As last year, the plan this year is to take the boat where the guests wish it to be taken. Within practical limits, of course. Like departure airport and next rendezvous. Airports and rendezvous locations aside, we would be prepared to take the boat as far north as Kusadasi and Samos through end-June and as far west as Bodrum and Nisiros thereafter. On the other extreme we would be prepared to go as far east as Antalya. Within these extremes, and guest preferences permitting, we would encourage short-termers to restrict their itineraries to Turkey’s Gulf of Fethiye, and long-termers to opt for one of three itineraries we will describe as Gulf Southeast, Gulf Northwest, and Aegean Special, as it is our experience that attempting to do more entails long passages.
Gulf of Fethiye The Gulf of Fethiye is surrounded by lower slopes of the Taurus Mountains, pine-clad to the water’s edge, and its crystal-clear water invites swimmers and snorkelers. It is an area of flat-water sailing easy on those not accustomed to open sea, and is rimmed with innumerable coves and anchorages.
Gocek The Club Marina at Gocek is the scenic ultimate in yacht marinas and the place the TGE calls home. It is situated up against pined slopes across the bay from Gocek Town and is reached by regular ferry service. Both the marina and Gocek Town are 30 minutes by road from Dalaman International Airport. Gocek Town itself has a unique charm as a working village and yacht rendezvous. From Gocek we like to take our guests by car up into the foothills of the Taurus Mountains to lunch on fresh trout with our feet cooling in fresh-water streams. In Gocek Town, and because we live there half the year, we are able to introduce our guests to reputable carpet, craft-art, and other merchants.
Tomp Bay Six miles from Gocek, Tomb Bay is delightful for dining, swimming, or boat drive-by below Carian and Lycian rock tombs (porticoed temple tombs). The ancient Lycian city of Crya is still evident among the olive trees and oleander. Lycians, Herodotus noted, were Cretans driven from Crete by Minos of Knossos. Carians, he believed, were native to Asia Minor.
Deep Bay One mile from Tomb Bay. Pine trees and crystal-clear water. Swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Enough said except that Yuksel, the local restaurateur, is not only a fine cook but offers an after-dinner campfire camaraderie that cannot be duplicated. Neither can be his breakfast the following morning. Year after year our guests describe Deep Bay as their favorite stop.
Cleopatra’s Bay Two miles from Deep Bay. Another exquisite setting with thick pine right down to the water’s edge. Monastery ruins half submerged attract the curious. Also called Ruin Bay, a 45-minute hike takes you to ancient Lydae. Off the beaten path and rarely visited, Lydae features sarcophagi, temple walls, cisterns, Corinthian columns and inscribed tablets from the Roman and Byzantine periods. Cleopatra, by the way, was here twice, once with Julius Caesar and once with Marc Antony. He, Antony, was en route to Actium. She, Cleopatra, came for the scenery. Or whatever. Recep, the restaurateur, bends any bendable ear while pouring cold beer or hot tea.
Gemiler Island 15 miles from Cleopatra’s Bay. Once home to Lycian and Byzantine pirates, the remains of an entire village are there to be explored, from pirate-ship parking to covered passage to temple and basilica. A wonderful place to swim and snorkel, and an equally wonderful place to take in a hilltop sunset with a bottle of wine. Ali, the local restaurateur, entertains with campfire and song.
Olu Deniz Two miles from Gemiler, Olu Deniz is the most photographed and picture-postcarded of any beach in the Eastern Mediterranean. Photos are best taken during a 30-minute paraglide down from Baba Dag (Father Mountain). Meaning Dead Sea, the lagoon at Olu Deniz in 67 BC harbored the Roman galleys of Pompey the Great, there to eject Lycian pirates from Gemiler.
Butterfly Valley Two miles from Olu Deniz and inaccessible except by sea, this striking spot is backed by almost sheer mountain from which water falls. Even the beach is bounded left and right by vertical rock promoting a unique privacy.
