Turkey and the Dodecanese

Category: Mediterranean East,

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Strung out along the coast of western Turkey like jewels upon an impossibly aquamarine sea, the Dodecanese are entrancing; attracting yachtsmen – many of whom return year after year to sample some of the most culturally and geographically diverse islands in the Aegean. The mix of similarity and contrasts with Turkey's rugged and sparsely populated coast makes for a fascinating cruise.

These 18 Dodecanese islands are quite unique; under Italian rule until 1947, they maintain an air of separateness from the rest of Greece and as a result still attract large numbers of curious Italian visitors. The islands are an intriguing mix of sea, mountain and meadow and, because they are all close to one another, can easily be ‘hopped’ by yacht. 

The developed resorts of Rhodes and Kos have beaches and bars galore, while Lipsi and Tilos have seductive beaches, minus the crowds. Everyone gapes at the extraordinary volcanic landscape that geological turbulence has created on Nissyros whilst Symi is reputed to be the most beautiful of all the Dodecanese. The islands’ chequered histories have endowed them with a wealth of archaeological remains charting the many influences of the cultures that have shaped this end of the Mediterranean. Our voyage from Bodrum visits a selection of islands that will give a flavour of this fascinating example of Hellenic diversity. 

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Day 1

Guests join the yacht in the mid afternoon for a short sail across to the Greek island of Kos. The yacht moors in Kos town marina and a chance to go ashore and enjoy some Greek hospitality and the buzzing nightlife. Night alongside.

Day 2

Sail from Kos via Pserimos for Kalymnos. Stop for lunch and a swim in Pserimos then a short sail to the town of Kalymnos  to overnight alongside. Known as the Sponge Divers island, The Kalymnians harvested sponges from the sea-bed as close as Pserimos or as far as North Africa. Much has been written, sung and filmed about this ancient and dangerous occupation and much more concerning the legendary courage and recklessness of the sponge divers themselves. 

Day 3

Sailing after breakfast, we skirt the southern coast of the busy island of Kos and head across to Nissyros, stopping en route at the tiny island of Gyali. Starkly volcanic and only 6km long it boasts a population of just 10. After lunch and a swim at the beautiful beach of Aghios Antonios we head for Mandraki to anchor in this pretty port with its charming main square, bustling tavernas and bars. 

Day 4

After breakfast, we sail south east for charming little Tilos. Noted for its nineteen beaches, twelve mountains, seven medieval castles, a Byzantine monastery and two hundred churches, it has a a cave full of natural discoveries, a village that is a declared cultural monument, a hundred bird species, hundreds of wild flowers and herbs, and only five hundred residents. A visit to the 15th century Monastery of Saint Panteleimon is a must. We anchor overnight in Livadia where small tavernas and homely Greek restaurants serving the most delicious dishes are dotted all along the curve of the bay.  

Day 5

 Sailing from Livadia, the yacht heads north east for Symi, reputed to be the most beautiful of the Dodecanese islands. If we have time we divert to Toli a peaceful bay on Symi island only accessible by track so hardly visited with a wonderful taverna right on the beach. In Symi town, a visit to the fabulous Panormitis Monastry  (the Monastry of Miracles) should not be missed. We overnight in the port.

Day 6 

The yacht leaves Greek waters from Symi then heads north and west for Datça and customs clearance into Turkey. Datça is off the beaten tourist trail and a fine example of a typical Turkish seaside town. A regular Friday market is an opportunity to buy very typical local souvenirs and there is a wonderful carpet ship up the hill by the port run by the charismatic Stella - a must for aficionados of Turkish rugs. Afternoon sail across the gulf of Gokova to Knidos and overnight in its ancient man-made harbour.

Day 7

Awaking in Knidos, we can explore the ruins of this once prosperous trading outpost that, over the years has been Greek, Persian, Athenian, Spartan and Roman. Dating back to 330BC it was a bustling post for hundreds of years; a trading post and a harbour for both commercial and warships.  An early morning visit will ensure that the special atmosphere of the place can be enjoyed in solitude before sailing along the coast for swimming.  In the afternoon the yacht heads north to Bodrum for the final night and a chance to enjoy the busy little port with its many bars and tavernas. We dine ashore in one of the waterfront restaurants before enjoying the relaxed Bodrum nightlife

Day 8

Departure from the yacht at around 10.00 with transport to Bodrum airport a few kilometres outside the town.  

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