Embark on a 7-day voyage along the dazzling turquoise Turkish Riviera. Prepare for a delightful sailing experience with winds that are brisk enough to propel you forward but gentle enough to keep the crew at ease. Secluded bays will provide you with more than a good shelter or swimming spot. They give you access to iconic beaches and places with historic ruins holding many secrets. Sailing south from Fethiye through the vibrant blue waters to Kaş town, you will sail past the rugged coastline, taste delightful Turkish cuisine, explore scenic ancient towns and much more.
There is something for everyone when sailing in Turkey. Turkey is an amazing sailing destination with the advantage of not being so overcrowded yet. You should consider Turkey as your next dream sailing area because of:
- comfortable sailing with steady Meltemi wind
- secretive and secluded bays hiding alluring sceneries, old ruins, hiking paths leading to the best viewpoints and turquoise waters to snorkel in
- Turkish hospitality, true friendliness and plenty of family-run restaurants to taste local cuisine
Turkey still maintains its charm of a “hidden sailing gem” with a high level of authenticity. The sailing infrastructure is developed, and generally, people in marinas are very attentive.
Weather and sailing conditions
In the southwest of Turkey, sailing conditions are generally outstanding throughout the entire season. The season is considerably long, from late April to early November, with July and August being the busiest months.
The area is affected by the north-westerly pattern of wind called “meltemi” that blows steadily in the summer with a force of 15-20 knots, making the sailing more predictable and enjoyable. Normally, the winds start picking up in the morning till afternoon and die down at sunset.
Summer in the Mediterranean can be quite hot, but the skies are nearly always clear and blue. However, a major downside of summer sailing is the prevalence of "pirate" boat cruises. These are traditional vessels known as gulets, often filled with party-goers who hop from bay to bay.
The southwest of Turkey, known as the Turkish Riviera or the Turkish turquoise coast, earns its nickname for a good reason. This stunning 550-nautical-mile stretch of sun-drenched coastline boasts incredibly vibrant shades of blue and turquoise.
The round trip starts and ends in Fethiye - a town located in the appealing pine-wood bay. Starting from Fethiye, it's a good idea to sail east along the Lycian coast towards the area near Kekova Island, where you can see a sunken city. This route takes approximately 140 nautical miles. Additionally, Fethiye serves as an excellent launch point for trips to Greece.
Suggested 7 days itinerary - the Turquoise route
This itinerary is especially suitable for more laid-back crews of families and friends. The base is in Fethiye in Ece Marina or Yacht Classic Hotel Marina, positioned next to each other. You will get there by taxi or bus from Dalaman Airport in about 45 minutes.
You can check in on the boat at 5 pm and stay overnight. Fethiye is a city and district of Muğla Province in the Aegean region of Turkey. The city is surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning beaches. The town features a bustling harbour filled with boats, vibrant city life, and delicious cuisine.
- Day 1: Fethiye (0 nm)
- Day 2: Fethiye - Kalevezi (Gemiler island) (15 nm)
- Day 3: Kalevezi - Oludeniz - Butterfly Valley (Kelebekler Bay) - Kalkan (30 nm)
- Day 4: Kalkan - Kekova - Kalekoy - optional Smugglers cove/Gokkaya Limani (26 - 29 nm)
- Day 5: Kalekoy - Bilal's Beach / Kas (16 nm)
- Day 6: Kas - Cennet Koyu (30 nm)
- Day 7: Cennet Koyu - Cold Water Bay/Kalavezi/ - back to Fethiye (20 nm)
You can find the route on Google Maps on this link.
Day 1 - Fethiye (0 nm)
The check-in starts usually at 5 pm, so we recommend staying in the base marina the first night and using the time to explore the vibrant town of Fethiye. The view from the marina is stunning, with the mountains in the background covered with snow for half a year.
Get your provisioning in the big supermarket inside the marina and have your first encounter with Turkish gastronomy. A mere 10-minute walk from the marina will lead you to the exceptional fish restaurant, Lakerda, which is highly recommended for a visit. While the Turkish lira is the local currency, be assured that credit cards are widely accepted at all locations.
Day 2 - Fethiye - Kalevezi/Cold Water Bay (16 nm)
Let’s start slow. Today’s overnight anchorage is located on Gemiler island, a place that breathes history thanks to old Byzantine ruins and churches from the 5th century. On your way there, dive into the crystal clear waters close to the Blue Cave.
What to see
After approximately 2 hours of comfortable sailing, have a stopover in the Akvaryum Kobu, a gorgeous little bay. Pick up a buoy or drop your anchor and snorkel in the crystal clear waters like in a real aquarium. If you grab some kebab in the restaurant ashore, you don't have to pay for a buoy.
After the swim, continue to Gemiler island (also known as St Nicholas island). Although compact, the island is renowned for its old ruins of several Lycian churches and Byzantine settlements, including mosaic floors. Notably, it is also the final resting place of St. Nicholas, known as the original Santa Claus. Drop an anchor in the Kalevezi Bay on the island's northern shore and explore Gemiler island. Be aware that the bay is very loud and busy with tourist boats in the period from June to August until 5 pm. For a quieter experience and a chance to wander among the ruins solo, consider visiting early in the morning the following day. There is a small admission fee to see the archaeological site.
