Carian coast: Yacht charter bases

There are three bases on the Carian coast, Bodrum Town (Milta marina) at the west end, Marmaris at the east end, with Orhaniye in between at the head of the Hisaronu Gulf. There are two more bases just outside the area at Turgutreis and Yalikavak, on the west and north sides of the Bodrum peninsula respectively.

  • Bodrum
    Bodrum: The Crusader Castle looking out to Kos

    Bodrum: The Crusader Castle looking out to Kos

    Bodrum is a popular tourist destination, though many visitors will rarely leave their resorts scattered around the peninsula.

    In the town itself, there’s plenty to see from cultural attractions such as the Castle, Mausoleum and Amphitheatre, to the many shopping opportunities in the bazaar and elsewhere.

    The place heaves with restaurants and bars though as is often the case, most near the centre are unremarkable with more interesting options out towards the marina, or up the main street towards the bus station.

    Bodrum: View from the top of the Roman Amphitheatre

    Bodrum: View from the top of the Roman Amphitheatre

    The bazaar is a maze of open air pedestrianised streets and alleys offering everything from clothing to jewellery, and souvenirs to tattoo parlours. As with Marmaris, there are bargains to be had, but plenty of fakes to catch out the unwary.

    There are also more traditional markets twice a week, focusing on clothing on Tuesdays and a fruit and veg on Fridays.

    Bodrum has all the facilities you would expect of a fair sized town. There are several large supermarkets just outside town, with a smaller one on the main street, which will probably suffice for most yacht provisioning. There are also plenty of mini markets, bakers, butchers, chemists, banks, ATM’s, money changers, and a post office.

    Bodrum: The Castle and harbour by night

    Bodrum: The Castle and harbour by night

    Bodrum is a large charter base and many people will start or finish their charter there. For those stopping on the way through the high marina fees can be a deterrent but it’s an excellent place to take a break from the sailing and either head over to Kos for the day or spend a day sightseeing.

  • Directions to Bodrum

    From Bodrum Milas Airport to Bodrum

    Bodrum is about 25 miles (40km) from the airport. You’ve a choice of methods to get in to town:

    1. By taxi – the rank is right outside the arrival hall. Fares are regulated – look out for the large yellow board near the rank. In 2013, the fare was 95TL (about £30).
    2. By airport shuttle. This runs from the Domestic terminal but calls in to the International terminal on the way past. The service is run by Havas and is geared to domestic departures and arrivals, but there isn’t one for every plane and teh service tends to be more concentrated around early morning and late afternoon! Timetables are hard to determine – try contacting Havas via their website; www.havas.net, or if in Bodrum have a look at their office opposite the bus station or at the stop itself. The price is 10TL (about £3). From Bodrum bus station, Milta Marina is about a 20 minutes walk, straight down the hill to the seafront then turn right.
    3. By bus. No service buses are allowed in the airport so take a taxi to Milas, about 10 miles away, from where you can get a bus direct in to town. From Bodrum bus station proceed as above.

    You can also book a private transfer on line. Most yacht charter companies are also happy to arrange transfers, and one or two do this for free.

    Kos to Bodrum

    A daily ferry service runs from the beginning of May to the end of October with 2 ferries a day most days. Price one way is 23€ (about £20), including port taxes. Journey time is about 20 minutes.  You can book tickets at www.ferrybodrum.com.

  • Mooring: Bodrum
    Bodrum: Yachts and motor cruisers crowd the marina

    Bodrum: Yachts and motor cruisers crowd the marina

    The Crusader Castle can be seen from a distance and the harbour entrance is immediately left of this. Bodrum Milta Karada Marina is your only choice for a berth. You can call the marina on channel 73 or make your way in and the staff will direct you to a spot. Mooring is stern to with lazy lines in most locations.

    The Marina is rather expensive and in high season not the quietest of places to stay but is convenient for the centre of town about 20 minutes walk away (though you’ll pass plenty of restaurants before you get there, if that’s all you’re looking for). Fuel water and electricity are available in the marina, with provisions on offer just outside.