Fethiye 16 miles from Butterfly Valley, Fethiye is ancient Telmessos and site of the finest rock tombs in Lycia, some featuring Ionic porticoes. There is also a hilltop fortress built by the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem and a Roman theater under excavation. The nearby ghost-town of Kaya was emptied by the Turkish-Greek population swap of 1923. Covered markets and lots of other shopping. An excellent restaurant offering a splendid hors d’oeuvre of artichoke heart and tuna. And a truly wonderful sail in and out of port.
Gulf Southeast Gulf Southeast refers both to the aforementioned coves and ports of call as well as to destinations southeast as far as Kekova Roads.
Kalkan 30 miles from Gemiler, Kalkan is sun-washed, quaint, and hub for taxis to ancient Letoom, Patara, and Xanthos, the latter featuring a monument to Harpies and Nereids, some of whom may be encountered at sea en route. Good silver shopping. An excellent restaurant. A picnic lunch on Patara beach can also be memorable, not because Patara was the port from which forty Lycian triremes under Xerxes sailed to an unfortunate end at Salamis in 480 BC, but because the sea at Patara is such an extraordinary color.
Kas 15 miles from Kalkan, Kas is cosmopolitan or nearly so, with off-beats and sophisticates frequenting chic shops and cafes. All-night tavernas trumpet music you thought you’d forgotten. The finest French restaurant east of Paris, rack of lamb the specialty. Sarcophagi in the middle of the principal shopping street. Roman theater.
Kale 16 miles from Kas, ancient Sinema remains to be seen both under clear water (with mask or from glass-bottom boat) and on shore where a medieval Ottoman fortress has been added to crown the hill on which Kale sits. Spectacular photographs of Kekova Roads from the fortress. Memorable dining at Ibrahim’s seafood restaurant in the neighboring village of Ucagiz.
Myra Actually, the boat anchors at Gokkaya (three miles from Ucagiz) from which we water-taxi and road-taxi to Myra, which was the bishopric of Saint Nicholas before he relocated to Gemiler. Of the several Saints Nicholas, this one is the patron of sailors and thieves, sometimes called Santa Claus. Myra’s most striking feature, however, is not his basilica but rather the conjunction of Lycian and Roman architecture.
Kastellorizon 17 miles from Gokkaya. Idyllic Greek island locale for 1991’s Academy Award (best foreign film) winning Mediterraneo (Castelrosso at the time depicted, the island was Italian from 1912 to 1943, as were the rest of the Dodecanese). Taverna dining in the Greek flavor. And no Immigration or Customs.
Gulf Northwest Gulf Northwest refers both to the ports of call listed under Gulf of Fethiye and to those that follow.
Mandraki, Rhodes If you believe the Colossus once straddled this harbor entrance 45 miles from Fethiye, you’ll believe we won’t have to triple park. This is the port from which Hospitaler knights sallied forth in fast galleys to ravage infidel shipping and coastal towns, until 1522 when the infidels threw them out. The Hospitaler castle remains, however, and is a major attraction, as is the old town surrounding it. A variety of cuisine which changes from year to year as the restaurateurs retire to Long Island and Philadelphia. Port of Entry.
Datca 11 miles from Simi Town, Datca is an AM Port of Entry en route to Knidos. In fact, it was Knidos before Knidos moved to the Triopian cliffs. A commercial and resort town where rug merchants are somewhat reasonable if still cunning.
Knidos Sounds Greek (Spartan, according to Herodotus) but is Turkish, a clear-water cove at the tip of the Doric Peninsula 20 miles from Datca. Triopian cliffs flush in rosemary and myrtle. Ruins at the water’s edge. See Temple of Aphrodite (imagination required) once housing Praxitele’s first nude. Great swimming. Some of the finest dining in Turkey nearby.
Keci Buku 39 miles from Knidos (downwind) and fjord-like, Keci Buku is one of the prettier anchorages in Turkey. Good swimming and exploring, including the ruins of Bybassos, a part of ancient Caria. The Carians, it may be noted, were allies of the Trojans, and while Homer said they were barbarous of speech, it had nothing to do with their hospitality.