Where to stay
Kalevezi is a beautiful and well-protected bay (or channel) with a wonderful setting. Its beauty is enhanced by the mountains surrounding the bay. To avoid gullets that come in, stop on the NW side of the island. The preferred method of anchoring here involves setting the anchor at a depth of 15 meters, with a chain extending up to 60 meters, and securing lines to the shore. This anchoring technique is widely used in Turkey. For dining or beach access, you can easily take a dinghy to a restaurant located opposite the island or to the nearby beach.
An alternative for an overnight anchorage is Cold Water Bay or Cove North of Camel Beach. You can choose one of these three anchorages on your return trip on day 7. Cold Water is a small bay known for its reliable holding ground, though it can be challenging when katabatic winds descend from the hills. This bay tends to be quite noisy during the day, so it's advisable to arrive later in the afternoon. Don't forget to book a spot at the family-run restaurant called Las Tunas.
Day 3 - Kalevezi - Oludeniz - Butterfly Cove (Kelebekler Bay) - Kalkan (30 nm)
This day will be full of memorable experiences. Ölüdeniz, renowned as one of Turkey's most photographed beaches, is conveniently situated just a short distance from St. Nicholas Island. Travelling 2.5 miles south of Ölüdeniz, you'll be greeted by a breathtaking view of iconic cliffs. The final destination is the picturesque town of Kalkan. There's a good chance you might find yourself taking part in a backgammon tournament, a beloved traditional Turkish board game.
What to see
Ölüdeniz is famous for its long stretch of beach with paraglides drifting above the skies. Just look up, and you will see plenty of colourful canopies against a blue backdrop. Then, turning your gaze forward, you'll be met with a stunning spectrum of blue hues in the water. Like many other places in Turkey, Ölüdeniz is steeped in myths and legends. Its name, meaning 'Dead Sea' in Turkish, stems from a sad legend related to the unfulfilled love of a sailor and his girlfriend dying in the sea. A more logical reason for its name could be that the Blue Lagoon Bay is quite sheltered, experiencing little to no ocean swells. It's important to note that anchoring is not allowed in this part of the bay. To get closer to the beach, you should anchor in Bozyiğit Burnu.
Afterwards, head to the bay Kelebekler, situated near the Butterfly Valley Cove. During the summer, the 'butterflies' you'll experience are likely to be the flutter of excitement in your stomach as you fall in love with the stunning views of cliffs and valleys. You can walk across the valley, or if you visit in spring, you might be lucky enough to see an actual waterfall and butterflies. Anchor in the bay's sandy bottom to either soak in the scenery or embark on a short uphill hike. At the top, you have the opportunity to have a drone operator capture a video and photo of you set against the dramatic cliff backdrop.
By late afternoon, you will reach the quaint town of Kalkan, where you can enjoy a well-deserved dinner at one of its many exquisite dining establishments. Kalkan has an interesting history; it was rebuilt in the 1980s by local entrepreneurs after being devastated by an earthquake, transforming it into the charming resort village it is today.
Kalkan is known for its nightlife and typical local activities taking place in the streets, such as the famous backgammon table game. You can immerse yourself in this cultural experience by sitting at a café, enjoying Turkish tea served in characteristic tulip-shaped glasses, and joining the locals in the game.
Where to stay
There are several berths and anchoring spots for your overnight stay in Kalkan. The harbour is well-protected, and it's easy to book the place in advance over the phone. Take into account that the touristy port is very busy in the summer. Its popularity is partly due to the plentiful exceptional dining and bar options available. For a dining experience away from the crowded areas, we suggest trying Rosa restaurant. Alternatively, if you prefer something closer to the beach, Kleo Café Bar is a great choice.
In case the harbour is full, you can go a bit back and drop an anchor in Firnaz Bay. However, be cautious of this anchorage during strong South and East winds. n certain days, water taxi boats operate between Firnaz Bay and Kalkan town, providing convenient transport. Alternatively, if you're willing to sail for an additional 1.5 hours, you can head to Kaş. There, you have the option of anchoring at places like Ottoman Gardens or directly in Kaş itself.
Day 4 - Kalkan - Kaleköy/Kekova or Smugglers cove/Gokkaya Limani (26 - 29 nm)
Prepare for upcoming days filled with fabulous bays, fjord-like sceneries, views of a medieval castle, ancient tombs, a sunken city, and turtles in crystal-clear waters. An eventful adventure awaits!
What to see
On your way from Kalkan to Kekova, consider taking a break at İnönü Koyu or Çamlık Koyu, located about 18 miles from Kalkan. These spots offer enjoyable swimming.
Afterwards, sail past the northern side of Kekova island to observe the sunken Greek town. While anchoring a sailing boat or catamaran directly over the site isn't feasible, you can still see the underwater wall structures from your boat. For closer exploration, dock your sailboat at a nearby port and then take a short dinghy ride to the sunken city.
Directly across from the sunken city, you'll find Theimussa Bay, which is circular in shape, offering excellent protection from winds coming from any direction. This makes it a great alternative for an overnight stay.
