Sailing the Turquoise Coast
A sailing odyssey along the “Turkish Riviera,” where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet, unveils the glories of Turkey’s ancient cultures. Whether chartered by a group or family, or individually rented by the cabin, a fully crewed wooden gulet, the two-masted diesel-propelled boat of traditional design, is the perfect way to explore the 230-mile serpentine Lycian coast, much of which is inaccessible by car.
Here the waters take on a luminous blue that can be found nowhere else in Europe (hence the names Turquoise Coast and mavi yolculuk, or Blue Voyage) and provide the perfect backdrop to Greco-Roman ruins, sun-drenched beaches, simple lunches of fresh fish at cheerful dockside cafés, and even a small island given to Cleopatra as a gift by Marc Anthony.
Cruises usually cast off from the ancient port cities of Marmaris, Antalya, and Bodrum, the latter a former fishing village and charming seaside resort whose harbor is dominated by the striking Petronion, or Castle of St. Peter, built by the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem in 1402.
Surrounded on three sides by water, it is one of the last and finest examples of Crusader architecture in the East, and was built from the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the marble 4th century B.C. tomb built for King Mausolus by his sister and wife, Artemesia. As grand a tomb as has ever been built, it gave the English language the word “mausoleum” and stood for 1,500 years before being felled by an earthquake.
Bodrum has changed considerably in the last decade and is best known today as the yachting center of the Aegean. These are supreme cruising waters, with no fewer than eighty anchorages listed between Bodrum and Antalya.
Most gulet cruises are booked for a week, but even a day trip south to the gorgeous mountain-rimmed Gökova Körfezi (Gökova Gulf) is worth it for the pleasures of a secluded cove and a simple fish lunch prepared by your crew. Generally speaking, cruises east of Marmaris take in classical sites, mixed in with some spectacular scenery, while the Aegean voyage west of Marmaris has a less ancient bent.