About Gumbet Beach
Somewhere in the middle of Gumbet is a small, entirely hidden original village that has been swamped by the modern resort. From the 1970s onwards, this satellite grew up along the nearest sandy beach to Bodrum town, but has now become a fully-fledged resort in its own right; a sea of neon and waves of lager crash upon the shores. People come here for gentle, hungover watersports by day and to party by night, with a bit of sunbathing and souvenir shopping in between.
The beach is the reason for Gumbet’s existence, a curving kilometre or so of sand that is lined the whole way with hotels, bars and restaurants, all of whom put out sunbeds and umbrellas that are free to use as long as you keep drinking. Waiters run up and down the beach to serve you while a little further out, grown men in lobster pink are falling off banana boats and ringos. The more adventurous can try windsurfing, jet skiing and paragliding. There is an official topless beach a short distance out of town (not something normally permitted in Turkey).
Beyond the beach:
There really isn’t anything much beyond the beach apart from a few shops and of course, huge numbers of bars and discos. The windmills up on the hill above the town offer a great view but the insalubrious debris and scattering of drunks makes them less appealing. Head into Bodrum to the magnificent Crusader Castle of St Peter, now home to a fascinating Museum of Underwater Archaeology with a ship dating back to the 14th century BC amongst the carefully preserved wrecks. One of the best ways to spend a day is to take a Blue Cruise, a day trip on a gulet, meandering around the local islands, swimming and snorkelling in deserted coves, and visiting little-known archaeological sites.
The beach here is very family-friendly with its softly sloping sand, choice of not-too-energetic watersports and camel rides (on Kargi Beach), plenty of shade, drinks and toilets. Aquapark Dedeman is a huge water park with masses of slides and flumes at Ortakent; take a taxi or the free bus in high season.
It will be a long day but take a trip north along the coast to Ephesus and Selçuk, the magnificently preserved Roman city where St Paul preached to the Ephesians and where, supposedly, the Virgin Mary lived out her days. Also in the area are the ruined cities of Priene and Miletus, the imposing temple of Apollo at Didyma. Inland are yet more ruined cities, Aphrodisias and Hierapolis which stands next to the extraordinary ‘frozen falls’ of Pamukkale, where limestone has coated the side of the hill in fairytale cascade of pools. Or take your passport and a ferry over to the Greek island of Kos.
There really is nowhere in Gumbet worth splashing out on a meal, so head down the road into Bodrum if you want to celebrate. At the Secret Garden in a side street near the marina, an English chef serves classic French cuisine in a dreamily romantic setting. If you’d prefer the country, try Denizhan Turgut Reis Yolu, about 2.5km (1.5 miles) out of Bodrum, where the chefs lay on a dazzling performance with flaming kebabs in their glassed-in kitchen. But for the finest view, the place to be is the poolside restaurant at the Antique Theatre Hotel, where the food is matched by a panorama of twinkling city lights and moonlight dancing on the waves of Bodrum Bay behind the floodlit castle.