Sailing In Turkey: 2 Days On The Stunning Turquoise Coast

December 6, 2019

As I was planning my epic 35th birthday trip, there were two specific things that anchored the itinerary as must-dos—visiting Cappadocia (#1 on my bucket list) and some sailing in Turkey along the Turquoise Coast.

I found a way to make both happen within a week’s trip, and I’m totally stoked to share both the experiences and a few of my favorite photos from the 2 days I spent on the boat.  The real question is how many different ways I can try and find to describe the amazing colors of the water…let’s see, shall we?!

Sailing Turkey's Gorgeous Turquoise Coast | Why a 2-day boat trip in Turkey should be on your bucket list. Sailing in Turkey is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and should be on any boat lover's itinerary. Short boat trips in Turkey, exploring the Gocek Islands, #airbnbboat. Lycian ruins, turquoise waters, private beaches & more!

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What is the Turquoise Coast?

Also called the Turkish Riviera, this is Turkey at her most gorgeous.  Stretched all along the southwestern half of the country, you’ve got the rugged pine-lined mountains and sun-kissed sand with turquoise sea.  The area was occupied once upon a time by the ancient Lycians (more on them later), and is absolutely idyllic.

A stunning private beach we discovered in the Gocek Islands while sailing in Turkey

Planning a trip to Turkey??  Here are some posts to help you out!

Tips For Turkey Trip Planning: A First-Timer’s Guide

What to Do in Istanbul if You Only Have 24 Hours (or even 5 Hours)

Why You Have to Take a Food Tour in Asian Istanbul

A First-Timer’s Guide to Cappadocia

Zelve, Cappadocia’s Best-Kept Secret

Paragliding Over Oludeniz’s Famous Blue Lagoon

A Magical Weekend in Fethiye & Olüdeniz, Turkey

Or explore all my Turkey posts!!

Options for sailing in Turkey

The coasts of both the Mediterranean and Aegean in Turkey are world-famous for their clear aqua water, beautiful coastlines, and interesting history.  So it’s no surprise that boat trips are a popular way to experience it.  There are many different routes, and many of the trips are at least 4-7 days long (though day sails from Fethiye and Göcek are also popular).

One of the most iconic ways to do this is a gulet boat trip.  Gulets are classic wooden yacht, traditionally two-masted.  They’re especially associated with Turkey, but you can find them in Croatia and Greece as well.

Since I only had two days for the sailing part of my itinerary, I had trouble finding the right boat and itinerary fit—finding a 2-day boat trip in Turkey seemed impossible!  I ultimately chose to sail with a host off Airbnb.  I was sailing alone, but the boat could have held up to four guests.  Here is the listing for the boat that I rented (and you can use this link to get $40 off your first Airbnb booking).

A 2-day boat trip in Turkey on the Nirvana S - rented a boat & captain on Airbnb

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I grabbed a taxi from my amazing hotel in Fethiye over to Göcek, marveling at how they basically drive like they’re in a “The Fast & the Furious” movie :p  The driver dropped me off at the main Göcek marina, which is super cute.  It was easy to meet up with Sadi and Meryam, my captain and first mate for the next couple days!

They welcomed me onto their boat, the “Nirvana S”.  I’d found this specific boat after INTENSE Airbnb searching, and chose them for a number of reasons, but most importantly since I was a solo female traveler, I liked that Meryam (Sadi’s wife) was traveling with us rather than just a crew of all guys.  They were a very warm and hospitable couple in their 50s/60s, and I absolutely loved my time with them.

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They sent me off to go get any snacks and drinks that I wanted to bring (they had stocked all the meal food), and then we headed out to sea…

It was SO wonderful being out on the water again!  We couldn’t have asked for more gorgeous weather, and at first I just enjoyed sitting at the bow and watching the coastline, sipping hot black tea and soaking up some sun.

Cute Gocek marina on Turkey's Turquoise Coast

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A huge part of my sailing in Turkey was definitely about the journey, not the destination—but there were a few specific islands and sights that were worth calling out (and that I remember the names of…), and I’ve highlighted those below!

