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Petite wonders: Ideal destinations for small superyachts

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Bodrum-Fortress-Turkey
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Datça peninsula

Turkey

Within a RIB ride of Symi and Kos, a million miles from Istanbul

The Aegean is split from the Mediterranean by the Datça peninsula, a 100-kilometre-long forested finger. The promontory rises into 1,000-metre mountains passable only by mule track. This ridge cleaves the coast into sandy northern sections accessible from Bodrum, which are buffeted by afternoon meltemi winds. Indented southern shores, greener and more secluded, are accessible from the pleasure ports of Marmaris and Göcek.

Such tricky topography has served to keep Datça tourist free. A tarmac road only reached the Roman ruins of Knidos at the peninsula’s western tip in the 1990s, where smaller yachts under 20 metres can tie up in front of a well-preserved amphitheatre. Cihan Atik, manager of Bodrum’s Pruva gulet shipyard, can namecheck a dozen boat-only bays on the peninsula. “Domuzbükü has a beautiful turquoise bay and can only be reached by sea,” says Atik. “There is no road for vehicles, only trees, as with so many beaches, like Dirsek Bükü and Bencik.” Atik, who built the Turkish gulet Regina used in Bond movie Skyfall, recommends sailing a smaller yacht that can tuck right into the myriad tiny bays. And with no marinas of note on the entire peninsula, if you want a vodka martini you’d better shake your own. “Gulets are especially useful in Datça – they once used their shallow draughts to navigate around the small Aegean islands. Most are made completely of wood, so you can hear the sea’s voice.”

Better still, “each Datça peninsula port has a different food culture”. Selimiye is a former fishing village where wooden chuggers still unload red shrimp and wild bass, which can be bartered over before you dine in seafront restaurants. A short sail north in Orhaniye, a submerged beach allows guests to walk on water – although it would take a minor miracle to squeeze a yacht longer than 30 metres into the bay. The peninsula’s biggest secret is Ingiliz Limanı, or English bay, where Special Boat Service saboteurs hid before making raids on occupied Greece during the Second World War. Such proximity to Europe – Istanbul is a 12-hour drive away – may help explain why Datça is Turkey’s most liberal enclave. Locals routinely marinade their octopus in raki and preserved lemons before pairing it with a home-grown red wine.

High-end gulets and smaller European yachts use the Datça peninsula as a base for day hops around the Greek islands of Tilos, Symi, Rhodes and Kos. To do so, Atik recommends the sleepy customs desks of Datça town, which has a beguiling old quarter, and Bozburun, a boho-chic bay where gulets have been built since time immemorial. The only hip boating destination is D Maris Bay, midway down the peninsula. Here yachties can eat Japanese izakaya cuisine at a barefoot branch of Zuma.

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