Chartering either a motor schooner (gulet) or a smaller yacht out of Marmaris will allow you to explore the convoluted coast from Bodrum as far as Kaş. Especially out of high season, the daily cost isn’t necessarily prohibitive – no more than renting a medium-sized car, for example – and in the case of a gulet, a knowledgeable crew will be included. Virtually all the shore is accessible by boat, with abundant hidden anchorages.
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You can pre-book a yacht charter through specialist holiday operators, or make arrangements on the spot. Prices are always quoted in euros or US dollars, but it’s possible to pay in Turkish lira. Substantial deposits are required – usually fifty percent of the total price.
The best option for individual travellers or small groups is a cabin charter. Several companies set aside one schooner whose berths are let out individually. The craft departs on a particular day of the week with a fixed itinerary of three to seven days. Typical prices, including all food and watersports equipment, range from €390 per person per week in April, May and October, to over €470 between June and September.
If you can assemble a large group, and have more time, consider a standard charter of a 20m motor schooner. A group of twelve, for example, will pay around €35 each daily during May or October, not including food or sporting equipment, and around €45 from June to September. Companies often offer to supply food from about €30 per person per day, though the best strategy is to dine in restaurants at your evening mooring and to keep the galley stocked for breakfast and snacks. If you tip the crew appropriately they’re usually happy to shop for you. Old and reliable charter agencies in Marmaris include Yeşil Marmaris, Barbaros Cad 118 (t0252 412 6486, wyesilmarmaris.com).
For greater independence, so-called “bareboat yacht” charter is the answer. Prices range from under €1000 for the smallest boat in off season, to €5800 for the largest in high season. This assumes that at least one of your party is a certified skipper; otherwise count on at least €140 a day extra (plus food costs) to engage one. For bareboat yachts, a large local operator is Offshore Sailing at the Albatros Marina, 3km east of Netsel Marina (t0252 412 8889, woffshore-sailing.net).
Boat trips from Marmarıs
Day excursions aboard a gulet depart from the southern end of Kordon Cad and the castle peninsula. Trips usually visit highlights of the inner bay, heading to a fish farm on the north side of Cennet Adası, caves on its south shore, then completing the day with a visit to Kumlubükü or Turunç coves. In summer, boats leave around 10.30am and return between 5pm and 6pm, and charge around TL20 per person, including lunch (no drinks).
You’ll also see signs in Marmaris offering trips to Cleopatra’s Isle. These actually refer to the islet of Sedir Adası (Cedar Island), near the head of the Gulf of Gökova, and said to have served as a trysting place for Cleopatra and Mark Antony. The sand on its beach was supposedly brought from Africa at Mark Antony’s behest, and indeed analysis has shown that the grains are not from local strata. The tours leave between 10 and 11am from Çamli İskelesı, and return at 4 or 5pm. The departure point is 6km down a side road that starts 12km north of Marmaris; most passengers get there on tour operators’ shuttle buses, but hourly dolmuşes leave from the otogar.