I AGREE – BEACHES, POOLS, CHIC HOTELS, GARDENS AND ACTIVITIES SOUND REALLY FUN. BUT DO WE HAVE TO SPEND OUR HOLIDAY ON LAND AFTER WORKING LIKE ANTS ALL YEAR ROUND? NOT AT ALL.

Once in a while, one should break the habit and pursue the unexplored – to drift away from repetition, to find new passions and to change life even if it’s for a week. One way to do this is to leave behind the grey asphalt and walled spaces, and to sail into the world of blue. The horizon on one side and dense forests on the other, the sea below and sky above. Gökova is what I have in mind, which is the first place that comes to mind when you talk about a Blue Cruise. This is where green meets blue, and the circle of friendship between the sea, the sun and the sky gets closer. Gökova builds lasting relationships with sea lovers who travel not only from Turkey but all across the world.

Situated between Bodrum and Datça Peninsulas, Gökova is a 50-mile-long bay surrounded by pine and sweetgum trees with pristine coves that snuggle into the bosom of Western Anatolian and ancient civilizations.

Having inspired dozens of works by Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, i.e. the Fisherman of Halicarnassus, Azra Erhat, and Sabahattin Eyüboğlu, and offered the world the concept of “Blue Cruise,” this wonder of nature is best explored by sea. And I’d humbly suggest that you go on a sailing cruise around these lacework-like shores with the Etesian winds at your back, as they say. Whether you take your own boat or rent one, make sure you leave from Bodrum and spare a week to explore this blue realm – even better if you have more time!

Declared a special preservation area in 1988, this paradise of green and blue has been protected by a number of environmentalists, especially Sadun Boro, who was the first Turkish amateur sailor to tour the world. Boro, who passed away on World Environment Day in 2015, dedicated his life to the preservation of our country’s coastlines not only as a sailor but also as a lover of nature. Gökova, however, is not just about sea; you can drop anchor in the coves and go on hikes on land early in the morning or at sunset. Here are some suggestions for a week-long boat trip.

1.st Day From Bodrum to Büyük Çatı Cove
Set sail early in the morning, and a five- or six-hour ride from Bodrum will take you to Büyük Çatı. Make sure to cast a fishing line behind the boat in case you catch your dinner. Surrounded by green pine forests, Büyük Çatı is a well-preserved cove. If you need water, you can use the water pump and the well behind the wooden pier to the west, and if you have been unlucky, make sure to buy some fresh seasonal fish from the fishermen. 

2nd Day From Büyük Çatı to the Seven Islands
You can spend the second day hiking towards Küçük Çatı or other coves through the forest paths, and pick some sea beans along the way. Upon leaving Büyük and Küçük Çatı coves, you can take a swimming break at Balıkaşıran, Çilekli Cove or Bördübet. Other alternatives for lowering anchor include Çamaltı, Bekar, Uzun and Saklı Pier. Bekar Pier is ideal for boats with waterlines less than 2 meters; it can host three or four boats at the same time and is impervious to all weather conditions. There’s a lovely restaurant at Küfre Cove to the southeast. If you enjoy snorkeling or standup paddle (SUP), you can visit the reefs in the east of Martılı Island where you’ll find beautiful coral reefs and a view of the islands.

3rd Day From the Seven Islands to Okluk Cove
Raise anchor at the Seven Islands and head northward. To starboard, you’ll see Teke and Hırsız Coves. However, it’s unsuitable to spend the night here because of the Aegean’s fast Etesian winds. The well-preserved coves in Değirmen Bay, 12 miles from the Seven Islands, are Okluk, Hırsız and the British Cove, where British ships anchored during World War II. At the entrance of Okluk Cove, the mermaid statue by Tankut Öktem looks at visitors as if to welcome them to Gökova. There are two restaurants you can visit in Okluk. You should try eggs with butter and sujuk for breakfast and fish for dinner. There’s water at the store and a power source at the pier. Make sure to stroll along the hiking trail built in memory of Sadun Boro and fill your lungs with fresh air.