Paradise Island

Our first main stop of the day was Paradise Island, where Sadi docked and then sent us on our way.  Meryam led me up a trail to the top of the island, where you had a gorgeous view of the teal water, the other little islands and mainland, and a few other lucky fellow boaters.

Gorgeous views above Paradise Island, in the Gocek Islands - sailing in Turkey

Stunning clear turquoise waters while sailing in Turkey

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It really is hard to beat that view, and we had it all to ourselves.

Solo female travel in Turkey - a 2-day boat trip on the Turquoise Coast

Out on the water…

Later that afternoon, we sailed around a number of other islands, but didn’t stop anywhere.  Sadi kept asking me if I wanted to stop and swim, but honestly I’m not super into swimming…I love being by the water, seeing the water, but am not really as into being *in* it!  I instead enjoyed this great area on the boat for laying out and grabbing some sun.

Complete side note, in that second pic below I LOVE how my face isn’t greasy and gross…I discovered Korean face sunscreens about a year ago and it’s been a game-changer for my travel pics and skincare.  Here are some of my favorite Korean sunscreens for travel.

I love being out on the water! A 2-day boat trip in Turkey on the Nirvana S

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By about 3pm we stopped at the place where we’d stay the first night, to make sure we snagged a good spot for anchoring.  It gave me all the late afternoon and evening to sit and listen to the water, read my Kindle, sip a glass of ice-cold rosé, and then watch the sun set.

Happy moments sailing in Turkey, soaking up sun

How to take a 2-day boat trip in Turkey

Meryam made me a lovely fresh fruit plate and I poured myself a glass of rosé (and also tried a nice rich stout beer).

Peaceful moments sailing in Turkey - watching the sun set

I was a little surprised that the sunsets were kind of quiet and pale (though still pretty), so I just watched as the sky faded to orange and then purple.

A quiet sunset from the boat - why you should sail in Turkey

A cold glass of rose and a sunset on my 2-day boat trip in Turkey

And had another glass of wine…BECAUSE.

Beautiful sunset onboard the boat

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The next morning was rainy, so I let myself sleep in awhile, and then had a delicious giant breakfast and enjoyed my tea and Kindle for a few hours while it poured.  I was bummed that the weather wasn’t perfect, but it was actually really lovely and cozy just to sit and chill with the sound of the rain outside.

Rainy morning black tea on the boat

By mid-morning it was starting to clear up, and Meryam brewed up some traditional Turkish coffee to pass the time, and she always had all these beautiful little extra touches…trays, pretty accents, and the like.  It made me feel so special and welcomed!

Turkish tea and a treat while sailing in Turkey

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The food

Okay, let’s take a quick break from gorgeous turquoise water (waaaay more on it further below) and talk about the food.  Now, when people think about sailing in Turkey or anywhere else, the food is rarely what people rave about.  Sure, you might have some fresh seafood, but otherwise it’s kind of “roughing it”.  But not on this boat!

For breakfast, I had a huge selection of different Turkish cheeses plus bread and honey.  And then One morning she made me eggs with sausage, and another a sort of omelet.

The food Meryam cooked on the boat was amazing! Eggs and beef sausage.

Traditional Turkish cheeses and tomato, bread and cream and honey

Meryam’s home cooking was so yummy, and unique from the Turkish food I’d had previously.  Below are a few examples, including some delicious spiced chopped beef, yummy beef kofte, roasted chicken, and a whole pan-fried fish.  She always made a few interesting little salads and side dishes for each meal too.  It was WAY more food than one person could eat, but it was all so good!

I ate like a king while sailing in Turkey - this is Meryam's spiced chopped beef

Delicious tender beef kofte on our 2-day boat trip in Turkey

Okay, now back to the sailing bit…

Finally, the rain cleared up a little before lunch and we headed out to explore.  This type of a day is exactly what sailing in Turkey is all about!  Blue skies, blue waters, and some good sun for tanning!!

Blue skies & blue waters aboard the Nirvana S

Sailing in Turkey - headed toward the Lycian tombs

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Once we got going again, we stopped at Cleopatra/Hamaam Bay, where there were a few Greek (or Roman??) ruins.  The color of the water here was absolutely nuts.  We didn’t stop or anchor here, though…just skimmed through and grabbed some pics.

