I’d imagined sun drenched islands with spartan vegetation, goat bells and tiny blue domed churches.  I felt them all calling to me when I was sitting at home in Australia, dreaming about the Greek Islands. Yet….and despite this yearning we made a change to our plans in order to head directly into Turkey after we launched. It was a pragmatic decision based on how busy Turkey gets in the summer and how hot. It had been on our radar to head both South and East to a place called Kekova Roads since we’d first heard and read about it in 2019. Images of sailing over sunken, ancient cities had ignited our desire to explore this stretch of coast and so we hopped on the southerly flow of a Meltemi to get ourselves there.

We checked out of Greece in Leros then jumped across to Didim in Turkey to complete the check in process to enter Turkey. This done; we then had a few very big day sails down to the Fethiye Gulf.  Sailing along this coast requires a lot of attention to the border of Greece and Turkey which is no straight line due to islands belonging to Greece sitting inside bays that are part of mainland Turkey.  Heading out early past the tip of Kos we were visited by not one but two Greek Coastguard vessels.  It’s one of the closest points on the border and many refugees have launched themselves across the narrow channel between the 2 nations. Around 5.30 am they would have spied us on their radar. The first one smiled and waved but the second buzzed around us at high speed as we were within metres of the border. No cutting corners allowed or tolerated and this was just a reminder.

Sunrise off the Turkish mainland as we scoot past Kos.

After a boisterous 50 mile sail we stopped for a few nights in beautiful Bozburun, a small coastal town that was both charming and friendly. We sorted a phone plan, stocked up on fresh produce then headed for the Fethiye Gulf on the tail of the Meltemi, the strong summer winds that blow down from the Balkans roaring through the Greek Islands but moderating somewhat once they hit the land mass of Turkey.

Intention sitting pretty at the town quay in Bozburun
Looking from the town quay out into the bay at Bozburun
A day trip to Mamaris on the bus not only yielded phone plans but the worlds best olives too!

Onwards and around the corner of the peninsula we went having a very wet and exhilarating sail to Serçe Limani, an old favourite. Just us and not another soul in sight.

Warm and dry in Serçe Limani with the entrance behind.
Setting off early the following morning through the keyhole entrance

We spent a bit of time around Fethiye exploring the most glorious ancient ruins and a few days of blissful nothing after a pretty full-on start to the season.  We sat in anchorages where the swimming was great, the water a perfect temperature yet in the far distance were the snow-capped mountain ranges further inland. 

A neighbouring Aussie boat with the snow capped peaks high above.

And we re-visited a few favourite spots. One being Sarsala, a great point to pick people up flying in for a holiday but also a lovely spot in most weather.

We scrambled up a hill to get this shot. Came back bleeding! But Intention sits in the best spot in Sarsala

The highlight was anchoring in Ruin Bay.  Our boat was med moored with our anchor out and lines tied off to rocks behind the stern of the boat.  It was so clear we could see the bottom below us and were able to tie right in close to shore.  It’s a beautiful bay but what makes it really special is the complex of ancient baths tucked into its corner. It is said that Marc Antony built them for Cleopatra as a wedding present and records show she did, indeed visit. Unlikely to have been their honeymoon given he was already married to someone else but whoever let the truth get in the way of a good story?  But it’s an amazing setting with pine trees and ancient walls almost falling down into the bay. We stayed a few days, watching the passing parade of Gullets, day trippers, yachts and gin palaces all dropping in and then heading back out for the next stop on their tour.

Tied back to the rocks on shore in Ruin Bay
Cleopatra’s Hammam (Baths). You can see rock walls under the water
Walking from Ruin Bay around to Wall Bay
Ancient walls….

Then it was into the town of Goçek to get fresh water (not as easy as you would think) and more provisions. We only needed a pump out of our toilet holding tanks and we were ready to leave. We spent the next morning chasing down the ‘Shit Ship’ a mobile pump out boat before we left the bay. In Turkey all yachts have to be pumped out every 2 weeks or risk a fine.  It is a great way to make sure the turquoise waters stay clean.  While I admire this initiative and never resent the $20 it costs us the gulf is slowly filling with single use plastics and rubbish of all sorts which makes me fear for this pristine environment and its future even if it’s free of a different type of human waste.

St Nicholas’s Island directly ahead. People paraglide off the peak behind. It’s bare slopes a clear landmark.
Not a great shot but arch of old basilica can be seen. Ruins cover the entire island

So all ready to go we headed out of the gulf and into a small bay opposite a monastery built by St Nicholas in the 3rd century, the church clearly visible and all manner of buildings covering the slopes of this tiny island. The following morning we headed out with Kekova Roads firmly in our sights.

I am sure there is a way to do this so it doesn’t look so amateurish but I’ve yet to find it!

Posted by:cathmaddox

16 replies on “The Most Beautiful Coast

  1. Fabulous, just followed this route ourselves over past 6 weeks (with a side trip to NZ to take my elderly parents to Raro on holiday for a week) … just sailing back from Fethiyre to Marmaris now to drop off current visitors – then Greece for 2 months … gorgeous sail today.

  2. I wrote this big comment on WordPress, then had to sign in, in vain….. Blocked again….

    Anyway I was saying that we cycled around that way over 30 years ago – a very different area back then, but we loved it, even though land based…..

    Very envious of your travels, when we are working back here, but I took the arvo off to meet my lovely new mum and her gorgeous 8 week old baby, whom I’m going to support this year. Held the babe for 2 hours whilst he slept…. Sooo cute.

    We are enjoying our last few days in Wilsons …sunshiny days and chilly nights with the fire going. Then moving back to Ocean Shores to renovate that house and garden, sell, and maybe head over your way!! Fingers crossed…

    Enjoy the rest of your glorious travels….

    Robyn xxx

    1. Ohhhh Rob. Change is in the air again then. Sorry about the WordPress commenting difficulty. I’ve heard this before. No idea how to sort it.
      Sending love and enjoy cuddling that baby. Only 3 weeks until ours is due!!!!!

  3. Loved this. Was following you on google maps then realised you’d done it all for me! Grandparents in three weeks! Wow!

  4. I am vicariously enjoying your sailing adventure as I reminisce sailing around Budrun and Fetiyeh in 2010. Cleopatra’s baths, ancient tombs carved into the cliffs, abandoned village of Kayakoy, Oludeniz beach with paragliders, friendly secluded bays with fresh garden veggies, and spectacular vistas. This is a special place. Wishing you fair winds.

  5. Looks like the change was worthwhile. A timeless place and the swimming must be heaven in those quiet little bays?

    Crap weather here with snow down to sea level this weekend, so stay where you are.

    What’s the fishing like?


    1. Ha! Yes Ambar will be the family representative there to see the snow!
      Fishing is good here. Heaps of variety. Boat next to us caught dinner last night. Not for us sadly!

  6. What a wonderful adventure you are having Cath. Thank you so much for sharing it with this frustrated armchair traveller who dreams of ‘far away places with strange sounding names’ ………
    Lovely to see you and Rick looking so happy and healthy – travel well – I await eagerly, for the next episode 😃.

  7. I am definitely a land – lubber…. but I certainly appreciate your adventures and adventurous souls! Thank you for sharing this. I had heard before about the prickly feeling between Greece and Turkey with respect to borders. Tough to see a border when at sea among islands. Ian learned about it and more when he had to leave Gaza for a while (Kailin and I were in the states). I think it was 2003?

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