Butterfly Valley? Meh, you’re better off finding somewhere else – to find true Turkish paradise read further below. Unfortunately this “secret” beach on Turkey’s Turquoise coast isn’t worth the effort, there are much better options out there. Paradise they said, pristine free spirited wilderness they said. Hundreds of butterflies they said. As beautiful as it is, Butterfly Valley is vastly over-rated.
No. I’m sorry folks, but what you read ain’t true. Mass tourism has well and truly begun to take its toll on Butterfly Valley. As you will read almost everywhere else online, Butterfly Valley is supposedly one of Turkey’s best kept secrets, where a band of hippies run a small shack bar campsite in majestic valley accessible only by rare taxi boats.
In reality, Butterfly Valley is loud, it’s dirty and the “traditional” food consists of burgers and chips. Added to this is a constant stream of booze cruises washing up on its shore all day.
Butterfly Valley, Fethiye, Turquoise Coast, Turkey (Map)
Taxi Boat from Ölüdeniz (Frequent Dolmus from Fetiye to Ölüdeniz). Last boat returns at 17:00. 20TL return.
WC, showers, Bar, Restaurant, Camp-site, Tent rental.
Try to get early, or arrive late in the afternoon to avoid the package holiday crowds. And don’t miss the last taxi boat or else you’ll be stranded for the night.
We arrived in Turkey in June, and one of our goals was to camp in Butterfly Valley for a few nights while there. However we didn’t reach Fethiye, the nearest large town, until August and by then it had become far too hot to camp (We had quickly learned this during a couple of very sweaty nights in gorgeous Cirali).
So we stayed in a hostel in Fethiye and took a dolmus to Brit-ified Ölüdeniz, where you can get a Full English breakfast and a pint of Guinness for £5 at 08.00. Eurgh…“Lovely jubbly gov’nor.” We skipped by the wrinkly tattooed East End Londoners and quickly found the taxi boat, which ran every half hour….. quite frequent for a boat to a place that’s apparently off the beaten track.
We set sail from the beach, surrounded by a flotilla of booze cruises (a “pirate” ship was blasting out Katy Perry…sounds delightful at 09:00).
To be fair, the boat journey through the turquoise waters and into Butterfly is like something out of Jurassic Park, with steep, pine clad hills towering up on either side of the boat. There’s no boat slip or landing area, so the skipper launches the boat up on the beach. Once we jumped down off the boat onto the beach, we were greeted by pounding pounding techno music filtering across the beach from a improvised bar built on a pile of rocks.
In it’s heyday, probably well over 10 years ago, Butterfly Valley held an enigmatic charm, a hidden cove away from the traps of modern mass tourism. Hmmmm, trying to find a shady part of the beach that wasn’t covered in cigarette butts wasn’t particularly enigmatic.
The “beach shack” is now a boozy fast food joint, with a EuroCamp style eating area, full of folk feeding on chips and downing expensive Efes beer. Further beyond, a new age hippy sits and expects payment for walking to the dried out waterfall….where of course (!) there are no butterflies.
Eventually in the afternoon the booze cruise flotillas went away, thankfully taking the non-stop techno DJ along with them. At last, this was it, just us (+ 200 other tourists) and the lovely Butterfly Valley we came to see. Ah peace…oh wait, no…. what’s that?! “Baaaaaby you’re a Fiiiiirrreeework” comes bellowing around into the cove as another booze cruise crops up at the mouth of the bay.
We made our way back to Fethiye on the taxi boat at around 16:00. By this stage we were quite disappointed and just wanted to get back to Fethiye. The taxi boat skipper also works as the local beer baron, and had brought crates of beer for the campsite. While unloading the crates, the peaceful, melodic hippies decided to break into a scuffle and throw punches while arguing about who carries the beer to the bar. Another dent in our quaint Butterfly Valley dream.
As we sailed back to Oludeniz, with our toes dancing along the turquoise water, we took at peek out the side of the boat, watching the Valley fade from view. Farewell Butterfly Valley, I sincerely hope you wake up and regain your exotic charm in the years to come.
But where else to go?!
Paradise Beach / Cennet Golu
Paradise Beach is what Butterfly was meant to be like. Isolated, and only the most hardy of travellers make it here. Access is by walking or a boat taxi from Kabak at 11:15 or 18:30. A small, well run campsite – Cennet Camp – is by the beach. It’s a truly idylic place. Special offer of €25 for tent, breakfast and BBQ dinner.
Kabak Bay is close to Butterfly Valley. Kabak is a great alternative but beware! It’s a target for tourism development and soon it may not longer be a tranquil, chilled out place. It’s still difficult to reach as it is still a dirt road but there are sporadic dolmus services from the village of Faralya, at the top of the valley. Some of Turkey’s most delightful guesthouses are based here, as well as a number of cheap campsites. Be quick to visit though, the secret is out!
Cirali Beach a protected Turtle nesting site. It is just over 1 hour from Antayla but due to its isolated location down a steep narrow road it is very quiet. The wide, broad beach is shaded by large trees and it makes for a perfect, quiet stay. Camping is possible at the far end of the beach!
Patara Beach is close to to the popular town of Kas. Miles and miles of soft sand, the main part is busy but beyond this you practically have the entire beach to yourself. Also for any India Jones out there, epic Roman ruins lie just beyond the beach. Tasty restaurants and lovely guesthouses are in the village, roughly 2km from the beach.