Now is the time to visit Turkey's water sports destinations
- LEYLA YVONNE ERGIL, ISTANBUL
- Sep 11, 2018
With coasts lining four different seas, it should come as no surprise that Turkey is a haven for water sports and its enthusiasts. Whether it be sailing, wind or kitesurfing, scuba diving or kayaking, there are areas in Turkey devoted to these sports that those who are in the know and passionate about being on the water, come to enjoy in this spectacular country.
Coming from a sea lover and wind chaser, this month is also the best time of the year to enjoy these destinations devoted to specific water sports as the crowds and the heat has subsided and some of the best competitions are still to take place.
The following is a guide of where to go for water sports in Turkey:
Not only is Alaçatı one of the most chic and popular holiday destinations in Turkey, but it is also the country's windsurfing capital and its discovery as such by some German surfers a few decades ago is what led to its sudden boom to become a boutique hotel, dining and shopping haven, even though the beach where the actual windsurfing takes place actually lies a few kilometers away. It is on this beach, an inlet with schools on both sides where windsurf gained popularity and the area became infiltrated with people wanting to learn the sport as the paparazzi enjoyed catching the rich and famous in action.
Nonetheless, this stretch still remains Turkey's most popular spot for learning the sport as well as in holding Turkey's championship competitions such as for the Slalom League, which will take place from Sept. 20 to 23. Thus, making this a great time to watch the country's best windsurfers in action or to take lessons yourself.
A lesser known windsurfing paradise in Turkey is Gökçeada, also known as Imbros, located off Çanakkale Eceabat. The winds here are stronger and the conditions are even better as many keen European windsurfers have discovered. The windsurfing takes place off of Eşelek Koyu and equipped with shallow waters, it is a conducive place to learn from surf schools on the beach with some also serving as hotels.
Akyaka, located in the Gulf of Gökova between Bodrum and Marmaris, is a pleasant and laid back village that has become extremely popular in recent years as Turkey's paradise for kiteboarding. Set along the Azmak River, Akyaka is surprisingly lush with impressive architecture of timbered Ottoman homes. The area where kitesurfing is concentrated is at the end of the beach and aptly referred to as the "Kite Zone." Just last week it was the site of the World Kiteboarding Championship. There are a number of schools and it is certainly hands down the capital of windsurfing in Turkey as well as one of the coolest holiday destinations of late.
While Turkey's Turquoise Coast is a treasure trove of historical wrecks, ancient relics, reefs and caverns for scuba divers to explore, Kaş is the most popular spot for learning the sport and is also a beloved summer holiday town to visit. Perhaps one of the most popular dives in the country is to discover a Dakota cargo plane, which was sunk for scuba divers almost a decade ago. While you might not see as much marine life as in tropical seas, you may just get to swim with Caretta caretta turtles (Loggerhead turtles). There are also a number of beginner dive options with reefs and sunken wooden ships making it a great place to get started. Another reason Turkey's Turquoise Coast is a top destination for scuba diving in the Mediterranean is that the diving trips take place about Turkey's famed "Gulet" boats. These wooden double and triple-masted sailboats are ideal for touring due to their comfort and spaciousness, which makes the experience especially enjoyable.
Kayaking over the sunken ruins of Simena in Kekova Island, located across from Kaleköy, which is between Kaş and Demre, is truly a once in a lifetime experience for sea kayak lovers. Dating back over 2,000 years, this city, which was drawn six meters underwater due to earthquakes, is a protected area with diving and even swimming prohibited and thus kayaking is the optimal way to witness the ancient ruins underwater. To embark on such a tour, Kaş is the best place to make your base.
White Water Rafting
Köprüçay River and Köprülü Canyon National Park in Manavgat is a popular spot for rafting in Turkey. Trips take off from Antalya to this 14 kilometer canyon marked with two Roman bridges. Keep in mind, rafting can be dangerous and is not for the lighthearted, however if you pick a reputable company and read up on reviews you will be more prepared to take on these Class II rapids and have a wonderfully exhilarating time.
While the entire Turquoise Coast offers spectacular destinations for sailors, Bodrum is undoubtedly the country's capital when it comes to sailing. Not only are most of the famed Gulet boats actually made here but many Blue Cruise tours, start or end up in Bodrum. Keep in mind that October is a special time for sailors and boat lovers in Turkey because of the Bodrum Cup. Taking place between Oct. 22 to 27, this annual yacht regatta draws out sailing enthusiasts from all over the world, who sail to the Greek island of Leros and the Datça peninsula. The great part of this cup is that for the more novice or aspiring sailor you can actually book a shared or single cabin on one of the race boats or observing boats and take part in the experience without being the one actually physically sailing.