So, Can You Actually See Rhodes from Çalış Beach?

I'll confess – I was a nay-sayer. At 80 KM away, I didn't believe it was possible to see the Greek island of Rhodes from Çalış Beach. Sure, people posted fuzzy pictures on Facebook, but I thought they were either fake (like the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, etc.), the result of people imbibing too many cocktails along the promenade, or simply a mis-identification. After all, Peksimet Island is located about 2½ nautical miles south of Kurtoğlu Burnu, so maybe that's what people were seeing.

map showing distance between Rhodes and Çalış

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Then I did the math. And it turns out I may have been wrong…

My Assumptions

For the purposes of my "study", I made the following assumptions:

If you can live with these assumptions, please continue reading. If you vehemently disagree with any of these assumptions – especially the final one – please close this article and move along.

My Research

I accessed an online tool called a distance to the horizon calculator which determines how far away the horizon appears, depending on your height above sea level. I plugged 2 metres into the calculator and it said the horizon would be 5.1 KM away.

"Eureka!" I exclaimed to myself. "There's no possible way a person would be able to see Rhodes because the island is well beyond the horizon."

diagram showing that a 2m tall person can see 5.1km to the horizon

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But my geeky scientific mind was piqued, and I asked myself the next logical question – "How tall would a person have to be to see Rhodes?" It turns out they'd have to be at least 500 metres tall (or standing on something to make them 500 metres tall) to see the Island of Colossus from Çalış Beach. (This explains why, on a clear day, you can see the entire Greek island from the top of 1700 metre tall Mount Babadağ near Ölüdeniz.)

It Works in Reverse Too...

When I read the tool's instructions, I learned that the calculation works in reverse too. If a person can see something 80 KM away from a height of 500 metres, they can also see something 500 metres tall from a distance of 80 KM.

Hmmmm, interesting…

Guess what? Parts of Rhodes are well over 500 metres tall. In fact, the island's highest peak - Mount Attavyros near Lindos - is 1215 metres above sea level. So, theoretically, we should be able to see it from Çalış Beach.

diagram showing that a 1200m tall mountain can be seen from 80km away

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It appears that I owe an apology to everyone who I secretly thought was crazy (or drunk). Math and science prove it is possible to see Rhodes from Çalış Beach.

...But Not Always

But, in reality, we can't always see the island. Even when we're cruising in that direction, Rodos seems invisible until we're about half way there – when it suddenly appears from the haze. Why isn't it always visible?

It turns out that even with 20/20 vision, human eyes aren't good enough to see distant things – even really big things – in less-than-perfect atmospheric conditions. Mist, fog, haze, smoke, and dust interfere with our ability to see that far.

But when conditions are perfect – for example a nice clear afternoon as the sun is setting behind the the island – we may actually be able to see Rhodes. And some have the pictures to prove it!

What do you think? Rhodes? Or not?

Many thanks to Rob and Bev Tomkys of Çalıs Beach, Fethiye, who provided these photos for the article.

sunset photo highlighting the silhouette of an island on the horizon

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sunset photo highlighting the silhouette of an island on the horizon

Click to expand.

sunset photo highlighting the silhouette of an island on the horizon

Click to expand.

Have you got pictures of Rhodes taken from Çalış (or Mount Babadağ) you'd like to share with us? We'd love to include them in this article, and will give you photographic credit. Please get in touch any time!