Turkey , with a label like “cradle of civilisations”, has held a special fascination for travellers throughout history. The turquoise coast, stretching from Kusadasi to Antalya, adorned by nature with numerous bays and inlets, is ideal for yachting vacations. These wonderful bays, where mythological legends had taken place, offer ancient tombs carved high into cliffs, sunken remnants of ancient Greek and Roman civilisations, and deserted coves awaiting your discovery.
Away from the genteel tranquillity of the tiny hamlets dotted along the coastline, Bodrum has captured a microcosm of Western life-and is enjoying every minute of it! Bars and bazaars buzz with activity. For Bodrum has evolved from its early days of boat building and fishing to a vibrant centre in tune with the twentieth century. Overlooked by the magnificent 15th century crusader Castle of St Peter, which now houses a fascinating museum of underwater archaeology, the Bodrum of today thrive son a truly cosmopolitan atmosphere. Regarded by many as the St Tropez of Turkey, it offers a wealth of shopping facilities and kaleidoscopic nightlife. Beautiful yacht marina and harbour side square. In all, a spectacle and an experience not to be missed.
The Gulf of Gökova
As you head into the Gulf of Gökova, you will discover an almost deserted coastline, which agreeably manifests itself into beautiful anchorages and sleepy fishing villages. Remote and largely unblemished, you will seldom fail to find a deserted bay. The hamlets around the Gulf are virtually isolated, unlike ancient times when this Gulf boasted numerous great cities near the water. Among the specific points of interest within the Gulf are places like Kara Adasi, a large island south east of Bodrum. Here you can anchor and make your way ashore to investigate the hot mineral springs, said to be beneficial for those ailing with rheumatism and arthritis. Along the coast to the east, call into the tiny hamlet of Çökertme. A small cluster of houses, a couple of restaurants and a cottage industry of traditional carpet making provide yet another idyllic setting. As is often the case with these villages, the locals are incredibly friendly and you are likely to be treated as a guest rather than a tourist. Cruise eastwards to Snake and Castle Islands. Here you will find the ruins of an old amphitheatre complete with a friendly guide to show you round. On the far side of Castle Island is the beautiful Cleopatra’s beach. Legend has it that Cleopatra imported the sand from Egypt to make a beach on which she and Anthony could sunbathe. Fascinatingly, no similar sand is found in the area and recent analysis indicates that is does in fact come from Egypt. Towards the head of the Gulf lies Karacasöğüt, a land locked tree-lined bay, providing a stunning setting for yachts. Should you go west, you will be drawn in to the enchantment of the Yedi Adalar, (Seven Islands), where the numerous anchorages virtually guarantee you your own private bay for the night.
At the western tip of the Dorian Promontory, where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas converge, lies an intriguing slice of ancient history. Today, Knidos is a small hamlet with a picturesque harbour. Back in the 4th century BC it was the site of a great centre of the arts and a city of some 70,000 inhabitants. It was also the home of Sostratos, the architect who built the Pharos lighthouse at Alexandria-one of the Seven Wonders of the World. There’s also the fascinating legend of Aphrodite to discover here. Food for thought, perhaps, whilst enjoying a meal in one of the restaurants set amidst the old city ruins.
The Hisarönü Gulf
Cruising the Hisarönü Gulf is an experience to behold. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Scented pine covered mountains and an inky blue sea invigorate the senses and the glaring white cliffs rising out of the shoreline lend a majestic appearance to the whole area. There are literally hundreds of little inlets and anchorages along the way: some just large enough for one or two boats to snuggle into. Small and large settlements are dotted along the coastline where the locals eke out a living from the gifts of nature. The villages of Palamut, with its fine beach and crystal clear waters, and Datca with its warm and friendly inhabitants are well worth calling in to. Further south you can enjoy some great sailing around the Greek islands of Simi. At the eastern end of the Gulf there is a large bay, (Turkish:’bükü’), which holds all manner of secrets. Keçi Bükü is a favourite retreat with many yacht charterers. For fine examples of local traditions, cruise into Bozburun. The local boat builders are normally hard at work making their traditional craft and it is an opportune moment to restock with fresh supplies. Between Bozburun and Marmaris there are a number of bays and inlets to explore.
Marmaris Fjord offers over 20 square miles of sheltered water and the town itself is a truly international sailing centre. At the quayside and anchored off in the bay you will see large ocean-going yachts from all over the world. A bustling resort, Marmaris is a cheerful blend of ancient and modern. The Ottoman castle built by Sultan Suleyman I in 1522 overlooks panoramic views of the vibrant and colourful activity below of many worlds at leisure. In the town and along the quayside you will find numerous restaurants and cafes where you can sample every taste of Turkish cuisine and watch the East go by.