    Bodrum: The bay with yachts at anchor, the Castle and harbour

    Bodrum: The bay with yachts at anchor, the Castle and harbour

    For those seeking a quieter and cheaper stay, yachts can anchor in the bay east of the castle.

  • Marmaris
    Marmaris: The Castle, from the days of Suleyman the Magnificent, now houses a small museum

    Marmaris: The Castle, from the days of Suleyman the Magnificent, now houses a small museum

    Marmaris is a popular holiday destination, for both beach holidays and yacht charter. Arriving by sea the view isn’t promising with high rise hotels lining the beach. Fortunately the town centre and the main marina are at the far end so you need not see any more of the “Costa del” style development for the rest of your stay.

    The town focuses around the harbour front which loops around the small castle. The promenade offers a seemingly endless chain of restaurants, all offering pretty much the same fare, but some with drinks cheaper than the supermarkets!

    Behind the front is the large market, looking a little more like a shopping mall since it’s recent renovation but still a fascinating place, whether you’re looking for clothes, leather, jewellery, souvenirs, or fake just about anything (sometimes proudly advertised as such)!

    Marmaris: The harbour, unsually empty and sea front restaurants. The yachts have just left the fuel quay

    Marmaris: The harbour, unsually empty and sea front restaurants. The yachts have just left the fuel quay

    Don’t be afraid of the market. Some traders may try to tempt you with their wares but a polite no thank you works fine; they’re not as aggressive as in many middle eastern markets and you may still be offered a cup of tea.

    If you are buying, don’t be afraid to haggle, even if the traders tell you they don’t do that any more!

    If you’re not sure what you’re buying do be aware that fake jewellery and clothing isn’t usually declared as such and you will see a lot more brand names on display than true brand goods.

    I’m told by those more clued up than me that there are some jewellery bargains to be had but it’s probably not a good place for the unaware to part with large sums of cash.

    Marmaris: Fishing boats seen from the footbridge in to Netsel Marina. Bar Street is off to the left

    Marmaris: Fishing boats seen from the footbridge in to Netsel Marina. Bar Street is off to the left

    Similarly, there is some good clothing – Turkey is a major manufacturer – but I’ve also had guests surprised that their 3 for £5 brand name T shorts dripped colour the first time they got wet!

    Also behind the front is Bar Street. (There’s a street for everything in Marmaris, tyre street, electronics street etc). Depending on your taste, this is either a great place to party or a source of irritation as the music booms out in to the small hours. They do at least provide some good laser displays to light up the night sky.

    There’s not much you can’t get in Marmaris. A hypermarket in the far side of the town centre supplements many smaller mini markets and the many diverse shops offer all you can imagine – you can even buy individual keys for your mobile phone!

    There’s a good hospital, dentists, doctors, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, banks, ATM’s, money changers, pharmacies, chemists, Tukish baths, even a Burger King (or is it a McDonalds, I avoid the places) and an Indian restaurant.

    Marmaris: The beach gets packed in high season.

    Marmaris: The beach gets packed in high season.

    If you want to eat with the locals, head behind the town.  Most of the offerings are delicious, though as a treat(?) my hosts once took me for a meal of sheep’s brains and testicles which was perhaps not memorable in the way they intended.

    Marmaris is a marmite town – most people love it or hate it, but for my money, it’s well worth putting up with the noise from the bars for all the other things to see and experience. And if all you or the kids want is to relax on a sandy beach, then there’s several miles of the stuff, though you’ll have to share it with a few thousand others.

  • Directions to Marmaris

    From Dalaman Airport to Marmaris

    Most people come to Marmaris via Dalaman Airport, about 65 miles (110km) away. From the airport you’ve a couple of ways to reach Marmaris:

