The best way to experience Turkey southern-western coast is undoubtedly by sea, for many years boating enthusiasts have been drawn to this region for its uncomparable natural beauty. Today the region has a flourishing tourist infrastructure and gulet cruises depart daily from harbours along the Turquoise Coast. Many Cruises also run between Turkey and Greece, stopping to visit Dodecanese Islands on route. The Blue Cruise, offers a range of itineraries visiting dazzling bays, picturesque towns, rural villages and historical sites, there are flexible routes to suit every individual and every budget.
Olympos to Oludeniz
One of the shorter and most popular routes available between Olympos to Oludeniz, a typical cruise is 3 to 4 days. Olympos is a coastal village where Lycian ruins run along the river bank to a white pebble beach; a turtle nesting area at Cirali and the everburning Chimera flames are the top attractions, the area draws a trendy bohemian crowd and is a popular weekend get away. Oludeniz is an equally fashionable resort town, famous for it Blue Lagoon and noted by UNESCO for its remarkable flora. On this route will pass hidden coves and gorgeous beaches, making stops for swimming to visit interesting sites.
Kas: A quaint fishing town, Kas has a busy harbour with many fine eateries and cafes as well as a bustling market. Handicrafts and souvenirs are some of the many items that can be found. The town is built upon the ancient city of Antiphellos, the old amphitheatre is located a five minute walk from the centre.
Kekova: Known today as the Sunken City, Kekova dates back the the Lycian period, over 2000 years ago, it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 2nd century, though swimming and diving is prohibited the ruins can be seen below the clear waters
Simena Castle: Another Lycian site, Simena sits on the edge of the bay atop a small hill, from the top you will be rewarded with unparalleled views across Gokkaya Bay.
12 Islands: Around the bay of Fethiye are many small islands, you can cruise around them, and enjoy swimming in Fethiye’s most scenic bays.
Lycian Tombs: South west Turkey was once a home to Lycian settlers, nowadays the remains of the ancient civilisations extend along the coast, some can be visited by hiking while others can be seen from your gulet boat
Kumlubuk Bay: One of the longest stretches of beach on the peninsular it’s a beautiful place for swimming and snorkeling. You could take advantage of water sports at Ekincik Bay or organise a trip to the mud bath at Dalyan.
Fethiye – 12 Island Day Cruise
If multiply days on the open sea is not for you a one day cruise may be preferable and the pleasant seaside town of Fethiye would be an excellent place to base your vacation Saklikent, the second largest canyon in Europe, is just a 40 minute drive away or you could visit the nearby beaches at Oludeniz and Calis. Many historical sites are within walking distance of the Paspatur (old town) and boats depart daily from the central harbour to visit 12 of the many islands scattered around the bay. Tours typically stop at Flat Island, where you can swim, Shipyard Island, to visit the ruins, Red Island, to bath in the natural mud baths, Rabbit Island, popular with wildlife lovers, and Cleopatra’s Bath before returning to Fethiye in the evening.
Fethiye to Kekova
A Fethiye to Kekova cruise generally lasts 7 days and stops at some of the uniquely beautiful places in the region. Departing from Fethiye your first day will take you past the picturesque bay Oludeniz where you will see paragliders floating overhead, swim at the Blue Lagoon, the cruise to Kelebekler Vadisi (Butterfly Valley), for swimming or take a short hike to the nearby waterfall and search for the rare Jersey Tiger Butterfly. Only accessible by boat or a steep trail from Faralya, the rural village perched on top of rocky coastal cliffs, this is a quieter spot and generally crowd free. You will spend your first evening on St Nicholas Island where you can watch the sunset from the hilltop ruins. The Cruise will continue to the sights of Kekova, Simena and Kas. Other highlights of this route include:
Pirates Cave: Hidden in the cliff side and once used as a hiding place by Pirates laying in wait for passing merchant ships, there are some fantastic photo opportunities here.
Myra: The remarkably well preserved Lycian ruins of Myra, Demre, are arguable the most impressive in the region. The large amphitheatre is the central attraction, you can walk around and see the ancient burial sites cut into the cliff face. A ruined castle sits high above on the rocky hilltop, a steep but clear trail leads up the cliff face, affording a bird-eye view of the ancient city.
Liman Agzi: A quiet harbour, not accessible by road, is noted for its tranquil waters, Limon Agazi is particularly pleasant for swimming and snorkeling.
Optional Activities: Babadag, the majestic peak behind Oludeniz beach, is regarded os one of the best paragliding spots in the world, and an excursion can be built into you cruise. Scuba Diving is also offered in many of the secluded coves and bays on the Fethiye Kekova Blue Cruise
Bodrum – Gokova – Bodrum
If you want to combine you Blue Cruise with a visit to Greece then Bodrum is an ideal starting point. Some routes are one way (to Rhodes and onwards to Kos) and can be made in either direction, while other cruises will depart and return to Bodrum, a popular location for swimming and relaxing, Bodrum is also favoured for it shopping and nightlife as well as being culturally rich with many archaeological sites in the area. Bodrum – Gokova – Bodrum is one of the best Turkey-Greece cruises, usually and 8 day cruise you will pass by ancient ruins, shipwrecks, sandy beached some more.
Orak Island: Here you can visit the ruins of a Byzantine village, take a dip in the crystal clear waters or relax on the beach.
Cleopatra Beach: Legend has it that Cleopatra has the golden sand brought all the way from Africa!
Seven Islands: A cluster of islands on the Gulf of Gokova, this is an enchanting setting and an ideal place for snorkeling or exploring the small islands on foot.
English Harbour: Used during World War Two to hide British torpedo boats, the harbour takes its name from the English Battle Ships laying on the seabed. Snorkeling and diving are both popular here.
Tuzla Bay: An appealing fishing village with elegant restaurants serving local cuisine and an array of fresh seafood dishes. After you’ve tasted the local delicacies you can retire to your Blue Cruise Gulet boat and relax on the waves of the open sea.