Answering the age-old question "Can you actually see Rhodes from Çalış Beach?"

A Simple, Non-Technical Answer - With Diagrams to Clarify

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 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 from Rhodes and Çalış

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:

  • Çalış Beach is at approximately sea level.
  • The average person is around 2 metres tall.
  • Rhodes is about 80 KM from Çalış (as the crow flies).
  • The world is NOT flat.

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

My geeky scientific mind was piqued, so 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 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 of distance to horizon showing that a 1200m tall mountain can be seen from 80km away

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 island 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 simply 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 to silhouette the island – we may actually be able to see Rhodes. And some people may have the pictures to prove it! What do you think? Rhodes? Or not?

These photos provided courtesy of Rob and Bev Tomkys, Çalıs Beach, Fethiye, Turkey

sunset photo highlighting the silhouette of an island on the horizon sunset photo highlighting the silhouette of an island on the horizon sunset photo highlighting the silhouette of an island on the horizon

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.