    1. By Taxi – the rank is right outside the arrivals hall. Fares are regulated, in theory, but you might want to agree the price before you set off, if only so the driver knows that you know! There’s a large board near the rank giving the standard fares, or you can check them on the airport website. The current fare (March 2014) is 140 TL, about £40 to Marmaris, a little more if your charter company is at the far side of the bay towards Yalanci Bogaz.
    2. By Airport Shuttle Bus  – this leaves from the Domestic Terminal; if you’ve come in to the International Terminal, exit the arrivals hall and turn left.  It’s about a 200m walk. Services are operated by Havas. Check the times on www.havas.net. The bus terminates at the main bus station, about 15 minutes walk from Netsel marina and it’s all downhill! Go out of the bus station and turn left – it’s obvious.
    3. By Public Bus – no public services run from the airport, so you’ll have to take a taxi to Dalaman bus station, on the north side of Dalaman town, about 5 miles from the airport. From there you can get bus direct to Marmaris though more usually you have to change at the junction where the Marmaris road leaves the main coastal highway. Expect the second vehicle to be a Dolmus, a local minibus service. Bus staff and fellow travellers are very helpful and will tell you where to change. From Marmaris bus station follow the directions above.

    The usual two alternatives are available – you can book a private transfer on line, or there are a couple of car hire companies at the airport.

    Finally, if you’re planning on grabbing refreshments at Dalaman be aware that it’s expensive, even by airport standards (though a little better now the Turkish Lira is on the slide). A coffee, a coke and two small buns set me back over £20 a couple of  years ago!

    From Rhodes to Marmaris

    There’s a ferry service between Rhodes and Marmaris, with two departures a day in high season, dropping to one a day in mid season. In low season it  doesn’t run every day so check first. The port in Marmaris is right next to Netsel Marina, though annoyingly, you have to walk out of the port past the marina to get in (unless the gate in the wall on your left has been left open)!

    You can book online at rhodes.marmarisinfo.com. The current fare (March 2014) is 40€. You can also buy your ticket at the port – I’ve not done the trip for a couple of years but this used to mean queuing at one window to pay the fare, then at another to pay the port tax. Journey time is about an hour with about another hour for faffing about with customs and tickets.

  • Mooring: Marmaris
    Marmaris: You may spot a submarine as you approach Marmaris

    Marmaris: You may spot a submarine as you approach Marmaris

    Marmaris is easy to find with the coastline funnelling you in towards the entrance to the large bay. If you’re coming from the west there are no real hazards. If heading in from the east keep clear of the submerged rock. This should be marked but it has been known for the can to drift off, though it’s often possible to determine it’s location by the cluster of fishing boats often hovering in the vicinity.

    Be aware too of the submarine base and pass outside of the island – although this technically still leaves you in the restricted zone you will not be troubled. I once had a very nervous few moments in this area as what turned out to be a submarine surfaced only about 100m from us.

    As you head through the gap into Marmaris bay, you will usually find the wind dies on you and you’ll probably need a bit of engine.

    Marmaris: Netsel marina entrance, the green roof of the Sports Hall right, the fuel quay centre left with large motor yacht alongside

    Marmaris: Netsel marina entrance, the green roof of the Sports Hall right, the fuel quay centre left with large motor yacht alongside

    There are several yacht moorings in Marmaris Bay, including Netsel Marina, Albatross Marina, and Marmaris Yacht Marina (known as Yacht Marin).  In days of old, it was also possible in low season to squeeze in to the old harbour next to Netsel, but this is now packed with gulets.

    Of the three marinas, only Netsel welcomes visiting charter yachts, and it’s proximity to town makes it the obvious choice for anyone wanting to explore the place. On entering Marmaris Bay, look to the right side of the town where you will see the bright green roof of the Sports Centre.  Aim for this and the marina will become visible immediately in front of the roof.

    If you are returning your charter yacht, head straight to your company’s quay.  If you are just passing through, you can call the marina on VHF channel 06 or 72 for a berth or just head on in and you will be guide to a spot by one of the staff.

    Marmaris: Netsel Marina, a popular charter base

    Marmaris: Netsel Marina, a popular charter base

    Mooring is stern to with mooring lines and due to the narrow nature of the fairways, I strongly suggest you reverse down between the pontoons. You will often be assisted by one of the marina staff pushing your bows with his dinghy which can be a bit of a surprise as they do tend to over do it, turned a nice controlled manoeuvre in to a slightly chaotic affair!

    The mooring lines are often encrusted with wildlife so it’s worth wearing a pair of gloves if you have some. The lines are very short so you may need to tie it off with the yacht a metre or more further from the quay than you want, then reverse against the mooring line to tighten it.

