Located on Bodrum’s northwestern tip, this charming village was once a small port where fishermen docked their boats along the harbourside, selling their daily catch to the villagers. It was well off the beaten path for tourists, who preferred established Bodrum town or locations further down the Mediterranean coast.
Over the past decade, however, Bodrum’s miraculous transformation from a simple but charming backwater to one of Turkey’s premier destinations has firmly placed this Aegean town on the map.
One of the most beguiling things about Yalikavak is that while it’s undeniably luxurious, the town retains its old world charm. You’re just as likely to bump into a fisherman as you are an oil tycoon or member of a European royal family. In fact, while there are some incredibly sophisticated restaurants in town, some of the best eateries are the small and unassuming fish joints by the harbour, serving up simple but fresh seafood dishes for around 10 euros.
High-tech marinaYalikavak’s state-of-the-art new marina has gone a long way to revamping the town. Formerly Yalikavak Marina, a multi-million Euro revamp by the Palmali Group, headed by Azerbaijani entrepreneur Mubariz Mansimov, has turned the once careworn marina into Palmarina Bodrum, a centre for all things yachting - and all things chic. The marina boasts 105 shops, internationally renowned restaurant chains like Cipriani and upmarket clubs like the Billionaire’s Club, where, if you’re feeling flush, you can rent a sun lounger for a cool 26 euro. Of course, there are also modern facilities for yachts, with mooring for around 150 yachts.
“A real find”Tamara and Winton Scott-Hastings agree that there’s nowhere quite like Yalikavak. The English couple recently bought a 1.9 million euro waterfront property in Bodrum with its own private jetty where they moor their yacht. The couple, both sailing enthusiasts, discovered Bodrum when they began their search for a summer home.
“We’ve always holidayed on the Cote D’azure, and we started looking at homes there before realising that a waterfront property in Yalikavak is about a third of the price of its equivalent in the south of France,” Winton says.
“We think Yalikavak is a real find; it’s somewhere we look forward to returning to every year for the rest of our lives,” Tamara says. “We love the old streets and the uniquely Turkish flavour of the taverns and the harbour.”
The couple winter their yacht at Palmarina and say the facilities at the marina rival the best they’ve seen in the world. “We’ve sailed in and around Monaco, the south of France, Italy and Greece and seen some incredible marinas. I would say Palmarina is up there with the best of them, and sailing in Turkey too.” Winton says. For the couple Palmarina is more than just a storage facility. “From our place we can reach Palmarina by water in just over ten minutes. Sometimes we’ll go there for dinner at Nobu and then sail back under the stars. It’s magical.”
Palmarina has already attracted high profile visitors like Bill Gates, who stayed for a few days in his superyacht, and Roman Abramovich. And there will surely be more stars on the horizon for Palmarina as the revamp is only just the beginning, with further luxury developments in the works as well as plans for high-speed boat trips to the Greek islands.
Yalikavak: life’s a beachYalikavak’s beaches enjoy Blue Flag status for their cleanliness and beauty. Indeed, on days when the sun is shining (as it does 300 days of the year) the sparkling blue sea contrasted with the green hills means Yalikavak’s beaches are some of the nicest around. Head to Kudur Bay, where the Xuma beach club offers lush cocktails and music as well as a wide range of water sports. International stars regularly make an appearance behind the DJ booth in this hip spot.
Laid-back Magi Beach Club on Tilkicik Bay is more family oriented: a beach restaurant with a large seating area spread alongside the water’s edge and a pontoon floating in crystal clear waters. The food is great and it’s a relaxing place to while away an afternoon. The kids will love Pirates of the Cactus, an incredible water park that’s recently opened just outside of Yalikavak.
Culture and historyThis part of the peninsula is alive with history and art. Head to Sandyma, a centuries-old inland village. Once Yalikavak’s main residential area, Sandyma has been abandoned to the elements and makes an interesting and poignant stop on your tour of the town. If you have time, stop in at the Nural Sanat Evi, a local art house run by a painter and sculptor couple. The road winding up to the village is lined with small food stalls where you can grab a tasty breakfast on the cheap.
Back in town, head to Sanatcilar Sokagi, a street filled with artisans selling their wares, as well as a bustling Thursday market.
SundownYalikavak’s sunsets are legendary on the peninsula. Sunset’s undoubtedly the best time of day to wander along the harbourfront and grab a meal and toast the end of another beautiful day in Bodrum. After all, it’s what the locals have been doing for generations. Try Mythos, a popular fish tavern on the front. Sit on a bench in the town square at Kavakli Kofte, a traditional and rustic local haunt. Gulten Abla is sheltered by a gigantic sycamore tree and serves up tried and true Turkish fare. You’ll also find Italian, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Greek - basically anything you could wish for. For seafood, try established Cimentepe or Saits.
Property investment in YalikavakAs money and prestigious visitors continue to flow toward Bodrum, Yalikavak’s future as Turkey’s most luxurious holiday destination seems assured. As Tamara Scott-Hastings puts it: “people used to come to Turkey because it was a cheaper destination. But it’s no longer a budget holiday haunt - Yalikavak’s something truly special with a charm that’s all of its own. I’m happy to be a part of that.” - this in turn, has seen the upward trend of people purchasing second homes or even moving to Yalikavak permanently.
As the area's profile has increased, we have seen the number of expats in Yalikavak rise considerably over the last 10 years - the bohemian lifestyle and laid back atmosphere seemingly drawing in thousands over the years. However, it is no accident that as Yalikavak's stock rises, so too does the prices of homes and the quality of life in the region. Top brands are now recognising the potential to be had in this region of Turkey, nowadays you wouldn't batter an eyelid to walk past several worldwide known fashion retail shops, or dine in world class restaurants overlooking the sea - the progress of Yalikavak has been matched and even beaten by the progress of the lifestyle.
Quality of Yalikavak property - Over the years we have witnessed first hand the change in quality and design of homes in the region, lifting up in line with homes that would not be out of place in some of the most luxurious parts of the world to welcome the more discerning buyer. An example of this being the Richard Meier House which was sold for $5m in December 2013 to a London City investment banker – prices like these were unheard of in Bodrum previously, now more and more are being sold, showing that people are willing to pay the premiums for the enchanting lifestyle on offer here.
Careful city planning and low build density on the hills of Yalikavak overlooking the bays of Yalikavak mean huge land plots and highly exclusive homes are becoming the trend and when you compare this to other parts of the world such as the south of France, Marbella and Italy, prices are still less than half what they are in these places for such mansions on huge exclusive plots. For example, this stunning 5 bedroom home overlooking Bodrum Palmarina is currently on the market for under £600,000 - complete with a separate guest house and luxury swimming pool, you simply don't find homes of this ilk for less than a million elsewhere.
Overall, we can certainly say that Yalikavak's star is rising, and rising quick. In terms of investment opportunity, now is the time to get in while prices are still moderate compared to European neighbours, as this most certainly won't always be the case. An exclusive lifestyle at an affordable price - not for long, seize the opportunities today for a better tomorrow.
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