A 2-day boat trip in Turkey - Cleopatra Bath Island

Gorgeous turquoise water around Gocek's islands

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Seagull Bay

Then we pulled in at Seagull Bay, where Meryam and I went on another adventure!

Sailing in Turkey is the perfect way to get away from it all

The clear waters of Seagull Bay - sailing in Turkey

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We hiked over the top of the island to the other side (quite steep!), passing by this cute little herd of donkeys and luxuriating in the deep forest smells.  I can’t quite put my foot on what smelled so good (besides spicy, fragrant evergreen needles), but it was awesome!  Down by the water there were olive, pomegranate, and orange trees all around, and I even picked a pomegranate that became my snack later.

Donkeys grazing around Seagull Bay

And WHY did we hike to the other side, you ask??  Um, to find our own little private beach, of course!

The water was just unbelievable colors…the most intense blues, greens, and sparkling turquoises you can imagine.

Hiking over to find the most amazing private beach - a great reason to sail in Turkey!

Finding a private beach on one of Gocek's islands - sail in Turkey

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I went for a quick swim and took loads of photos.  I mean seriously, like a hundred pics in a very short amount of time.  Then we tried to dry off and climbed back over the island to the boat.

This beach was one of the most magical parts of the trip!

The rest of the afternoon was spent sailing around.  I had a delicious kofte lunch and then finally did do some swimming off the side of the boat—Sadi was so happy!  Can you even believe the color of this water?!

Falling in love with the aqua water - a 2-day boat trip in Turkey

Swimming in the waters of the Turquoise Coast

Lycian tomb ruins

Later in the afternoon we sailed past a coastline packed with Lycian tomb ruins.  We don’t know a ton definitively about the Lycians, but we believe they were ancient peoples who lived along the coast of Turkey.  They were known for being sea-going peoples, having a more democratic form of government, an a matrilineal society (lineage and names through mothers rather than fathers).  From what we can tell they may have had Hittite origins, and occupied this coast for multiple millennia BC.

They believed their dead were carried into the afterlife by magical winged creatures, and so placed their tombs in high-up places…often cliffsides.  These can be ornate and look like temples (like in Fethiye), or older ones that are little more than little caves dug into the rock face.  One of the great reasons to sail along—or hike—this coast is to be able to see a lot of the ancient Lycian tombs tucked away in the rocks.

Lycian tomb ruins all over the cliffs - easy to see while sailing in Turkey

Perfect peaceful moments sailing in Turkey

Magical sunrise

We had tucked ourselves into a little cove for the night, and I was really hoping for a real sunrise the next morning!

On the morning of my 35th birthday, I woke up to a clear morning, having set my alarm for a half hour before sunrise.  I pulled on a sweatshirt and climbed up onto the deck.  The night’s dark hadn’t quite let go, but the dark indigo blue was starting to creep over the sky.  The a rich violet, and finally some pinks and oranges.

Perfect moments sailing in Turkey - sunrise on my birthday

 

A magical sunrise on my 2-day boat trip in Turkey

Sadi made me some hot black tea and I sat and watched the bright sun creep over the islands’ horizon…bringing with it the beginning of another year!

Turkish black tea & a beautiful sunrise - why you should sail in Turkey | One Girl, Whole World

As soon as I’d eaten another delicious breakfast, we headed back toward Göcek’s marina so I could catch my flight from Dalaman to Istanbul.  It had been an amazing 2 days of sailing in Turkey, the perfect chance to explore the Turquoise Coast for a short time!  I would rent with Sadi and Meryam again in a heartbeat, and if you’re looking for a short trip option to sail in Turkey, this is exactly what you should be looking for!

Other boat trip adventures you’ll love:

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Sailing Turkey's Gorgeous Turquoise Coast | Why a 2-day boat trip in Turkey should be on your bucket list. Sailing in Turkey is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and should be on any boat lover's itinerary. Short boat trips in Turkey, exploring the Gocek Islands, Lycian ruins, turquoise waters, private beaches & more!

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