Imagine postcard perfect sunsets on crystal blue waters, mountainous backdrops and romantic beaches; sleeping beneath a blanket of stars, sailing with wild abandon across the mythic Mediterranean.
A ‘Blue Cruise’ along the Turkish Riviera could well be as close to perfection as it gets. Far from the mosques of Istanbul and rustic resplendence of Cappadoccia, the Turkish Riviera offers something remarkably different to ‘typical Turkey’.
Known as the ‘Turquoise Coast’, this southwest Mediterranean and Aegean coastline is home to an idyllic treasure trove of coves, inlets, secluded beaches, Lycian ruins and ancient myth. Turkish writers and artists in the 1950’s were the first to inspire the Blue Cruise tradition, steering their wooden gulet boats along the Riviera in romantic pursuit of coastal beauty.
Today, tourists to the Turquoise Coast are able to mimic the routes of these artistic mariners, a luxurious combination of sun, swimming, leisure and adventure. A number of operators run Blue Cruises along the coast, offering a range of short and extended trips, usually from three to nine days and most commonly around one week. Boats typically depart from Didim or Bodrum and make a number of pit stops and port calls depending on the length and style of the trip.
We set sail with ‘V-Go Cruises’ for a four-day/three night adventure from the port town of Fethiye, southeast of Marmaris, joining a crew of eighteen random travellers for the high seas. Bodrum Blue Cruises are another reputable company, specialists at cruises of longer duration.
Our two-masted gulet was lavish, with a polished wood sundeck, below-deck living quarters, and plenty of room to kick back and relax. We made acquaintance with our co-sailors and lapped up our surroundings. The sea breeze was fluttering our hair as we sailed along some the most inviting, crisp waters imaginable.
For a little extra, you can choose to stop off for a dose of Paragliding – great fun but certainly not for the fainthearted. Hiking trails abound along the coast for those seeking to find their feet on a little solid land.
Lavish meals of Kebap, olives and breads are part of the package, and are served and eaten communally on the Captain’s table at the rear deck. Breakfast and lunch are also included, and drinks and Nargile water pipes can be indulged in for a few extra bickies (money).
Throughout the journey south, our gulet made a number of pit stops, notably at the secluded Butterfly Valley and the port town of Kas, where we disembarked to discover ancient amphitheatres and Lycian ruins. Calls to prayer bellowed through mosques echoing as our vessel returned to the seas.
Our days on board were spent in luxurious, laid back style. We swam, joked, drank, read and chatted, as the idyllic mountainous coast provided a perpetual backdrop and magical, amber and blood- red sunsets sat low on the horizon come days end.
On our last evening, we ate and drank heartily with the crew and captains. Eyelids heavy and belly rotund, we assumed entrenched positions on the sundeck and watched the crescent moon rise as we nodded off to the gentle sway of our vessel in the calm, cool Aegean Sea.
For a unique take on the Turkish experience, the Blue Cruise is a must – indeed, it is the perfect way to chase the ‘blues’ away.