Cruising along the Turkish Riviera on board a private charter gulet
Luxury yacht charters in Turkey are centred along the Aegean coast in the south and west of the country where the clear blue water gives the Turquoise Coast its name. There are an infinite number of secluded bays, lovely bustling harbours and cities such as Bodrum, Fethiye or Marmaris where visitors get the opportunity to embrace the fascinating history and diverse culture of the region.
Turkey is emerging as one of the most sought-after charter destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean and is well known for its traditional gulets, classic wooden yachts which can be seen sailing up and down the coast – a great way to connect with the local culture. Many gulets are true classics, even down to the original rigging and engineering, while new state-of-the-art vessels have been specifically designed and constructed with five-star private charters in mind. Largely crewed by experienced locals, service on board is exemplary, characterized by the team’s local knowledge, passion and commitment. In the galley, the onboard chefs will create delicious meals using the best quality local ingredients likely influenced by the Asian and Mediterranean dishes popular in Turkey.
Chartering a yacht is such a unique experience and can make a perfect vacation for extended families looking for an adventure to suit all ages. Active teenagers can make the most of the water toys (most yachts have a great choice) while little ones will love a tender ride to a white sandy beach. Grandparents can go ashore too, to soak up the culture and history of the region and maybe enjoy a quieter private lunch! Dinner on board will likely be a leisurely affair with plenty of delicious food, drinks and laughter as stories from the day are recalled. If the family have already flown the nest and are on their own life journey, charting a yacht with friends can be a great way to celebrate an important birthday or anniversary. Crews are happy to create bespoke celebrations and a good charter broker will plan an itinerary encompassing each guest’s requirements. The first part of a Turkish adventure might take in the Northern part of the coast from Cesme down to Bodrum.
A diverse itinerary along the Northern Turquoise Coast
A charter along the Turquoise Coast takes in the sights over a few days or a few weeks and divides guests’ time equally between stunning natural wonders including a particularly lush landscape, the marvels of ancient civilisations, plus contemporary culture and cuisine found in the towns and cities along the route.
Consider starting your charter in the Northern town of Cesme which was originally a quaint and rustic fishing village until it was discovered and transformed into a vibrant destination. Now home to a fabulous Marina offering a range of chic shops and restaurants, the town still retains much of its authentic charm. A visit to Cesme Castle, to the west of the main square, informs about the history of local fortifications and offers views across the town, harbour and coastline. Heading a short distance from the centre, Sifne is a small village well known for its mud baths and therapeutic pools built right on the beach.
Kusadasi is another popular starting point for charters, where the aroma of local cuisine fills the streets as you explore any of the local bazaars to browse handmade carpets, rugs and crafts. Unwind from a busy day in one of the beautiful hammams to be found throughout the city, of which ‘Hammam Kusadasi’ is the oldest and most traditional, built in the late 15th Century. Once you are settled on board, it is a short cruise to the Dilek National Park which is full of secluded bays perfect for sunbathing or strolling along the white sand or perhaps an afternoon of fun with the water toys.
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Before heading further south along the coast, a 20-minute inland drive to visit the archaeological region around Ephesus is a must. The onboard crew can arrange transport or book a guided tour to take in the ruins of the Temple of Artemis and the Ancient Greek city of Ephesus now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A leisurely day’s cruise south will allow you to recharge and enjoy the luxury amenities on board your charter yacht. The crew will make sure you want for nothing as you sit back and sip a cocktail, taste the delicacies from the galley and take in the views. You’ll need the rest before landing in Gol Turkbuku, where a whole other world of glitz and glamour will tempt you ashore. Here is where the affluent residents of Turkey’s big cities spend their summers, surrounded by luxury spa resorts, fine dining, cool clubs and luxury boutiques.
If you wake up from your night out in Gol Turkbuku feeling a little worse for wear, the crew will serve you a tasty breakfast, coffee and juice to revive even the weariest of party animals. Take a dip in the cool Aegean Sea followed by a lazy morning sunbathing on deck as the captain sails your yacht around the south of the peninsula to Bodrum. The word “Bodrum” means “subterranean vault” and the name is a reference to the ancient tombs built for King Mausolus during 355 BC, once declared as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Largely destroyed by earthquakes from the 12th-15th Century the ruins are now part of an open-air museum. Having explored this ancient wonder, the modern, cosmopolitan city of Bodrum has plenty to offer including the vibrant Marina Yacht Club which overlooks Bodrum Castle and boasts a choice of three restaurants offering a unique blend of Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine.
From Bodrum, there are opportunities to extend your charter to visit some of the Greek Islands in the Dodecanese, such as Kos, Symi or Rhodes. Experience the famous Greek hospitality and explore the cultural differences before returning to Turkish waters and sailing the southern part of the Turquoise Coast from Marmaris around to Antalya.
In our blog next month, we will continue down the coast with our recommendations for luxury charter experiences in the south of Turkey.
Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide.
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