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The SW corner(the Carian coast), includes both Bodrum (a most attractive town) and Marmaris, two major charter centres for all types of yachts. Although these towns are only 40nm apart, there is nearly 200nm of coastline between them, deeply indented with gulfs and headlands. Yes, there is villa sprawl, noise and dense tourism around the Bodrum peninsula, but there are quiet anchorages to be found, especially in the gulf of Hisaronü. Yacht support is superb, best value in the Mediterranean, with some six marinas to choose from. Marmaris bay, although tourist developed on the western side, is otherwise set among beautiful pine forested hillsides.
Weather. Winters are milder in this SW corner than in the more northern Mediterranean regions, and the summer season is that little bit longer, making this a most popular cruising destination - and a favourite for live-aboards. Summer winds are dominated by the NW meltemi, often reaching F6 or 7, which curls around the headlands and accelerates over the long thin peninsulas of the region, creating strong gusts on the lee side. Deeper into the gulfs, wind strengths decrease.
The gulf of Gökova, sheltered by the Bodrum peninsula penetrates over 40nm inland. Around Bodrum is heavily developed. Further inland, the steep to northern coast has limited attractions. The southern shore is delightful, with many anchorages. Some are deserted, others have simple restaurants, others have small villages, and one or two are overwhelmed by day trippers. Places of interest are:
Gümüslük. A delightful spot, a "must visit". A well sheltered anchorage surrounded by the ruins of ancient Myndos, with a small village tucked alongside. Only lightly influenced by tourism.
Turgutries. A full service marina and port of entry about 4nm south of Gümüslük, set at the foot of a long sprawl of low lying holiday developments. The old village has become a busy holiday town, with good shopping and a good market. Winter ashore or afloat.
Anchorages W of Bodrum. A string of sound anchorages and beaches sheltered from the meltemi lead from Akyarlar to Bodrum. All have restaurants. The nearer Bodrum, the busier, noisier, and more developed the beach. Bitez is beyond the limit for many; Gümbet is worse - a new meaning for a "sound" anchorage. Avoid.
Bodrum. A great town, bustling with energy, lots to see, a "must visit". The whole bay is dominated by St Peter's Castle (a museum), and at night, in season, music from the Halicarnas club. The town harbour is very well sheltered. Hundreds of gulets line the north shores, while visitors use the full service Milta Marina in the west side. This is a port of entry, suitable for wintering afloat. Excellent yacht services. It is just a 7nm hop across to Kos, Greece, if you prefer to lay up inside the EU, with frequent ferries to and fro.
Içmeler, just 1nm SE of Bodrum in the outer bay, has a number of yards suitable for layup ashore.
Gulf of Gökova, North shore. For the first half of the trip east towards Gökova there's somewhere to stop every 10nm (sometimes two or three together) with small restaurants in the background, eager to serve. In stronger meltemi conditions, big gusts blast down off these steep hillsides.
Gökova itself is some 3-5 km inland. Akyaka is the small Turkish holiday resort on the coast, a separate municipality. Anchor either off the town beach in settled weather or in the İskele (Old Harbour) which is the bay just before. Most facilities can be found here, including small supermarkets, a bakery and a garage approx 5 minutes by taxi out of town if fuel is needed.
Gulf of Gökova, South shore. A 25nm stretch of the south coast is littered with small islands and inlets providing a range of anchorages, most served by the ubiquitous small restaurant. A few (Cleopatra's Island is one) are grossly overcrowded in summer daytime, but many make delightful overnight stops. Just pray you are not sharing with a noisy gulet party. The western 25nm of the south coast has little except Körmen harbour, in which a marina is under construction (early 2014).
This pair of gulfs, running over 40nm east from Knidos, almost enclose the Greek island of Symi. At Karaburun, the southern headland, turn left for Marmaris. There are two small towns suitable for provisioning; Datça and Bozburun, both ports of entry. The gulfs are liberally spread with small anchorages. Working NW to SE, Places worth noting are:
Knidos is well worth a stop. Poke around the un-tended remnants of an amphitheatre and ruins of ancient Knidos. Restaurants serve (the many) boat borne visitors, who scramble for a place end on to the quay, or anchor off. Some 20nm east, past a few anchorages tended by small restaurants, is:
Datça, a port of entry. Nice quayside, usually fairly busy with yachts. Agents will arrange yacht entry. Fuel available.
Marti Marina, Orhaniye. 20nm further west near the head of the gulf of Hisarönü is the improbable site of a marina - until one realises it is only half an hour's drive from Marmaris. A delightful, quiet setting among pine forests. Wintering afloat or ashore is possible.
Bozburun, a small town at the head of the Gulf of Yeşilova, has a well sheltered harbour. It's an attractive stop for provisions and restaurants. Once a centre for traditional wooden boat building, there are several nearby shore hards suitable for layup, using wheeled sleds with hydraulic lifts, capable of handling deep fin keel yachts. Very good value compared to Marmaris yards, with cheap accommodation for fit out.
The 20nm stretch of coast from the Karaburun peninsula to Marmaris Bay is a short coast of transit, dotted with a few small anchorages with restaurants.
Marmaris Bay itself is the centre of the Turkish yachting and charter industry, as well as being a beach holiday destination. The bay is a big triangle, about 3nm along the base, and 2nm to the apex - Marmaris town. The bay is surrounded by pine forests, and the NW coast is lined with hotels. There are two major full service marinas with large shore hards, and several cheaper yacht facilities around the east side of the bay, and a substantial light industrial area (saniye) for fabrication work. This is the best value and most versatile Mediterranean location for major re-fits or repairs to leisure boats.
Reviewed Apr 2015