When you hear the word «Turkey,» you usually imagine an «all-inclusive» vacation. Unfortunately, Turkey has become a hostage to its most popular tourist format. Still, the coronavirus epidemic can make a difference: a search for a more secluded and safe holiday may open up «different Turkey» for travelers from around the world.
I do not think that the average tourist right now will set off on a trip to Central Anatolia, go to study Turkish winemaking in Izmir, or the traditional way of life in villages on the Black Sea. But replacing a hotel somewhere in Antalya or Marmaris with a yacht trip in the Turkish Mediterranean — why not? Moreover, yachting in Turkey has several undeniable advantages. Let's discuss them.
Ten reasons to go sailing in Turkey
The first is a visa-free entry for citizens of most countries: no visas, bureaucratic formalities, and procrastination. What you need to be careful with is the Greek islands, which are numerous along the coast of Turkey: you need a visa there — either a Schengen or a special island visa (by the way, it can be issued directly in some marinas, for example, in Bodrum).
The second is a long yachting season, which lasts from mid-April to early November. And even in winter it doesn't stop altogether: for example, in Marmaris in winter there are weekly races of Marmaris Winter Trophy, and many sailing schools train future skippers most actively in February and March.
The third is the convenient routes. The most popular of them run along the coastline from Bodrum to Antalya. There are mountains with coniferous forests. Due to this natural relief, there are no strong winds, sudden changes in temperature, and treacherous currents — but there are many quiet, picturesque bays, amazingly beautiful beaches, and the predictable sea around. The distances between yachts and marinas are very small, so there won't be long and exhausting crossings. These are ideal conditions for beginner skippers, and those who like a relaxing vacation — one hundred percent chill is guaranteed. You can often rent a «one-way trip» yacht — this is when you take the boat at point A and hand it over at point B in the same company's marina. It costs extra money, but it is very convenient.
The fourth reason is the very developed yachting infrastructure. On the coast from Bodrum to Antalya, marinas are almost an hour away from each other, and there are also hotels and restaurants where you can moor. The vast majority of marinas are super-modern and comfortable; for example, Yalikavak Bodrum marina was generally recognized as the best marina for superyachts in 2018-2019. The leading players in this market are D-marine and Setur: their marinas are found everywhere in Turkey. D-Marine Turgutreis in Bodrum is considered the best in the country, D-marine Göcek in Göcek is in the top five.
The fifth is the developed yachting culture. In Turkey, for a more or less well-to-do person, especially living somewhere on the coast from Izmir to Antalya, having a yacht is a natural thing. Spending time on it is common. Almost the entire coast of the Aegean Sea from Izmir to Bodrum and further, from Bodrum to Fethiye, is one sailing community. Bodrum and Marmaris are cities that, in general, can be called centers of world yachting: the largest marinas are located here, international competitions are held — for example, Marmaris International Race Week, where more than 1000 yachtsmen from around the world gather, or the famous Russian Sailing Week Volvo. And generally, yachting enthusiasts hang out here all year round. Yachting for many here is a part of life.
The sixth is a pleasant company. For many, vacations in Turkey are associated with a particular kind of people — both vacationers and tourism workers, not very refined people. That is why many don't choose Turkey as a vacation spot. The yachting community here is an entirely different kind of people: some friendly businessman with whom you can discuss both the oil prices and the way to the nearest marina. Yachting community in Turkey is intelligent, English-speaking, and quite cosmopolitan.
The seventh is a fantastic nature. Of course, there are many stunningly beautiful places in the world, but in Turkey, in the area of bays around Fethiye and Oludeniz, I am breathtaken from the views every five minutes. Or maybe every three. Such colors, such a triumph of life in all its natural splendor and diversity, I have not seen anywhere else. Well, just Google the photos, and you will understand everything. You can Google, for example, Oludeniz, Gekova, Kash, or Kabak. And most importantly — you can see all these only from the sea, and only from the sea, you will get to some secluded bays. Those who rest onshore really miss the most beautiful thing in Turkey.
The eighth is picturesque antique ruins everywhere. Few people know that almost 80% of the preserved architectural heritage of antiquity is in modern Turkey. And it is concentrated just in two regions — on the coast of the Aegean Sea (Ephesus, Miletus, Priene, Didim) and on the coast from Bodrum to Antalya (here, there is the Lycian path along the mountains — the most important trade route of antiquity, around which there are ruins of almost two dozens of cities). Many of them you can view from the water — for example, the tombs carved in the rock in the towns of Mira and Dalyan, or the antique temples on the tops of the mountains — in Olympos or Side.
The ninth is the famous Turkish hospitality. Turks love foreigners, adore children, and are always ready to help. Almost everyone speaks English quite well. In general, the Turks can somehow very efficiently and quickly solve any problems, especially if they happened to a foreigner. By the way, Turkey is a very safe country. There are few street thefts here, and in marinas, it is even safer.
The tenth is the cost of vacations. Here, perhaps, many will be disappointed: the prices for yacht charter and mooring in marinas are similar to European ones — in Greece or Croatia, for example. But the big plus of Turkey is the low prices on land. Of course, there are also expensive fancy places, especially in Bodrum, but in general, the average price tag is more than affordable. If you also consider rather inexpensive airplane tickets, then you will see that resting here is not expensive at all.
And some technical details: renting a yacht here is not difficult; the procedure is standard. You can rent a yacht with a skipper or without him if you have a Bareboat Skipper license. There are also ready-made yacht tours where you do not have to think about the organization — the skippers have already thought of everything for you.
There are two things to pay attention to. The first is a specific document called «transitlog,» aka «Turkish Ports Yacht Registration Certificate» — this is a permit to stay in Turkish waters. Since we are talking primarily about the yacht charter, the names of all those who will stay on this boat are entered in the transit log. The charter company does this, so I write about it rather so that you understand what it is about if the Turkish coast guard suddenly asks you for this piece of paper.
The other detail, which is very important to know, is the so-called Blue card. In Turkey, it is strictly forbidden to drain dirty water and feces into the water: you must empty the waste tank in marinas, and be sure to put the corresponding mark in the blue card. Even doing everything according to the rules, many people forget about the marks, and there is a penalty for this because the marks in the «blue card» here are checked often.
The main yachting centers are Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Gocek, Finike, Kemer. Each of them is worth describing in detail, but I will do it in other articles. The main thing is that «yachting» Turkey is very different from «all-inclusive» Turkey. And in terms of quality, content, and variety of relaxation — this is definitely something that is worth trying at least once in a lifetime.
So, as we say in Turkey — Hos Geldiniz! Welcome!