St Nicholas Island is located in the South-West of Turkey between Öludeniz and Fethiye. The name ‘St Nicholas’ arose when researchers stumbled across an early Christian pilgrimage centre which housed the remains of St Nicholas himself. The saint, who is often referred to as Santa Claus, was said to have been born at the nearby village of Patara and the island is allegedly his original resting place before pirate raids increased and the remains were moved to the St Nicolas Church in Demre, situated to the east of Fethiye, and finally moved to Bari, Italy.
This tiny island is scattered with the remains of five churches, around forty other religious buildings, a Christian cemetery and a processional way, all dating between the fourth and the sixth century. St Nicholas Island is a stunning place to visit and offers a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding islands.
St Nicholas Island is also known as Gemiler Island, which means ‘Island of Boats’. The enclosed bay behind has for a long time served as an anchoring point for yachts and ships, due to its calm sheltered waters. Today Daily boat tours stop here for lunch and swimming while some Blue Cruises settle in the bay for a calm night on the aquamarine water.
The island can be reached by boat from Fethiye but if you prefer you could take an inland route through the Ghost Town of Kayakoy, from here there are frequent buses or a 6-kilometre hiking trail to Gelimer Bay where you can either take a small boat or swim the short distance to the St Nicolas Island.