The beauty of the Turkish Rivera is endless and, no matter how many times you visit the area, you will always find some new hidden treasure or in some cases its right in front of you! That’s why, this month, we return to Kaş, which lies about a three hour drive west from Antalya. From Kaş we make a trip to the Greek Island Kaştellorizo or Castellorizo (Castle Rock) which is known as Meis (Megiste) Island in Turkey.
From Kaş, when you look over the sea, you can easily spot Meis. This Greek island is just 2km away and takes 30 mins by boat. You would not guess this small place – 30km from North to South – is actually world famous! In 1991 Meis was the setting of the movie ‘Mediterraneo’ by Gabriele Salvatores. It won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language.
Meis is the principle Greek island nested in the middle of a cluster of Greek islands in the area. The island was colonised by Dorian Greeks during the Hellenistic period and has been occupied by several nations throughout its troubled history: Greek, Italian, British, French…
The prosperous days started for Kaştellorizo at the end of the 19th century thanks to fishing and shipping and the island was developed with beautiful mansions along the coast.
Up to about 1930, over 14,000 people lived on the island however emigration, particularly to Australia, reduced the population to its present day figure of approximately 400.
‘Everybody down! Mind your Head’
Something you should really see when visiting Meis is the so-called Blue Cave. It is located on the south east side of the island and there are several boat trips available from the harbour. The boat trip takes approximately 15 minutes, passing by the only 4th century BC Lycian Grave on the island (on the east side of the harbour).
The sea is a bit choppy so make sure you leave time after your breakfast or meal.
The entrance to the cave is very low so before you enter, they shout: ‘Everyone Down! Mind your head’.
And you better obey! At the mouth of the cave, there is just enough room for the boat to go through, timed at the bottom of the waves. Once you are inside, you realise the simple beauty of nature, it’s really blue! The reflection of the sunlight, streaming through the restricted cave opening, onto and through the sea water, creates the most alluring turquoise…absolutely beautiful!
The Blue Cave is 10m deep, 75m long, 20m wide and 30m high. There are several stalactites around the perimeter and it’s a favourite place for seals to rest.
After the Blue Cave, it is time to explore the harbour. On approach to the island, the ruin of the Castle of the Knights (14th century) is very evident on the east side, perched at the end of the cape. There is a short climb to the castle with steps and ramped walk ways on the west side. On the east side is via a lot of steps!!….but make the effort because it’s worth it for the view! The castle was demolished and restored many times throughout the years.
The harbour is very eloquent with seamless integration of new and old buildings. All along the key there are many nice bars/restaurants, land and sea guide services, souvenir shops……….everything you would need. There is several ancient and historical building on the cape; a museum is also located there.
Fresh sea food
There is a distinctive relaxing atmosphere on the island. Fresh sea food is available in abundance in all the café’s with a selection of different cuisines to suit all palates; the local brew was called Alfa (AAΦA) beer. We enjoyed a relaxing lunch, by the sea, at the Paragadi Restaurant where our hostess was both polite and informative. For the local residents, life goes on as normal on the island. Goods and supplies are brought across from Turkey and the everyday maintenance works are the same as any other place!
Visiting Meis: going from Turkey to Europe
Going to Meis, you have to go through full visa control as you are effectively travelling from Asia to Europe with all the associated procedures and benefits. You can relax at your hotel or wander around Kaş while this procedure is carried out. All you have to do is go to the Meis Express office at the harbour, hand in your passport and pay the associated fee. On boarding the Meis Express your passport is returned to you for passport inspection on the island. Your passport is retained by passport control and you collect it from the Meis Express office about a half hour after your arrive back in Kaş.
Please check www.meisexpress.com for the most updated ferry departure-arrival times and prices.
This article was published in Hello Alanya Magazine of May 2014 and updated on 9 March 2017
Important information: We do our best to keep our content updated, however, changes can occur. Therefore we strongly advise before making a trip, that you check availability and costs of transportation and also any opening hours and/or entrance fees.