village surrounded by ruins. It has 8 very large rooms all facing the sea. You can taste traditional home made meals and enjoy the lounging area by the sea. Address : Üçagız Koyu, Kekova
  • Em-Ba Butik Bungalow: Em-Ba Boutique Bungalow offers a holiday in touch with nature in Demre. It's a short distance from the sea and promises a pleasant holiday in Antalya with its lush garden and peaceful atmosphere. It's both affordable and fun. Address: Beymelek, Şht. İbrahim Çelik Cd. No:129, 07570 Demre/Antalya

The History of Kekova Island

The word "Kekova" in Turkish means "plain of thyme". This describes the region that includes the island of Kekova, the villages of Kaleköy and Üçagız and the three ancient cities of Simena, Teimussa, and Tersane (which means "shipyard", since its bay was the site of an old shipyard, with mostly Byzantine ruins).

Kekova was re-established and developed during the Byzantine period, but its development could not continue due to Arab invasions.

The Kekova region was declared a Specially Protected Area in 1990 to protect the natural, cultural, and geographical wealth of Kekova Island and the surrounding coastline. The Kekova protected area is 260 km² and is managed by the Ministry of the Environment, authority for the Protection of Special Areas in Turkey.

The area is not declared a "National Park" nevertheless. The places that border the villages of Üçagız and Kaleköy, as well as four ancient cities - Dolichiste, Aperlai, Simena, and Teimussu. The submerged cities were initially completely closed for diving and snorkeling, but later this ban was partially lifted.

In 2000, Kekova was nominated for World Heritage inscription and appears on UNESCO's "tentative list" in the cultural heritage category.

Contact

  • Address : Kekova Adası - 07570 Demre/Antalya
  • Public Transport: By excursion boats 

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