The word turquoise comes from Turkey, and once you’ve seen the incredible blue waters along the country’s Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines, you’ll understand why. There’s no better way to explore this fascinating world than by sea, and a gulet charter in Turkey lets you do just that. A gulet is a traditional Turkish sailboat, though nowadays they come with all modern amenities including TVs and jacuzzis.
A Guide to the Turquoise Coast
The Turkish coastline gives you the full panorama of the human experience. From ancient archeological remains to high adventures in paragliding, with timeless villages, posh hotels and local hospitality, it’s a whole world to discover. The most popular sailing destinations are along the southwestern coast, which is known as the Turkish Riviera. This coastline includes parts of the Turkish Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, from İzmir to Antalya, by way of Kuşadası, Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye and Kaş.
The tourist season is from May to September, when the winds and water are ideal for sailing along the coast with its inlets, coves beaches, resorts and villages.
With a spectacular backdrop of densely-forested mountains, you can spend hours or days taking in the scenery as you drift through clear waters. But there’s also plenty to see and do when you drop anchor and venture ashore.
This bustling city is the starting point for many cruises heading eastwards. The museum is likewise an excellent introduction to the history and culture of the region, with an impressive collection of artifacts since Lycian times. The Tomb of Amyntas, which dates back to 350 BC, is worth a visit as well.
Oludeniz is famous for the beach at the Blue Lagoon, which regularly makes it to the top of lists of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. If you’re feeling adventurous and have a good head for heights, you can try paragliding. Oludeniz is the starting point for the Lycian Trail, which is one of the most important hiking routes in Turkey. There are also plenty of bars and cafes where you can chill out after your adventures.
A quiet cove which can only be reached by sea leads to Butterfly Valley, a canyon which has been turned into a butterfly farm. The best season to visit is in summer, when there are hundreds of species of butterflies. There is a basic campsite and bar for visitors.
Gemiler or Nicholas Island
Nicholas Island is thought to be the burial place of Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra who lived in the 4th century AD. He is thought to be the prototype of Santa Claus. Besides bringing gifts the needy, he was also the patron saint of sailors, travelers and children.
Though the island is no longer inhabited, it is home to the Sunken City, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was mostly submerged following an earthquake in the second century AD. The best way to see it is to sail by. Among the ruins you can see dockyards, buildings, rooms and stairways, and even a church. Swimming in the waters is not allowed, to preserve the remains.
A short hike up the hill brings you to a spectacular fortress that once belonged to the Knights of Rhodes. Visitors can take in the spectacular view of turquoise seas and idyllic islands.
The beach is home to the sea turtle rescue center, which saves loggerhead and green turtles who have been injured by fishing hooks, nets and boat propellers. The center also has turtle watching cruises.
Th ancient city of Olympos was part of the Lycian Union, whose members were maritime trading cities. Now the city is famous for its beautiful beach and for the ancient ruins in the old town. These include both Roman and Byzantine remains. Among the Roman era structures, you must see the baths, temple, the Roman theatre and necropolis.
Olympos is a popular destination for rock climbers and scuba divers, and famous for its treehouse accommodations.
The town has an attractive harbor and winding lanes full of quaint shops and cafes. It’s a popular destination for divers in the clear waters.
Antalya is the largest city in the region on the Mediterranean coast, with the Taurus mountain range as the backdrop. Ancient ruins, natural beauty, the scenic harbor and quaint old town are the major attractions. Antalya is the other end of the Lycian Way hiking trail which begins at Fethiye. It takes hikers 29 days to travel between the two points.
Once you’ve sailed the Turquoise Coast, you’ll want to return again and again. It has enough adventures and mysteries to last a lifetime.