Simena is a popular Lycian site, situated upon one of the most attractive spots of the Turkish coast. The name "Kekova" is Turkish for "plain of thyme" and describes the region encompassing the island of Kekova, the villages of Kaleköy and Üçağiz and the three ancient towns of Simena, Teimussa and Tersane (meaning "shipyard", as its bay was the site of an ancient shipyard, with mostly Byzantine ruins). Both Simena and Teimussa have a large necropolis. Teimussa is now the village of Üçağiz, where boats set off for tours of the area.
The Kekova region was declared a Specially Protected Area in 1990 to protect the natural, cultural and geographic richness of Kekova Island and surrounding coast. The Kekova Specially Protected Area is 260 km² and is managed by the Ministry of Environment, Authority for the Protection of Special Areas.
Kekova-Simena is an enjoyable place to visit for its great beauty and charm. For this reason, it is popular with yachties (known to them as "Kekova Roads") on their Blue Cruises along Lycia's Turquoise Coast. In fact, cruising yachts often anchor here for several weeks at a time. It is a peaceful place of history, gorgeous turquoise water, sun, islands, unspoilt nature, blue skies and wonderful(!!) swimming.
The ancient Lycian sunken city of Simena is often referred to as Kekova-Simena. The city is a charming mix of ancient, medieval and modern history making it interesting as well as beautiful. In ancient times Simena was a small fishing village and was later an outpost of the Knights of Rhodes (formerly of St. John).
The ancient city of Simena was once of two parts - an island and a coastal part of the mainland. On the mainland the charming fishing village of Kaleköy ("castle village") stands today, its buildings mingling with ancient and medieval structures. The top of the village is dominated by a well-preserved castle built by the Knights of Rhodes partially upon ancient Lycian foundations. Inside the castle is the smallest amphitheatre of Lycia. At the eastern end of the village is a Lycian necropolis with a cluster of some very nice sarcophagi overlooking the sea and surrounded by ancient olive trees. Near the harbour of Kaleköy is another sarcophagus, popping up from the water. Across the bay, along the island are the half-submerged ruins of the residential part of Simena, caused by the downward shift of land by the terrible earthquakes of the 2nd century AD. Half of the houses are submerged and staircases descend into the water. Foundations of buildings and the ancient harbor are also seen below the sea. (see photos below)