Kusadasi is the largest resort on Turkey’s Aegean Coast, used by cruise ships as the gateway to Ephesus. Beside the harbor, the walls of the tiny Old Town/Caravanserai encircle scores of shops, restaurants, and nightspots. Jutting into the bay is Pigeon Island, a charming islet topped by a small Genoese fortress, now home to cafés and bars. Divided from here by the town beach is a smart new marina attracting yachts from all over the world. Beyond, building development continues apace rising into the low hills that back the coastal plain. The narrow town beach is the least attractive option and in season swamped. A much more pleasant stretch is Kadinlar Beach (Ladies Beach), 3km (2 miles) south, though this also gets overcrowded in summer. Green Beach, a further 500m south is a pleasant small sandy beach with grassy areas under its palm trees. At weekends it is packed by locals. Long Beach, south of Kusadasi, stretches for over 3.5 miles (6 km) and services hotels and locals’ summer homes.
Around the town are several ‘beach club’ options. For a small fee, these offer deck chairs, sunshades, a café and/or restaurant, access to the water and/or a swimming pool, and possibly watersports. One of the best is the Papaz Hamami Beach Club next to Pigeon Island (by the causeway to Güvercin Ada). The most peaceful and uncommercialized beaches in the area are those in the Dilek National Park (Dilek Milli Parki), some 30km (19 miles) south of Kusadasi. The pine-backed shoreline is a mix of sand and pebbles and the beaches nearest to the park entrance are equipped with picnic tables, shower facilities, toilets, deck chairs, and a cafe restaurant.
The crystal-clear waters of the Aegean coastline mean that snorkeling and scuba-diving are very popular and there are numerous operators and diving centers. A ‘Blue Cruise’ – sailing along the Turkish coastline on a gulet (traditional sailing boat) – is an essential part of a Turkish holiday, even if it is only for a few hours. There are three waterparks close by. Adaland, at Ephesus Beach, Pamucak (15km/9.5 miles north), is one of the biggest in Europe and includes a dolphinarium and some unusual rides such as white water rafting. AquaFantasy, also at Ephesus Beach, is another large park with many rides and flumes. The smallest is Aqualand at Long Beach 10km (6 miles) south of town.