    Water and electricity are available on the pontoons. For fuel, go alongside the quay just left of the marina entrance. Beware of long queues for fuel on Friday afternoon when the many charter yachts return to their base. If you’re finishing your holiday, you may want to get in to the Bay early, fuel up then head out for your final afternoon

    Marmaris: Netsel Marina is a major yacht charter base with sailing boats of all sizes

    Marmaris: Netsel Marina is a major yacht charter base with sailing boats of all sizes

    The marina boasts a swimming pool as well as some of the best toilets and showers on the coast. There is a supermarket at the entrance to the marina. The town is between 5 and 15 minutes walk away, depending on which side of the marina you get berthed. There are restaurants inside the marina but many more along the front just outside.

    The only real drawback is the noise, particularly in high season, which emanates from the many clubs on bar street, just behind the front. Curfews are strictly enforced but are rather late for many people. Personally, it doesn’t bother me much but the only real way to avoid it is to anchor off and if you’re far enough away to avoid the noise, you will then have the issue of how to get in to town.

    There are numerous anchorages available around the bay. Those wanting to avoid the substantial mooring fees in Netsel can anchor just outside the marina in calm conditions. Those wishing to escape the noise will be better further away on the south or south east sides of the bay.

  • Orhaniye / Keci Buku
    Orhaniye: Yachts anchored south of Keci Buku island

    Orhaniye: Yachts anchored south of Keci Buku island

    This large bay has become a base for several charter companies, encouraged by the development of the marina. For marina-phobics there are several other restaurants with their own quays clustered at the end of the bay.

    The cost of using the marina has resulted in a number of the charter companies basing themselves at the restaurants so these quays can be busy on Friday and Saturday nights.

    If you’re starting your charter in Orhaniye, make sure you know where your company is based – it’s a long walk from the marina to the restaurants if you get dropped off at the wrong place.

    Despite the name, neither the marina or the restaurants are close to the village of Orhaniye itself so facilities are more limited than at many charter bases. However, provisions are available both at the marina and at the mini market near the restaurants. Showers are also available at both locations.

    There is an ATM in the Marina but for those departing from or stopping at the restaurant quays at the south end of the bay, there is also an ATM in the restaurant at the Palmiye Hotel.

  • Directions to Orhaniye

    From Dalaman Airport to Orhaniye

    Orhaniye is about 95 miles (150km) from Dalaman Airport. From the airport you’ve a couple of ways to reach Orhaniye:

    1. By taxi – the rank is right outside the arrivals hall. Fares are regulated, in theory, but you might want to agree the price before you set off, if only so the driver knows that you know! There’s a large board near the rank giving the standard fares, or you can check them on the airport website. The current fare (June 2014) is 220 TL, about £65. Note it seems to be considerably cheaper to pay in Turkish Lira than Pounds or Euros.
    2. By bus  – follow the directions to Marmaris. From Marmaris bus station, a Dolmus (minibus) service runs to Orhaniye.

    The usual two alternatives are available – you can book a private transfer on line, or there are a couple of car hire companies at the airport. Most yacht charter companies can also arrange transfers though unless you’re a large party, a taxi or private transfer booked online usually works out cheaper.

    Finally, if you’re planning on grabbing refreshments at Dalaman be aware that it’s expensive, even by airport standards (though a little better now the Turkish Lira is on the slide). A coffee, a coke and two small buns set me back over £20, and that was several years ago!

    From Bodrum Airport to Orhaniye

    Orhaniye is about 100 miles (160km) from Bodrum but though the distances are similar to arriving via Dalaman, it’s a longer and more expensive transfer. Your options are:

    1. By taxi – the rank is right outside the arrivals hall. Orhaniye is not on the regulated fares list so you’ll need to check the price with the driver but expect to pay around 250TL (about £70).
    2. By bus – service buses aren’t allowed in to the airport so you’ll need to get a cab to Milas about 10 miles (16km) away. From here buses go direct to Marmaris where you’ll need to change to a Dolmus (minibus) to Orhaniye.

    As usual, the other options is to pre-book a private transfer on line.