While sailing towards Theimussa, you will spot the majestic Simena castle in Kaleköy town. The climb to the fortress is challenging, but the stunning views from the top are well worth the effort. We suggest docking at the port and enjoying a late lunch at one of the local restaurants. For instance, Roma restaurant allows you to dine right next to your boat. The Simena Castle is just a short, albeit steep, walk away.
The view from the castle is breathtaking. You can stay at the port near the castle, anchor in Theimussa Bay, or sail further south along Kekova Island. Kekova, an uninhabited and picturesque island, offers a bay with complete 360-degree protection. Another popular option is to continue sailing to Gokkaya Limani, very close to the famous Smugglers Cove with a uniquely looking and expensive pub, Smugglers Inn. Both anchorages tend to be crowded because of the large number of pirate gullet cruises. Just a reminder, summer is super busy here.
Where to stay
If you search for fjord-like surroundings and remote bays, choose Kekova Bay in the southeast part of the island. The bay is protected even in storms, with no swells and no loud music at night.
You can leave out the Kekova southern shore and Gekkova Limani and stay in the Theimossa Bay in the port of the town Üçağız or in the eastern part of the bay. Tonight you can experience the typical unbeatable hospitality and savour unforgettable food. If you're anchored a bit away from the restaurant, you can call Hassan, the owner of Hassan's Restaurant, who offers a pick-up service for dinner guests. Additionally, you might even get to see an old turtle that frequents the area to feed on food scraps.
Gokkaya Limani, a more secluded bay, is another picturesque location offering good anchorage and protection from winds coming from any direction. It also provides enjoyable walking trails that are suitable for children.
Day 5: Kekova/Gokkaya Limani - Kaleköy - Bilal's Beach / Kaş (16 nm)
If you didn't have enough time or energy to manage what you wanted the day before, now it's the best time to remedy that. From this day on, you are sailing back to your base marina. Use the morning for a relaxing walk ashore or head to the Simena castle and Kalekoy again.
What to see
There are a couple of great swimming stopovers en route. We recommend the idyllic bay Kuyu Belen (also called Yaglica Bay) situated conveniently in the middle of today's trip to Kaş. The bay provides good shelter from stronger SW winds and great views. The area is surrounded by rocky cliffs and has a memorable shape. The opening is so narrow that only a few vessels can enter the bay at a time. Somehow it looks more like a fjord. Another nice place for a swim break is the anchorage in front of Bilal's Beach. There are plenty of buoys to tie to. Feel free to stay here overnight and get to Kaş town by a water taxi.
Kaş, a charming and vibrant coastal town, boasts a rich food culture, picturesque scenery, numerous quaint shops, and ancient tombs in its center. Its streets are lined with white houses adorned with pink and purple bougainvillaea flowers. The town is a popular spot for hikers, as the Lycian Way, a 35-day trail from Fethiye to Antalya that was once an ancient trade route, passes through it. Near the marina, you can find one of the most stunning viewpoints.
Where to stay
You have several options for tonight: moor to a buoy in the bay near the town, dock at the well-maintained Setur Kaş Marina, or find a berth in the old port of Kaş. The latter two will place you right in the centre of the activity. The old port of Kaş, also known as Kormen, is a popular entry port for crews travelling to or from Greece. While the Setur Kaş Marina is spacious, tranquil, and charming, it is slightly more expensive.
Day 6: Kaş - Cennet Koyu (30 nm)
Enhance your return journey with additional snorkelling and swimming stops. If you're in Kas, make sure to visit the Uzun Bazaar, a local market nestled in the town's heart. Shopping here offers a unique experience unlike any other. Later, consider anchoring briefly near Kaputaş Beach, renowned for its sandy shores.
Conclude your trip by anchoring in the Balartı area, also known as Cennet Koyu, and soak up the sun on Paradise Beach, where you can fully appreciate the pristine natural surroundings. This spot is a haven for those who love serene, unspoiled beauty, making it a favourite among yoginis, hikers, and campers.
Day 7: Cennet Koyu - Cold Water Bay/Kalavezi/ - Fethiye (20 nm)
Set sail from Cennet Koyu to Cold Water Bay or a bay north of Camel Beach, especially if you didn't visit these spots on Day 2. This will be your last chance to enjoy swimming with turtles.
For a late lunch, swimming, relaxation, or even meditation, moor your boat to a buoy in the bay in front of the Sea Me beach restaurant. This area offers a blend of a private luxury beach with beach beds and a bar alongside a semi-wild beach fringed with pine trees. Located near the marina on the Fethiye peninsula, Büyük Boncuklu Bay might be more crowded during peak season.
Alternatively, consider stopping at the bay of Sovalye Adasi, located right in front of Fethiye. This offers a final opportunity to enjoy tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the town. Once you return to Fethiye, make time for a shopping spree in the renowned Fethiye Bazaar, also known as Paspatur. Conveniently, this market is just a short walk from the marina.
Turkey is home to numerous beautiful bays with protected anchorages and well-equipped marinas. Book your tickets and a boat now for your upcoming sailing adventure in Turkey.