Sailing from Çesme to Bodrum

Known in Turkish as “Beautiful Izmir”, the city lies at the head of a long and narrow gulf furrowed by ships and yachts. The climate is mild, and in the summer the constant and refreshing sea breezes temper the sun’s heat. Behind the palm-lined promenades and avenues which follow the shoreline, the city, in horizontal terraces, gently ascends the slopes of the surrounding mountains. A cosmopolitan and lively city, galleries, theatres and cultural events give Izmir its special vibrancy. The original settlement was established in the third millennium B.C. and represented the most advanced culture in western Anatolia at that time. Over the years this thriving city and the surrounding area had come under the sovereignty of the Hittites, Ionians, Lydians, Persians, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans.

Levent Marina provides an excellent place to begin a yachting adventure. Sailing in and around the beautiful Gulf of Izmir will prepare voyagers for the wonderful sites that lie ahead. At Urla Iskelesi, the small islands that dot the coast will certainly charm you. Beautiful beaches and excellent moorings with swimming, snorkeling and diving are all available in the area.

From Urla Iskelesi sail on to the Karaburun Peninsula. At Karaburun, pleasant hotels, tea gardens and fish restaurants sit between the beautiful mountain backdrop and the clear, clean water. Voyage out of the Gulf of Izmir around the Karaburun Peninsula to the Çesme Peninsula, a spit of land lapped by the waters of the Aegean Sea.

Çesme, meaning ‘fountain’, derives its name from the many sources of water found in the area. A l4th century Genoese fortress, restored and enlarged by the Ottomans in the l6th century, dominates the small port of Çesme. Around Çesme, the large Altin Yunus Setur Marina complex and the berthing places of Ilica and Dalyan are all noted for their safety. In town, the l6th century caravanserai built by Süleyman the Magnificent near the fortress, has been converted into a hotel. Excellent shopping – the finest quality carpets, leather goods, as well as souvenir items are available. At night, a lively, fun atmosphere pervades, especially in the restaurants, cafes, bars and discos along the promenade. In July, Çesme’s International Song Contest attracts world famous performers who add glamour and excitement to the town. The thermal baths in the area, along with the natural springs found right off the coast and which mix with the sea water in Ilica Bay, provide soothing relaxation.

Southeast of Çesme, beautiful bays offer splendid scenery and tranquil night moorings in complete safety from the winds and waves. Soon you will arrive at Sigacik, where a picturesque marina rests beneath fortifications that date from the Genoese period. From here, the antique site of Teos, noted for its Temple of Dionysus, the god of wine, is conveniently close. It is also an excellent area in which to sample some of Turkey’s superb wines.

The Kusadasi Gulf opens to the south and south-east with some of the most enticing beaches, bays and coves on the Aegean coast.

Kusadasi is today a major holiday resort centre. During the summer months it teems with swimmers, fishermen, sun-lovers and sightseers. Once known as Scala Nova, the town boasts wonderful seafood restaurants, cafes, beautiful parks and superb beaches. The shopping is also famous; everything from beads and bangles to leather, jewelry and carpets is on offer.

The Kusadasi Turban Marina is one of the best-equipped marinas in Turkey, providing wintering for boats both afloat and on shore. Scuba diving has become very popular. Nightlife is renowned along the coast with excellent bars, jazz clubs, discos and cabarets that promise evenings filled with excitement, entertainment and possibly a little romance.

Not far from Kusadasi, the ancient site of Ephesus, an important city of antiquity, remains a highlight of any visit to Turkey. The city, whose wealth and patronage supported its splendid architectural program, was dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Her enormous temple, rebuilt several times, dates in its latest form from the third century B.C. and was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The ancient theatre has found new life as a major concert venue. Nearby is the site of St. John’s Basilica and the reputed last home of the Virgin Mary.
South of Kusadasi, the unbelievably beautiful waters of the Dilek Peninsula National Park welcome yachtsmen into its serene inlets and coves.

Between Kusadasi’s southern shores and Pamukkale lies the valley of the Menderes River (the Meander), where several ancient civilizations built major settlements, including Priene, Milet, Didyma (Didim), Aphrodisias and Hierapolis (Pamukkale).