Ancient Caunus and Dalyan River
A trip up to the Dalyan River to Ancient Caunus is a must if you have not had the opportunity on a previous cruise. Leaving your own yacht at anchor at the tiny village of Ekincik, you travel up the Dalyan River on a local shallow draft boat. The river meanders for several miles through ten-foot high reed beds and you can easily lose your sense of direction as your boat twists and turns between the banks. Suddenly, the river gives way to high cliffs. Set in the steep cliff face are several Lycian rock tombs dating back to the 4th century BC. They are believed to have been carved by stonemasons suspended on ropes from the cliff top. Ashore you can explore the ruins of the ancient city of Caunus. It was once a port, but inexorably the sea receded together with its inhabitants. Today, you can see that remains of the old city walls, the roman baths and a Greco-Roman theatre capable at one time of seating 20,000 people. For the more adventurous, there’s an opportunity to take a dip in the nearby sulphur mud baths, believed to cure a long list of ailments, followed by a refreshing swim off the boat in the fresh water lake before returning back down river to your yacht.
Göcek and Fethiye Bay
Gocek’s pretty waterfront, with its incredible backdrop of high mountains and pine forests, is a popular base of yachts cruising the Gulf. There are a number of good restaurants ashore and the local shops are well stocked to provide you with fresh provisions. Göcek is only 20 km away from Dalaman International Airport. Fethiye Bay is a yachtsman’s paradise with numerous islands and inlets to explore. In the bay itself you can quietly explore places with names like Four Fathom Bay, Tomb Bay, Twenty Two Fathom Cove, Ruin Bay and Wall Bay which make for cruising as fascinating as their names suggest. The whole area is literally littered with ruins, above and below the water. It is perfect place to get your snorkelling gear out and explore the relics of the Byzantine and Lycian era. Cruising in this area would not be complete without mooring off Gemiler Island and absorbing the splendour of Olu Deniz. It is the very picture of a holiday in Turkey. The white sandy beaches, which embrace a deep blue lagoon, continue to attract sun worshippers. Cruising on from Olu Deniz you enter the Eastern Lycian area.
Nettling at the head of a large bay, the village of Kalkan, boasts a well-sheltered harbour with a number of quite sophisticated bars and restaurants along the shore. Climb the steps behind the village and you will find even more restaurants shaded by Eucalyptus trees. Kalkan is the nearest safe harbour from which to visit the fascinating archaeological site of ancient Patara and Xanthos.
The area is steeped in history. Further along the coast and sheltered by the Greek island of Kastellorizon, the very pleasant town of Kas lies at the foot of the steep hillsides. It might not appear much from a distance, but boasts several waterside restaurants, an open-air market with all types of fresh vegetables and two bakers’ shops nearby. Behind the town square, shaded by tall pine trees, are a multitude of shops selling carpets and Turkish clothes.
For some of the best cruising waters in the whole of Turkey you need look no further than Kekova Roads. You arrive at Kekova not as a tourist but as a traveller, for you will be absorbed into the remains of an ancient Lycian civilization. Much of the city sank beneath the sea in an earthquake and you can still see the stone sarcophagi just above the water and steps leading down to buildings beneath the waterline. Kaleköy Castle (ancient Simena) offers a bird's-eye view of the bays, inlets, islands and colourful yachts sailing peacefully on the glassy water. The colours in a Van Gogh painting, blue skies, orange sunsets, starry, starry nights, peace and tranquility, playful dolphins, mythological mysteries, and the sparkling sea - Kekova provides all this and more.
Demre - Finike
At Demre (Kale), the ancient Myra, (25 km west of Finike), many splendidly carved rock tombs overlook the magnificent Roman theatre. St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) was the bishop of this Mediterranean city during the fourth century and died here in 342. An official entry-port, Finike is surrounded by citrus trees and gardens. Thirty-two kilometres from the Finike Marina lie the remains of the beautiful and ancient Lycian city of Arikanda. This excursion inland, a mountain trek, rewards you with superb views, fabulous ruins and fresh mountain air.
Gulf of AntalyaSlipping around the Kırlangıç Peninsula brings you into the Gulf of Antalya. The first sight you come to is the ancient city of Olympos, on the southern side of Mt. Tahtalı (Mt. Olympos). Oleander and laurel bushes shade the Olympos Valley, which you can approach by land as well as by sea. Nearby at Yanartaş (at a height of 300 meters), according to mythology, the Lycian hero Bellerophon, mounted on his winged horse Pegasus slew the fire-breathing monster, Chimaera. Gas which seeps from the earth burns brightly at night. The Byzantines also considered this place a religious area. Alexander the Great's favourite winter resort was at Phaselis, the famous ancient commercial harbour north of Olympos. South of the harbour, look up at Mt. Tahtalı for a spectacular view. Sail on to Kemer, a resort town carefully designed to blend in with the surrounding scenery, that offers an ideal environment for a wonderful holiday. The fully equipped Kemer Turban Marina has facilities for all activities so that yachtsmen can enjoy the unspoilt bays and beaches south of the town. Shoppers will delight at the wonderful range of high quality souvenirs. April is the month of the colourful Kemer Carnival.
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