Dalyan is a small town within the Mugla province located between the well-known districts of Marmaris and Fethiye on the south-west coast of Turkey. Mugla is one of the relatively undiscovered areas of Turkey. Although Marmaris and Fethiye are very popular there are many smaller towns that are much quieter.
Dalyan was originally a countryside village of fishermen and farmers but is now a very popular tourist destination. There are many bars and restaurants in the town but it manages to retain its small, friendly vibe.
At just 25 km from Dalaman airport , transfer times are refreshingly short.
Dalyan achieved international fame in 1987 when developers wanted to build a luxury hotel on the nearby Iztuzu Beach, a breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead turtles. The incident created major international storm when David Bellamy championed the cause of conservationists such as June Haimoff, Peter Günther, Nergis Yazgan and Keith Corbett. The development project was temporarily stopped after Prince Phillip called for a moratorium and in 1988 the beach and its surroundings were declared a protected area. The Koycegiz -Dalyan Special Environmental Protection Area.
There are two ways to access the Iztuzu beach from Dalyan. Starting from Dalyan Harbour, voyage through the beds of bulrushes and pampas grass. This takes around 45 enjoyable minutes – the entire Delta is a protected maze of channels which comprise of 1700 hectares of reed beds, and four lakes. The largest lake being 55km2 with a channel that links it to the Mediterranean Sea. There are 18 species of fish, 5 of turtles, 13 of snakes, 18 of mammals and hundreds of bird species
The famous and very rare Caretta Caretta Turtle (some reaching up to a staggering 200 kilos) has been in existence for 95 million years. It returns each year to lay its eggs on the protected Iztuzu Beach. For this reason the beach is closed to the public from 8pm-8am during the nesting season. There is also a minibus services and the road route is particularly scenic, offering views of Sulungur Lake.
Life in Dalyan revolves around the Dalyan Çayı River which flows past the town. The boats that ply up and down the river, navigating the maze of reeds, are the preferred means of transport to all the local sites. At one end the Koycegiz Lake, at the other end Iztuzu Beach.
Dalyan means “fishing weir” in Turkish. Bass, Mullet and Sea Bream swim upstream from the sea to Köyceğiz Lake. The fish spawn there, and when returning to the sea they are caught in the “dalyans”.
In addition to its attraction as a tourist destination, the region around Dalyan is a highly productive agricultural zone. Cotton used to be grown intensively, but has now largely been replaced by pomegranate.
Many other fruits (citrus fruits) and vegetables are grown, which are all on display in the market on Saturdays, the day when villagers come from miles around to sell their products.