Firstly, just to be clear on where I’m actually talking about… it’s the tiny easternmost Greek island, just off the South Coast of Turkey, accessible by ferry from Kas (Antalya). I say this because often Greek Islands, of which there are loads, are referred to with numerous names and this one is no exception. The Turks call it Meis which is what I’ve mostly been calling it, not least because it allows me to add an extra word to my slowly increasing bank of Turkish vocabulary – but I took a day trip whilst on holiday in Turkey and the only reference to ‘Kastellorizo’ from Turkish waters was on the lifebuoy on the ferry. Until you arrive, and then it’s on every t-towel in every souvenir shop.
Its Greek name is Kastellorizo, or Kastellorizon, or Castellorizo, or Castellorizon… and probably other variations, but at the risk of you assuming a brazen SEO effort here, I’ll leave you to check out the map later.
If you’ve ever heard the Grammy-nominated song by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd called ‘Castellorizon’ from an album called ‘On an Island’… this is that Island. It’s mostly instrumental with a few lyrics – nothing I could relate to from a travel perspective though, bar one lyric – ‘feel the warmth’ – entirely taken out of context here but, I totally did – it was baking in July!
This trip was largely fuelled by my desire to see Sea Turtles. A box that got a massive tick which you can read more about in my blog post titled ‘Sea Turtles Mission – Accomplished!’. But also, as I’d never been to Greece, the idea of having a holiday on my holiday was exciting and the pictures I’d seen of Kastellorizo on Instagram looked amazing. As it happens, they were remarkably accurate and filter-free. This place is so pretty. Several regular holidaymakers in Kalkan (South Turkey) had suggested that it was a wonderful day trip and I trusted their tastes entirely so… off I went.
There’s a daily Ferry from Kas (Antalya) which only takes around 20 minutes to reach the Island. Much more time was spent on the slightly amusing ferry-boarding and immigration process. All the passengers lined up ready to board the ferry and waited for their names to be read out from a huge stack of passports. One at a time we boarded the ferry whilst muttering various references to Noah’s Ark – very amusing.
As the ferry approached the tiny harbour of Kastellorizo, the views were nothing short of stunning! I could see it all. Every bit of this small and private islands wonderful charm right in front of me; churches in the hillside, traditional Greek tavernas, pretty colourful houses, the clearest blue bay I’ve ever seen in the Med and of course, sea turtles. There was literally nothing unattractive in sight, it was so captivating.
You can walk around the harbour in ten minutes if you want to but there’s so much to stop and look at. The bay looks different from each angle; at one point I felt more like I was in Aruba looking at all the stone walled multi coloured houses which seemed surprisingly Dutch in style with a backdrop of a shade of sea you’ll find from a Google search on the Caribbean. Yet 5 minutes later I was ordering a grilled halloumi flatbread with olives in a wonderful Greek taverna overlooking this tiny blue bay in the Med, and it felt like I’d discovered a secret place that anyone who loves sea turtles should make an effort to find.
If you’re thinking of visiting Kastellorizo, consider Antalya as your holiday base. You can read more about my favourite place to stay in my blog about Kalkan, ‘South Turkey’s best kept secret’.