The Temple of Apollo at Didyma was one of the most sacred places of antiquity. Many times looted and burned, the sanctuary still impresses with its elegant beauty. Not far from this archaeological site, the beautiful beach of Altinkum tempts all visitors and offers a great opportunity for sailing, swimming and relaxation. It is the last stop before entering the Güllük Gulf.

This gulf can provide a whole vacation in itself with four large natural bays and numerous coves and inlets. The whole area has excellent moorings, and scuba divers will be particularly interested in exploring these waters. The fisherman’s village of Güllük has a pretty port and numerous guest-houses and small hotels. The mythological Dolphin Boy is said to have been born a little farther to the north at Kiyikislacik (Iassos). As you sail out of this beautiful gulf, the Bodrum Peninsula welcomes you.

The little village Torba is hiding in a charming little bay. Heading North of Bodrum Torba is the nearest village. It is only active during the summer months, but due to the generally high quality of the holiday home developments is a pleasant and relaxed place to visit. There are also the remains of a Byzantine monastery, and nearby is a small path leading to the next bay, which is ideal for a little light walking. Ferries to Didim (ancient Didyma) leave from Torba harbor across the Gulf of Güllük.

We will mention the two fishing villages Türkbükü and Gölköy in one, because they are close to each other. You find them on the peninsula map east of Yalikavak. These delightful spots are the favorite retreats of many well-known Turkish artists, actors and entertainers who enliven the many small bars and restaurants at night. Several of the more popular restaurants are run by Istanbul couples who have fled the big city.

Gündogan, only a few minutes West of Yalikavak a place that can be really called peaceful. It is little village which is still more or less unspoiled despite the holiday developments on the surrounding hills. Here in the North of the peninsula a fresh breeze often comes . A reason why many surfers prefer this bay.

Yalikavak is a small, but busy, center and a harbour where visiting yachts and fishing boats moor cheerfully together. The restaurants in the town center and on the sea front are popular with locals and tourists alike. Here is little beach, but it’s more comfortable to sit in a waterside cafe and watch the world go by. Several buildings have been tastefully restored in the town; a former water cistern has become a small art gallery and a former olive oil press is converted into a kilim showroom where visitors are welcome.

Gümüs is the Turkish word for Silver. Thanks to strictly enforced building prohibitions, the sea front of Gümüslük has kept its original appearance and photogenic fishing village charm. This is the ideal spot for peace and quiet, with the added advantage of many excellent fish restaurants along the small waterfront, where you can sit comfortably next to the gently lapping sea. Your feet are touching historical ground here, it is the harbor of ancient Myndos

You find this little town at the western tip of the peninsula. Named after the famous admiral, Turgutreis, this is a *stroll* town in its own right and combines a compact town center with several long sandy beaches. This part of the coast is favored by professional wind surfers as the winds are generally strong. Regular buses connect Turgutreis with Bodrum, and in high season coaches for Istanbul and Ankara leave from the Turgutreis bus station. Kadeikalesi, is next to Turgutreis and offers some of the finest holiday resorts

Wind surfers find ideal surrounding in Akyarlar. The marvelous scenery of the Greek Aegean islands is just in front of you and it is perhaps one of the safest, sandiest beaches for children on the peninsula. There are several cafes and a tiny harbor. Camping facilities and a couple of small, inexpensive pensions for independent travelers. Still this place has its own tranquil charm.

Bitez lies 3 miles west of Bodrum, in the bay next to Gümbet. The winds here are particularly favorable for windsurfing and several water sports operators are based here. The beach is sandy, with plenty of sunloungers and umbrellas for sunbathing, Away from the beach it is possible to wander through mandarin orange groves where oxen plough and life continues as before. The village itself is a 15 minute walk, or short drive, inland and remains totally unspoiled by tourism. The only Turkish Delight (Lokum) to be made on the peninsula is made here. Dolmuses leave for Bitez every 20-30 minutes from the main bus station in Bodrum.

Only 2-3 km away from Bodrum Gümbet is the place recently became almost a resort unto itself. Gümbet (named after Kümbet – these numerous white-domed cisterns in the area) features one of the longest and most popular beaches on the peninsula. Gümbet is also one of the most popular water sports centers with water-skiing, windsurfing, parasailing, etc. available.The popularity of Gümbet has also generated serious nightlife and the streets of Gümbet vibrate till dawn with the music from numerous bars, discos and street side-cafes.