A Visitor's Guide to Kas, Antalya
The hillside town of Kaş (the little squiggle under the s gives it a "sh" sound, so the town's name is pronounced KASH) is a charming tourist destination in the Antalya province of Turkey. It seems to cater to the affluent visitor, with more high-end shops, cafes and bars, than we see in some other coastal towns in along the Lycian Coast. Fortunately, there are strict regulations in place that prohibit businesses from excessive solicitation – creating a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere for tourists wanting to explore the town at their leisure.
With all of its appeal, you'd expect Kas to be a popular and crowded holiday resort. But three factors may be its saving grace, preventing the picturesque town from attracting the masses.
- As mentioned above, the town is built onto the side of a hill, which can pose a challenge for those with mobility issues.
- The local beaches are pebbly, rather than sandy.
- The nearest airports are more than 3 hours away. (Kas is equidistant from Dalaman and Antalya.)
For these reasons, some people fail to see the appeal of the tiny seaside resort town.
History of Kas
Originally named Habesos (or Habesa) by the Lycians, the town's importance is evident from the number of sarcophagi and rock tombs in the surrounding area. One of the most prominent sarcophagi is the Monument Tomb (also called King's Tomb) located at the top of Uzun Carsi Caddesi (the old main street of Kaş). Carved from a single block, the tomb's inscriptions date back to the 4th century BCE.
The port city was overtaken by the Romans during the Hellenistic period and renamed Antiphellos. The 4000-seat limestone theatre on the west side of town was built during this period. Set amongst an olive grove, the well-preserved theatre continues to be the perfect spot for visitors to watch the spectacular Mediterranean sunsets.
As with many cities along the Mediterranean coast, the population of Kas dropped to near zero at the conclusion of the Turkish War of Independence when the majority of Greek inhabitants abandoned everything to return to their homeland during a population exchange in 1923.
Present Day Kas
Since 1923, Kas grew from a virtually abandoned fishing village renowned for the quality of local sponges to the tourist destination of today. Present day Kaş (which means "eyebrow" in Turkish) lies nestled in the 500-meter cliffs leading to the sea. The surrounding hills are filled with greenhouses, the produce of which is sold to visitors from near and far during the popular weekly market held each Friday.
Tightly packed with boats for fishing, diving and day trips to the nearby Kekova region (in particular, Simena Castle, the Sunken City of Kekova and the Greek island of Kastellorizo (Meis), the bustling harbour remains the center of life in this coastal town. Brightly coloured murals line the wall protecting the harbour from the sea. A small lighthouse stands guard on the top of the harbour wall, guiding sailors back to the safety of the harbour after dark. A large, private marina was built in 2011 to support the growth of private yachting in the region and take some pressure off the public harbour.
Scuba Diving in the Kas Antalya Region
Because of the sparkling clear water in the region, Kas is noted as a scuba diving center of excellence in Turkey. Pleasant water temperatures (reaching nearly 30º C late in the season), visibility of up to 40 meters, underwater caves, submerged ruins of ancient civilizations, plane and ship wrecks (including a recreation of the wreck of Uluburun from the late 14th century BC), and plenty of sea life draw dive-loving visitors from around the globe.
Most of our guests enjoy spending a few hours exploring Kas and shopping in the boutiques that line the winding streets, but it is usually the opportunity for scuba driving that gets their hearts racing.
The Beauty of Kas and Surrounding Area
Updated September 19, 2021
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