Sailing the Carian Coast

The Carian Coast runs from Bodrum to Marmaris. This fabulous lowly populated coastline offers a chance to get off the beaten track as the holiday cottage strewn hillsides around the Bodrum peninsula give way to classic Turkish “one restaurant” bays providing nothing more than a jetty and a place to eat. We are fortunate that the bulk of the tourist trade has been confined to Bodrum and Marmaris, although even these town have a certain charm, if you can stand the noise!

Loryma: Looking down from the Citadel

Loryma: Looking down from the Citadel

The area can be split in to three; the Gulf of Gokova to the east of Bodrum, the Hisaronu Gulf, with Orhaniye at its head, on the south of the Datca peninsula, and the southern coast from Bozburun around to Marmaris.

The Gulf of Gokova offers limited stops on the north side, but once in to the south east corner, there are numerous remote and sparsely inhabited pine clad inlets to chose from, with names such as English Harbour and Amazon Creek. So the only frustration is that after having to put in some longer legs at the start of the trip, you’re suddenly faced with so many options in such a small area.

Bodrum: Sea front restaurants and boats

Bodrum: Sea front restaurants and boats

The south side of the Datca peninsula is also an area of contrasts, this time in terms of sailing conditions. The western half is a little exposed and can be a bit choppy in the afternoons, but once inside the Hisaronu Gulf, things usually quieten down and this is a good area for the less experienced. There are some superb stops in the area with some charming little restaurants augmented by a few larger settlements such as Datca and Selimiye.

Heading south and then east, the coast from Bozburun Bay to Marmaris is on the dry side (I recall a guest describing one bay as like landing on the moon) but the many cliffs make for some dramatic sights, as well as making some of the bay entrances a bit hard to spot if you go too far offshore!

Bodrum: The Crusader Castle and harbour

Bodrum: The Crusader Castle and harbour

Sailing conditions in the regions are varied from the often choppy waters opposite Kos, to the more sheltered sailing in the Gulf of Hisaronu. As usual in Turkey, those who leave early tend to have quieter sails as the wind builds up through the late morning and early afternoon.

The two main launching off points for this coast are at the two ends, either from Bodrum or Marmaris which is home to numerous bareboat fleets and a couple of flotillas. However there are also a few charter yachts and a couple of flotilla operations out of Orhaniye, at the head of the Hisaronu Gulf.

If you’re headed to Marmaris or Orhaniye, the nearest airport is Dalaman from where you’ve a 1.5-2 hour road trip. Dalaman is well served by charter flights on Saturdays from numerous UK airports (see the Flight Options section of my website for the full list).  If the length of the transfer puts you off, consider Gocek on the Lycian Coast.

As well as bareboats and flotillas, Marmaris is also home to a couple of RYA sailing schools and yacht based cabin charters are also available.

Bodrum: The Castle and harbour by night

Bodrum: The Castle and harbour by night

Aside from the noise, Marmaris has the disadvantage of having few destinations close by and whether you chose to head east of west, sooner or later you’ve a 20-25 mile passage to do. On a good day at 5 knots or more that’s not too bad though a little more than some flotilla regulars may be used to.

The harder direction tends to be heading west as the prevailing NW winds bend to run along the coast, meaning you can often find yourself heading into both the wind and the swell. A departure earlier in the day, before the wind builds up is a good plan if you want an easier time.

Alternatively, flotilla fans can take one of the runs from Orhaniye where the sheltered Hisaronu Gulf offers an easier option.