4th Day From Okluk to Cedar Islands
Our next stop is Cedar Islands, about 6 miles ahead, where you can dip in turquoise waters and visit Cleopatra Beach with its ancient city and golden beaches. Early in the morning, before the Etesian winds begin, the sea is as still as a pond. It’s best not to stay the night here so as to avoid the harsh wind of the north, and go back 3.5 miles towards Karacasöğüt village pier or the open sea. 

5th Day From Cedar Islands to Çökertme
Located to the north of Gökova Bay, Çökertme (Fesleğen Cove) is another place to stop by on your way back to Bodrum. You should set sail early to avoid the Etesian winds while sailing westward. There are three restaurants with piers in Çökertme where you can also find a store, gas, water and electricity. Walk the trails lined with olive trees, and chat with locals, who earn their living by weaving carpets and rugs, to hear interesting stories.

6th Day From Çökertme to Adalı Yalı
Known as the entrance/exit point to/from Gökova, Adalı Yalı is my last stop to enjoy tranquility. There’s a pebbled beach behind the 2-3 meter-tall rock formation in the middle of the cove. You can go on a walk into the forest, where you’ll find an old well here. Usually serving as a “swimming location” for gullets, the cove’s southern part is home to the remains of an old church. It’s a wonderful place where you can listen to the chirping birds and take in the sea smell.

7th Day From Adalı Yalı to Bodrum
Take the last day and night to rest in Bodrum. All you need for this lovely trip is two things: determination and a boat. If you’re ready, it’s time to choose your yacht!

THE BEST BOAT IS YOURS!
There are many alternatıves but start wıth these 15-meter favorıtes of summer 2017.

Franken&Meer Boats Bavaria Cruiser 51
With two-to-five cabin options, the Bavaria Cruiser 51 has three showers and bathrooms. The boat has a lounge with a ceiling height of 2.11 meters, and stands out with its living spaces and style. The boat features a Volvo Penta D2-75 engine with a fuel capacity of 280 liters and water capacity of 560 liters.

Tezmarin Beneteau Sense 51
The boat comes with two or three cabins. The three-step entrance stair makes the transition between the cockpit and the lounge easier. Featuring a unique blueprint, Sense 51’s cabins are located in the fore, enabling a lower position for the cockpit. The fact that there’s no cabin in the stern not only adds larger storage under the cockpit floor but also enables a wider entrance via the three steps. This design aims at making it possible for two people to sail simultaneously.

The hydraulic rear platform can turn into a wide swimming platform. There is a sink and a barbecue beneath the steersman seat. Featuring an 80 HP Yanmar Diesel Common Rail engine, the boat’s standard fuel capacity is 415 liters and water capacity is 570 liters.

Hanse 505
The abundance of light ports and the buried hatch increases the sense of spaciousness inside the boat. Offering seating plans of up to six cabins and a bed capacity for 11 people, the boat can sail safe and at a high performance even in challenging and varying conditions. Featuring a 72 HP engine, the boat has a fuel capacity of 300 liters and a water capacity of 650 liters.

Top Leisure Jeanneau 51
In addition to a collapsible swimming platform, Jeanneau 51 also has a davit to lift/lower a service boat, which can be hidden in the stern when not in use. The map desk and wide sofa are located towards the interior fore to create a pleasant lounge atmosphere. The boat has a functional, U-shaped kitchen area. The main cabin in the fore is comfortable with a big bed, two-sided seating arrangements, a parent bathroom and wardrobe. There’s a VIP cabin in the stern. Offering different seating plans, Jeanneau 51 has a fuel capacity of 240 liters and a water capacity of 640 liters. Powered by an 80 HP Sail Drive Yanmar engine, the boat can also be purchased with a Yanmar 110 HP engine. Jeanneau 51 also has an ideal and comfortable design for long, family trips without a crew.

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