Destination Guide: Turkey

Historic places dating back to B.C. times, beautiful vistas, a mixture of Western and Eastern cultures, and more make Turkey a favorite yacht-charter destination. Motoryachts and sailing yachts alike, as well as traditional Turkish gulets, all await. Missy Johnston of Northrop & Johnson Worldwide Yacht Charters can personally attest to the enjoyment to be had sailing aboard the 183-foot charter yacht Regina, pictured here. She was a guest aboard Regina last summer and describes the yacht as being “styled with the elegance of a streamlined Turkish gulet with the varnished wood of a true ‘gentleman’s’ yacht.”

Johnston also recommends indulging in the following itinerary.


Day 1: Bodrum

Board in Bodrum, and stretch your legs with a walk around the close by Bodrum Bazaar or settle in for your first on board dinner on deck under the shadow of the Crusader Castle. After dinner, the bazaar is still alive and hopping, with shops and night clubs open until the wee morning hours.


Day 2: Bodrum to Gulf of Gekova

Before setting off on your cruise in the morning, explore Bodrum, or ancient Halicarnassus, which is situated on a peninsula facing the island of Kos, and is the hometown of Herodotus, known to some as the Father of History. Guarding the harbor is a virtually intact castle built by the Crusaders. It houses an excellent underwater archaeological museum containing artifacts found in wrecks along the ancient trading route where you will be sailing. This is a must see.

Bodrum also has a very nice bazaar and an attractive town located around the harbor. After lunch, set sail to explore the Gulf of Gekova, where there are many beautiful anchorages and protected areas for swimming and sunning, in unspoiled natural settings. Visit Cleopatra’s Beach (pictured above), bearing fine white sand that’s unusual for the area. It was reportedly imported from Egypt by Marc Anthony for Cleopatra. This area of the bay is home to three small islands offering several anchorage options for overnight.


Day 3: Gulf of Gekova to Knidos

In the morning have breakfast in the quiet beauty of your anchorage. Then cruise along the coast, with the Greek Dodecanese Islands in sight in the distance, to the harbor of the ruins of the city of Knidos.  This ancient city, sitting on a clear-water cove at the tip of the Doric Peninsula, was a center of art and culture in the 4th century B.C. Drop anchor in the larger of the two harbors, and enjoy lunch surrounded by ruins. Then go ashore to visit the site of Knidos, which includes city walls, two theaters, terraced streets, and the remains of several temples, including the temple of Aphrodite.

Remain at anchor for dinner under the stars or leave for another quiet anchorage.


Day 4: Knidos to Datca

Cruise in the morning to the little seaside village of Datca. After lunch onboard, explore the town, the honey capital of Turkey, and visit the shops. A taxi can take you for about a 10-minute ride to Old Datca for a stop first at an artisan olive-oil farm, then to the Mehmet Museum Hotel, housed in an 1800s-era mansion of the former governor of Datca Peninsula and filled with antiques. Inside the main mansion is a wood-burning hamam, or Turkish bath, from the 1800s. If reserved in advance, the hamam can be fired up, and for an additional charge, all can take turns relaxing and steaming clean, then relaxing in the sun at the resort pool. The hotel’s restaurant is well known for baked lamb cooked in outdoor wood-burning ovens, and must be ordered in advance. Most of the restaurant food is grown on site: olive oil is pressed from olives from their own trees, honey is gathered from their hives, and bread is baked in the outdoor oven. This is a truly special experience of traditional fresh Turkish fare prepared in traditional methods. Eat dinner at the restaurant, or return to the yacht to find a quiet anchorage to overnight with dinner onboard.


Day 5: Datca to Serce Limani

Sail to the excellent, land-locked, natural harbor of Serce Limani to anchor overnight. Serce was the site of an interesting wreck excavation, and its cargo remains are housed in the underwater archaeology museum in Bodrum. This is a great location for swimming and other watersports, giving you time to relax and enjoy being onboard along the Turkish coast. Have dinner on deck under the stars.

Day 6: Serce Limani to Marmaris

After breakfast, leave for Marmaris, a bazaar town full of crafty rug merchants and waterfront restaurants. Well-protected Marmaris Castle was built in the 16th century during Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s journey to conquer Rhodes. Come into the main quay of Marmaris stern-to for a day of exploring in the many shop-filled alleyways that spider off from the main quay. On the main quay and throughout the bazaar are numerous rug shops. Prepare to settle in for several hours sipping apple tea or wine or even raki, while rug after rug is tossed out in front of you for discussion, negotiation, or just general comment. Rug “purchasing” has been known to go on until the early hours of the morning. Regarless, any rug you purchase can be shipped.


Day 7: Marmaris to Gocek  

An early-morning departure, with breakfast underway, is on order, so that you can make it to Ekincik for a trip along the Dalyan River. On arrival mid-morning, a flat-bottomed river boat with a driver and private guide will appear alongside to pick you up from your yacht. This tour takes you inland along the reed-lined channels of the Dalyan River delta, where you should keep an eye out for turtles, herons, and kingfishers. At Caunos, visit the remains of a theater, a Byzantine church, a Roman bathhouse, and an agora, a central gathering area akin to the Roman forums. If you’re adventurous, climb the hill above the site, and you’ll find an acropolis, plus be rewarded with a magnificent view. Head upriver to the town of Dalyan, and pass beneath the Lycian Tombs (above). Stop in the town of Dalyan for lunch at a riverside taverna for fresh Dalyan River seafood and other fresh Turkish food. Take a brief stroll through the town before returning by river boat to the yacht in Ekincik.

Head towards Gocek Bay, to anchor and swim through the ruins of Cleopatra’s Baths. Overnight at anchor to enjoy your last dinner aboard.


Day 8: Departure
Disembark in Gocek in the morning for your transfer to Dalaman airport. There, you’ll catch a flight to Istanbul and eventually back home.

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