You won't know whether it's real or you're dreaming when you take a Blue Cruise in the waters between Marmara and Fethiye where green mingles with blue.
"Blue you can understand. The sea too. But the Blue Sea is a conundrum." Poet Melih Cevdet Anday's lines come rolling off my tongue as the yachts set sail from Marmaris to Fethiye and the deep blue sea draws my soul straight in. Add to that the pine trees' luminous green that spreads over the water as if to cool off, and my entire being is tossed hither and yon until it lands at Ekincik. Passing Dalyan, it turns first to Disibilmez and then to the headlands at SKurtoglu where it plunges into Fethiye Bay, cutting a wide circle from left to right. Then it's Bedri Rahmi cove followed by Gocek and from there to the Dodecanese and then Kayakoy, where it finally lands like a bird.
BOONS OF THE TRIP Known in antiquity as Physkos, this ancient port city of Caria dates back to 900 B.C. Following the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods and brief rule by the Mentesogulları principality,it joined the Ottoman empire following a conquest by Suleyman the Magnificent in 1522 and came to be known as Mimaras and its later variations, Mermeris and Marmaris. Most of the Carian ruins lie in the vicinity of the Bozburun peninsula. The most important historical structure in the city center is the fortress erected by Suleyman. Thought to have been built originally by the Ionians, Marmaris Castle was opened up for settlement following the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Other Ottoman buildings in the city include the Hafza Sultan Caravanserai and the vaulted bazaar in the old marketplace. For years a tranquil town of fishermen and sponge-divers, Marmaris became one of Turkey's leading centers of tourism starting in the 1980s. Whether you arrive by plane at Dalaman or over land, when you've crossed the last hills down the road lined with pines, you'll encounter a sign saying 'Iste Marmaris':Here's Marmaris!. This is the best spot for getting a bird's eye view of the city.
When you reach the coast, you'll either plunge wholeheartedly into the fast-paced action, or set sail for a quiet holiday on one of the many available yachts and try to fathom the 'deep blue sea'. The 'Blue Cruise' you'll make from Marmaris to Fethiye will take you into waters where green mingles with blue, and you won't know whether it's real or just a dream. Ekincik Bay should be your first stop after leaving Marmaris. You'll moor at the vaulted quays in the pine-shaded Semizce 1 and Semizce 2 coves, where you can enjoy delightful evenings at the clubs and restaurants on the shore. And if you anchor in the open sea off Dalyan, which takes its name from the area's natural canals and the fishing weirs set up here, you can not only tour the canals in one of the small boats waiting at the shore, you can also have a soothing mud bath at one of the nearby spas. Meanwhile the royal rock tombs, the ancient city of Kaunos, and Iztuzu Plage, nesting ground of the Caretta caretta, are some of the added boons of this route.
COVES AND ISLANDS GALORE The islands and the coves of Fethiye and Gocek are far and away the best stops on this route. No sooner will you enter the cove than an array of incredibly beautiful islands such as Domuz, Tersane, Gocek, Tavsan and Yassica (fanciful names that translate as, for example, 'Pig' and 'Rabbit') will rise before you. Domuz island, so named for the many wild boar that used to roam there, is covered with olive groves and pine trees. The island also has a harbor naturally sheltered from the wind. The Yassica islands, where you can watch the world's most stunning sunsets, are small and have no touristic facilities. Just choose a patch of land, tie up your boat and take a hike; on the biggest one you'll come to a lake that makes it all worth the effort. Tersane, the largest of the islands on the Gocek side, boasts the homes of the former Anatolian Greeks which were vacated in the population exchange of 1918. Gocek island, first choice for those who prefer to stay in town and swim at the nearest beach, is an excellent port for you and your yacht. The minute you get there,
you can anchor at either the municipal marina or one of the private marinas and delve into the town, where your feet will lead you automatically into the narrow back streets with their bustling array of colorful shops. If hiding out in secluded coves is your thing, you'll encounter scores of them at Gocek. Kille, Taslica, Sarsala, Hamam and Gobun to mention just a few. At the entrance to Taslica cove, also known as 'Bedri Rahmi Cove', the first thing you'll notice are the rock tombs cut into the hills on your right, to be followed by the figure of a fish painted on a rock by none other than Bedri Rahmi Eyüboglu himself, one of Turkey's leading painters and poets of the last century. The green foliage and scent of the storax trees that line Boynuz Buku from end to end will instantly start you daydreaming. The emerald coves of Sarsala and Hamam cove with its ancient ruins submerged under the water will be the most beautiful stops on your trip. When you anchor at this cove, you can either swim straight out to the baths, or view the ruins from land as you stroll under the pines. Later, when you set sail once again, you'll come to the coves of Yavansu and Gobun.
NATURE AND HISTORY HAND IN HAND When you turn towards Fethiye from the coves of Gocek, you will come to three islands. One of them is known as Kizil Ada, the 'red island', for the reddish hue the sand and pebbles on its shore take on at sunset. The islands large and small to the northwest of this island are a favorite place with diving buffs. Sovalye or Chevalier Island just at the entrance to Fethiye is a spot once used by the Knights of Rhodes. As you unfurl your sails and head for the islands, you will turn at Bozburun and Iblis Point to arrive at the Bay of Belcegiz. Here, where you will find nature and history hand in hand, is the island of Gemile and, directly opposite it, the village of Kayakoy nestled in the hills. As Gemile entertains 'blue cruise' enthusiasts with its ruins dating back to the Byzantine period, it also offers the added boon of the world's most gorgeous sunsets. A number of ruins have been unearthed in the excavations that have been under way here since 1991 under the direction of the Fethiye Archaeological Museum Directorate and a team of Japanese archaeologists.
As you wander amidst the ruins in the hills, which you will climb at sundown, you will try to engrave all the beauty on your heart and in your very being when the sun's red glow falls upon the ruins and mosaics. For they will afford memories you can return to all winter long. And if you wander out to the beach opposite the island, you'll be surrounded by children's voices. Save a break at the beach cafe for later and start your hike up to Kayakoy. Five meters up the slope you'll come upon an abandoned Greek village in ruins. The artisans' workshops in this village, which is just these days gaining fame, have started to open as restaurants. When you've completed your village tour and have returned to the coast by the way you came, don't forget to have a glass of tea at the tiny rustic coffeehouse on the shore where you can watch the island slip into the bosom of the night as you chat with your friends. And before you leave, be sure to visit Kelebekler Vadisi, the valley of the butterflies,
one of the most beautiful coves not just in Turkey but in the whole world. This cove is not accessible from the sea by your 'blue cruise' yacht. But once you've arrived at the Oludeniz, make an effort to hire a small motorboat and, if you can, spend a night here to make another of your dreams come true...