Loryma A Rhodian outpost 20 miles from Keci Buku, the fortress here dates from the 3rd century BC. The anchorage a century earlier harbored the Persian fleet of Conon the Athenian while it prepared to end Sparta’s sea supremacy in a battle fought off Datca
Marmaris Ancient Physcus 27 miles east of Loryma. Bazaar town full of crafty rug merchants, beach tourists, and waterfront restaurants. The world’s greatest doner kebap. Yacht-voyeurism, like Donald’s “Marla” and Ted Koppel’s Gibraltar-flag ketch, all 120-feet of it. In 480 BC, however, voyeurs watched Artemisia the Elder outfit 50 galleys for the Persian Xerxes, each about 128′ in length and propelled by 170 Carian oarsmen.
Ekincik 20 miles east of Marmaris, Ekincik is like, well, a mountain lake plopped down with its own pine trees against the red buttes of Sedona, Arizona. And does it have a restaurant! Turkish meze (hors d’oeuvres) and fresh seafood. River boat to ancient Caunos. You can read about Caunos in Herodotus’s History, and enough of it remains to get the picture. Dramatic rock tombs further up river near Dalyan and its fresh-water lake.
Aegean Special This itinerary is limited to April, May and June as the Meltem begins to blow in July making for a short and choppy sea. Unpleasant heading north, to say the least.
Bodrum Nee Halikarnassus and birthplace of Herodotus, this town is striking from the sea and interesting once ashore. The Hospitaler castle is well preserved/restored, the bazaar has more variety than that of Marmaris, and there is a broad selection of good restaurants. Site of Seven Wonders tomb (c353 BC) of King Mausolus of Caria and port in which his wife, Artemisia the Younger, trapped the Rhodian fleet in 352 BC.
Kos 11 miles from Bodrum. Temple of Asclepion (mostly memory), walls of another Hospitaler fortress, museum of artifacts saved from the mortar of neo-Greek construction, plane trees, and myths about native-son Hippocrates. Port of Exit best seen at this time of year behind hibiscus and rose laurel.
Port San Giorgio, Nisis Gaidharos A 36-mile beat north from Kos. Dine in a fisherman’s hamlet at water’s edge (or hike hundreds of feet straight up).
Kusadasi 20 miles from Pythagorion, Kusadasi is 12 miles south of Ephesus, the biggest of all digs. While Ephesus dates from the 11th century BC, there is also a well-preserved Ottoman fortress nearby. Kusadasi itself has a fantastic bazaar, fine seafood restaurants, and subtle rug merchants. Port of Entry.
Skrophes Bay A 50-mile spinnaker run from Kusadasi, this is a boardwalk town with a carnival atmosphere, including costumed vendors serving up ice cream in an elaborate ceremony. Three miles by taxi from ancient Didyma and its unfinished but substantial Temple of Apollo, 15 miles from ancient Miletus and its 15,000-seat Greco-Roman theater. And a Byzantine castle on the hill above. Good cuisine, great ice cream, and enterprising rug merchants.
Gumusluk 19 miles south of Skrophes Bay, Gumusluk is within walking distance of “new” Myndos, a Carian town founded by Mausolus in the 4th century BC. The harbor here sheltered an Egyptian fleet throughout the following century, and, in 44 BC, proved a brief haven for the ships of Gaius Cassius Longinus, one of Julius Caesar’s assassins. “Old” Myndos, a Lelegian town, is two miles to the SE. Gumusluk itself is whitewash and bougainvillea and rustic dining. Cagey rug merchants abound.
Patmos A short 10-mile sail from Arki, Patmos is the (now) sacred island to which St. John the Divine was banished from Ephesus by the Emperor Domitian in AD 95, and on which he dictated the Apocalypse. From the monastery 500′ up surrounded by the old town there are striking views of the island and the northern Dodecanese.
Pharmakousa 22 miles from Leros, this is the island on which Julius Caesar was detained by pirates when returning to Rome from Bithynia (NW Turkey). Perhaps because of Caesar’s subsequent wrath, the inhabitants of Pharmakousa are limited in number and much more hospitable than their forebears.