Tour The Turkish Riviera Aboard A Private Yacht

Deck Boats

The Republic of Turkey is welcoming back tourists, so it is not too early to start planning a trip to the country that straddles Western Asia and Southeast Europe. Turkey offers something for everyone, from adventure and world-class cuisine to its incredible history and of course, stunning beauty. The destination is expected to grow in popularity as international travel rebounds in 2022.

One of the world’s earliest permanently settled regions, Turkey offers abundant natural and archaeological points of interest, including two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. There’s nothing better than traveling along the Turkish Coast, which is often referred to as the Turkish Riviera. Located in southwest Turkey, it offers more than a thousand kilometers of shoreline along the Aegean and Mediterranean waters. 

Chartering A Private Yacht

One of the best ways to explore the Turkish coast is by private yacht charter. Often referred to as a “gulet”, these hand-crafted wooden yachts are custom made and can sail from port to port in the Aegean Sea.

One of the best-known charter yacht companies in Turkey is Zephyria Yachting. Zephyria Yachting, which offers seven day itineraries.  Its fleet of 13 yachts is divided into three categories: luxury, deluxe and classic, defined by both the size of the yacht and the on-board features and facilities. Zephyria’s yachts are equipped with an experienced staff that includes a captain, private chef and crew. Zephyria’s yachts can accommodate both small groups and large families, from four to 16 guests, depending on the vessel selected.

Zephyria works with its clients to develop highly customized itineraries that will take them to such exotic Turkish Riveria destinations such as Knidos, Seven Islands, Kufre, Tuzla, Longoz, Cleopatra’s Island, Orak Island and Cokertme-Kissebuku, just to name a few. Onboard its yachts, the guest experience is highly personalized, as the crew will arrange shopping excursions, land tours, water sports and other activities. The dining experience features in-season, fresh produce, seafood and meat, all of which are locally sourced.

Kevin Dunleavy recently experienced a private yachting experience on the Turkish Riviera with Zephyria Yachting in August of 2021. “We wanted to charter a boat instead of renting one,” recalls Dunleavy, who resides in Key West, Florida. After careful research including referring to yacht travel website, Dunleavy, who was planning the trip for a group that included himself, his wife and a small group of friends, considered several different charter operators in the Mediterranean. “I educated myself on the different kinds and levels of catamarans, as well as the pluses and minuses between the Saronic and Ionian and Aegean.”

Dunleavy referred to which recommended his group consider traveling by private gulet charter out of Turkey. “I knew nothing of gulets or of Turkey, so once again I educated myself and began digging into all the possibilities,” Dunleavy recalls. “ gave me a list of recommended charter operators, cautioning me against dealing with any of the plentiful bulk brokers that I came across. This advice proved to be invaluable to us.”

Dunleavy considered three different charter operators regarding a Blue Cruise out of Bodrum. He settled on family-run and operated Zephyria Yachting, a company with more than 45 years of experience. Based in Bodrum, Turkey, Zephyria was came highly recommended by several different sources. “We eventually got it narrowed down to two or three boats, priced in roughly the same range,” he says. “All were luxury class, and all equally stunning in their own ways.” Zephyria, he says, was selected because of the company’s exceptionally professional service during the planning process.

Dunleavy booked The Zephyria II, a luxurious gullet with six guest cabins, that was approximately 115 feet long and 30 feet wide. “She was more than enough boat for the 10 of us,” he says. “It’s very comfortable throughout, with an aft seating area for meals and a smaller area up front that’s perfect for cocktails or just enjoying the view.”

The Zephyria II’s crew consisted of a Captain, a chef, an engineer, and two deckhands/stews. “We had all watched enough episodes of ‘Below Deck’ that we probably had some unrealistic expectations regarding service,” he recalls. “Even with those expectations, the chef totally knocked it out of the park. Because of our different food preferences, our meals were served family style which worked out perfectly. In addition, since I had informed them that I was going to present my wife with a five year anniversary band on our first night, they cooked us a special lobster dinner and brought out a cake for her. That was a very nice touch which set the tone for the week, letting us know we were in good hands.”

Breakfast featured several varieties of cheeses, yogurt, fresh fruit as well as eggs to order. Lunch and dinner were different each day “and always more food than we could handle,” recalls Dunleavy, adding that dinner is when the chef really shined. “We had all expressed a preference for seafood, so each night there was some form of fish/shrimp/lobster and since most of us also enjoy meat so there was always a meat dish as well. In the end, they took our preference sheets to heart and made sure we were all satisfied.”

The Zephyria II’s itinerary took the Dunleavy group on a ‘Blue Cruise’ along the erratic Turkish coastline. “It had the appearance of being among several islands even though it’s the mainland, so the scenery is always stunning and varied,” Dunleavy recalls. The group enjoyed several shore excursion opportunities along the way.

The itinerary took the group to the Datca Peninsula and into the Gulf of Hisaronu. “One of our favorite stops was on our first full day, at the ancient city of Knidos,” says Dunleavy. “We explored the ruins for an hour or so and enjoyed the views of Kos and Nsiros from the hilltop. Domuzbükü was a nice empty beach where we could hike inland a bit. Hurmali Bük was another favorite, an oasis of a beach including a stand of palm trees. We felt like we’d entered another country. We anchored there for the night, and in the morning we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise and some wild goats. Selimiye was the favorite village we visited.”

A Wide Variety of Activities

Traveling by yacht offers a wide variety of activities for passengers. Dunleavy’s group enjoyed a variety of activities from hiking on deserted beaches to strolls through fishing villages. “The Captain found us plenty of opportunities during our week,” says Dunkleavy. Swimming and snorkeling were daily activities, usually at multiple locations. “We also enjoyed the paddleboard and kayaks,” he adds. “And as the Agean water is very deep and clear even close to the shore where we’d anchor, we enjoyed jumping off the stern.” Those in the group who weren’t…

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