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Gemiler Beach & St Nicholas Island


Some people like to relax on the beach, catch a few rays and generally soak up the sun with a cool drink or two.Some people like to get out and about and explore. Climb things. Poke around places and soak up the history. Lose themselves in the ancient past.

Mmm, how on earth can both types be catered for?

Easily, a day trip to Gemiler Beach (for the those that want to relax) with a trip over to St Nicholas Island (for those with the energy and inclination to climb). A perfect compromise.

Getting to Gemiler is easy, you can go on the dolmus or you can go by taxi. If there’s just a couple of you the dolmus is fine, if it’s a party of up to 8/10 then a private mini-bus can work out cheaper. When I last went to Gemiler we used The Little Gem taxi service and the per person cost for private hire at times to suit us was very reasonable. No doubt others offer the same service, but Gem is my favourite.


Broadcaster Michael Buerk posted My Kind of Town in the Telegraph Travel online here. Read this and tell me you won't be making a Sunday boat trip to Gocek sometime this summer.

At the beach you can lounge about all day on the sun loungers, take the occasional paddle in the sea; have a drink and a bite to eat. And you can also hire a boat to take you over to the island. Our boat circumnavigated the entire island before dropping us off for a couple of hours and it was the first time any of us had ever seen the entire island via boat. Going round we pinpointed areas we wanted to explore – areas not always evident when on the island itself.

The island is well worth a visit. It’s hilly and rugged and high and dusty and dry . . . and enormous fun. On the the island there’s plenty to explore and marvel at. Climb to the very peak and just drink in the view. It is stunning. Remember to take water with you as there’s nowhere on the island to get it from.

So, if you want to relax on the beach, it’s Gemiler. If you want to explore, it’s St Nicholas Island. Or, you can do both. Two days out in one. What a bargain!

St. Nicholas Island

St Nicholas Island (Gemiler Island) is an island located off the coast of Gemiler Beach. On the island are the remains of several churches built between the fourth and sixth centuries AD, along with a variety of associated buildings. Archaeologists believe it was the location of the original tomb of Saint Nicholas.

Modern archaeologists believe that the island may be the location of St. Nicholas' original tomb. The traditional Turkish name for the island is Gemiler Adası, meaning "Island of Boats", with St. Nicholas being the patron saint of sailors; the island was also referred to as St. Nicholas Island by seafarers in the medieval period. Archaeologists believe he was interred in the rock hewn church following his death in 326. They remained there until the 650s when the island was abandoned as it was threatened by an Arab fleet. The remains were taken to the town of Myra some 25 miles (40 km) to the east.

The Byzantine ruins of five churches built between the fourth and sixth centuries AD remain, along with a 350 metres (1,150 ft) processional walkway. You can walk almost the full length of this walkway - but mind your head!

Other remains from the same period include around forty other ecclesiastical buildings and over fifty Christian tombs. One of the churches was cut directly from the rock at the island's highest point, and is located directly at the western end of the processional walkway.




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© Michael Crane, 2014