A Guide to Sailing Turkey’s Turquoise Coast
Sailing Turkey’s Turquoise coast is a gem to explore. This stretch of coastline is gorgeous, famous the world over for its twinkly warm Mediterranean seas. Cute and quaint towns are dotted along the coastline and typical Turkish gulet boats glide silently along. It’s a calm and soothing area in Turkey. Days can just blur into one, delicious fresh fish is in abundance and the sun always seems to shine.
Much of the Turquoise coast is backed by the Taurus Mountain range, before turning into lush pine forests, sandy beaches and sheer cliffs that plunge into the deep azure blue water. Best of all, many of the most beautiful beaches are secluded coves and bays can only be reached by boat, meaning you can enjoy peaceful days by the water without any crowds!
I spent a wonderful few days here back in August sailing from Fethiye along to Olympus. It was truly fab so I’ve put together my guide to the towns here.
Fethiye was possibly my least favourite town along the coastline. I think this was because it wasn’t the cute village I expected. It has certainly grown to a big city these days but as the starting point for many boat trips and cruises, it is an essential town to visit. Its harbour is pretty beautiful but don’t expect too much from it’s busy streets and restaurants.
The first stop for many boats departing from Fethiye is the famed Butterfly Valley. This area is only reached by boat, but beware, the beach isn’t sand but instead, lots of tiny sharp rocks. Really painful and not great for Baywatch style runs.. at all. The beach sits at the entrance to a vast canyon, where they have created a campsite and butterfly farm, home to a diverse range of butterflies.
It wasn’t even the right season to see butterflies in late August, but still, there were many!
As it was coming up fast to Turkey’s Victory Day (which itself has holiday days either side), many Turks had come to this beautiful spot to enjoy a good few days of camping. There’s a bar and restaurant here, all super low key and with a real hippie vibe. Definitely a cool spot to visit for a few secluded days with like minded chilled people!
Olu Deniz is one of the most famous beaches in Europe. This beach is regularly voted as one of the most beautiful so I was really excited to dock here. It really is a beautiful stretch, but as with many gorgeous beaches, it certainly draws crowds and is pretty touristy. There are some great bars here and some lively vibey nightlife, so we enjoyed a few drinks before heading off to do what this area has become particularly famous for…. Paragliding!
One perilous (and rather long) drive to the top of Babadag Mountain, we reached the top. This is one of the highest commercial locations in the world where you can paraglide. Together with the most breathtaking views and consistently good weather, it is also one of the best places.
It took all of about 5 minutes to jump into the gear and attach parachutes before my guide was telling me to start running down the hill. Then, bam, we were in the air!
Straight through the clouds, it was like a warm moist shower, before we took a sharp swerve and found ourselves emerging through them. The view and the scenery really is amazing. I felt my guide really wanted to make it an epic experience for me. He was very photo-taking happy and really worked the ropes to create a stomach twisting experience, and I loved it!
Back on the boat, we headed on to the picturesque St Nicholas Island to dock for the night, before enjoying a delicious BBQ and a beautiful sunset.
This beautiful town has a lot to offer, from walking its streets lined with bougainvillea tumbling down, cute cafes, vibey beach bars and excellent diving.
We were there for a full day and night, so most of our exploring was around the bars, cafes and wandering the streets. By amazing coincidence, it happened to be Victory Day which meant that evening, the town was absolutely pumping. Hundreds of Turks had travelled from all over to revel in the town and it was amazing to be a part of.
We enjoyed fantastic cocktails at Mumi Cafe Beach, which had an awesome atmosphere during the day and when we returned for more in the evening. We then joined in the celebrations at Red Point Bar, down one of the cute cobbled little streets.
The next stop along the coast is Kekova, and the magnificent Sunken City here – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These underwater ruins were submerged following an earthquake, but this was once a prominent town in the Byzantine and Lycian eras. This area is now completely deserted, except for a handful of goats.
This is a no walk, no diving zone. But many boats do sail past each day slowly to take in the incredible site. You can see rooms, staircases and doorways above the sea level, as well as make out pathways and more rooms under the water level. Luckily the water is extremely clear and it really is like nothing I’ve ever seen before!
Kaleköy and Simena Castle
Whilst sailing Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, this tiny, traditional village was one of my favourite spots. It is like a step back in time – except for all the tourists hopping off to visit the castle. The tiny hamlet is built into the hillside, with Simena Castle perched atop. A 10 min hike through the village and up into the hill brings you to the old fortress, once a notable Lycian settlement, and its incredible panoramic vista over the the Gokkaya bay.
The tiny laneways of the village are lined with local women (and children) selling their homemade souvenirs. We found the heat to be particularly staggering here and despite it being quite a short hike, we did completely run out of water.
Lastly, the final spot (or first if you’re doing this route in reverse) is the hippie town of Olympos. An odd mix of travellers descend on this incredibly beautiful town, nestled in a canyon and surrounded by fragrant forest. It has a tucked away beach and an atmosphere that’s really quite unique. Visitors stay in ‘treehouses’, and the bars are leafy, basic and so so chilled.
Who did I sail with?
I joined a blue cruise with Alaturka cruises. Not only did they have excellent reviews online but their email support was really brilliant. The price was in budget and the dates worked perfectly.
The boat itself was well maintained and the food cooked up was excellent! As it was so hot, we all slept out on deck under the stars – always special!
The crew were fantastic and we had a really lovely mix of guests on board. What more can you ask for!
Sailing Turkey’s Turquoise Coast
Have you been to Turkey’s turquoise coast? I’d love to hear if so – drop a comment below!
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