Forget the beach resort cliches of Southern Turkey. The best way to explore the stunning turquoise coast is by yacht with ScicSailing. 

 

Me, with my girl on a yacht? Yes!

Visions of myself on a posh yacht, sailing jewel toned waters, with afro and kaftan flying in the wind has always been compounded by the hefty price tag I was sure that such an experience would garner.

What I thought to be a far away dream, transformed into a reality when a close journalist colleague, Andrew Forbes, introduced me to ScicSailing (pronounced chic sailing). He’s been on three or four trips with ScicSailing himself, and couldn’t speak highly enough about the company.

Travelling while black in Southern Turkey

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Let’s be real…most of us would love more luxury experiences if their associated price tags were of no consequence. However, Omo and I constantly pay attention to the bottom line, whether it’s a hosted trip or not. It makes no sense to encourage our audience to consider booking a similar experience if it’s only aspirational due to it’s out of reach price tag.

So that’s how I found myself on a yacht sailing the Mediterranean and exploring the Southern coast of Turkey.

On this occasion, I had the privilege of sharing this experience with my close friend Nicola and we made a girls trip out of it.

 

Dreams of the Turkish Riviera

I arrived in Dalaman a day ahead of Nicola, which was one day before our yacht departed. ScicSailing arranged a transfer to my hotel in Göcek.

Once I settled into my hotel (which was more like a lovely guest house) I took one of the available bikes onsite for a spin into town.

Exploring Gocek with ScicSailing

The ride into Göcek was an easy twelve-minute commute. Situated in the Fethiye/Mugla province, Göcek’s geographical location is part of the Turkish Riviera.

Lined with high-end boutiques, luxury real estate offices, and picturesque cafes, I certainly believed it when someone likened Göcek to the St. Tropez of Turkey. It is not uncommon to spot the odd celebrity shielding their eyes behind sunglasses.

Göcek had a wonderful balance between wealth and homegrown hospitality. I did not feel the pretentiousness and overwhelming boastfulness of wealth that I’ve often experienced when visiting similarly affluent places like Monaco. I had several kind locals stop to make conversation and later offer generous invitations for home cooked meal and teas.

I was also surprised to find that the majority of boutiques and shops in Göceks marina stayed open past 10:30 pm at night. Restaurants, cafes, and shisha lounges along the marina buzzed with infectious energy.



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Meeting our Crew and Shipmates

The following afternoon I was picked up by a ScicSailing representative, who brought me to the marina to board our gulet yacht called the Nemesis. The 4-man crew was relaxed and welcoming. To my delight, Nicola was already onboard waiting for my arrival with a Gin & Tonic in hand; the perfect beginning to a great trip.

Sailing onboard the Nemesis is the best way to see Southern Turkey!

I set about meeting everyone and noticed that the range of occupations held by our shipmates was extremely varied. Our week would be spent with several travel journalists, a vineyard owner, social media/branding consultant, real estate lawyer, travel agent, and more.

 

Finding our sea legs

It took us approximately 12-24 hours to grasp the reality that for the next seven days we would be gallivanting the Aegean aboard a beautiful yacht.

I was caught between wanting to document every moment and lounging on one of many deck spaces and purring with delight like a satisfied cat. I choose the latter and tried to balance my eagerness to create content.

Black woman lounges onboard a gulet yacht in SW Turkey

Black woman lounges onboard a gulet yacht in SW Turkey

After indulging in a beautifully prepared dinner overlooking the Gocek Marina, we briefly hung out on the deck, and then headed off to bed.

Our first stop the next morning was Ölüdeniz, which had the crew preparing for an early cast-off. Upon arrival, the crew set the anchor in a bay outside of a well-known beach area. Some of us lounged on the deck with our novels, while other shipmates took kayaks out, went swimming/snorkelling, and two decided to climb up a large rock and jump into the sea.

After an hour or so, the captain called everyone in, and we set off for Gemiler Island; our second stop in our itinerary.

 

Ten Stops within Seven Days

Nicola and I spent the next seven days freestyle sailing.

By day three, we were firmly in the sailing mode. Our new reality was that we didn’t want the trip to end. Despite each day delivering us a new, picturesque port to explore, we also took solace in the habitual meal times set by the crew of the Nemesis. It was always exciting to see what Turkish specialties the chef would concoct.

Eating onboard the Nemesis in Southern Turkey

Eating onboard the Nemesis in Southern Turkey

Our gastronomic experiences were not limited to the yacht, however.

While in Kaş, we headed to a beautiful stone home nestled in the captivating village of Kapakli called The Poet’s House (Siir ev Kekova). Here, our host, Baris, enthusiastically described each colourful dish on the hand-crafted cedar table while we eagerly listened with rumbling bellies.

If there is such a thing as the nectar of the gods, I’m sure it would be Turkish olive oil; which our hosts applied generously at The Poet’s House. From luscious tomatoes bathed in herbs, to potatoes, peppers and roasted aubergines…every mezze seemed to be awash in this glorious oil.

Best breakfast in Southern Turkey?

Best breakfast in Southern Turkey?

Slowing down our desire to eat everything in sight were the most delightful carob biscuits; made from carob pods (used to produce carob flour) picked directly off their own trees.

These small, hard biscuits had a delicate chocolatey flavour. While breaking into our second biscuit, Baris told us that carob is believed to contain appetite suppressing properties. Now, why didn’t we begin our meal with these wonderful biscuits?

Once everyone had eaten their fill, we explored the property in more detail. The sun-drenched Poet’s Home, dripping with fuchsia bougainvillaea, stood like a beacon overlooking the island of Kekova.

I suddenly wished either of us had something poetic to share in that moment. Instead, we could only stand there feeling inexplicably intertwined with the generous hospitality of our hosts.

 

Observations on travelling while black

The Turkish Riviera is as beautiful as she is diverse. Each port we stopped in or sailed by had its own story to tell. From ancient Lycian walkways, exclusive dance clubs, Michelin starred restaurants, to sunken cities best viewed under the watchful eye of a local guide underwater; the Southwest coast has something to interest every visitor.

View of Kalkan from onboard the Nemesis yacht

One of our favourite stops was the port of Kalkan. I can’t help but describe it as an Instagrammer’s dream. It’s full of cute cafés, floral-filled corridors, and colourful steps to delight the child in every heart.

Most instagrammable town in Southern Turkey?

As we paused to take photos on one particular set of colourful steps in Kalkan, several local men suddenly stopped and asked us to either join in our photos or take photos of their own with us.

This phenomenon continued to happen throughout the town, and at several other ports during our trip. “Can I take your picture? I love black people!” A local Turkish man said as he eagerly photo-bombed one of our mini photo shoot attempts.

You might have thought Nicola and I were Beyonce and Solange with the number of times locals intercepted our photos.

Growing up in North America during the 1980s and 90s, I constantly struggled with the West’s narrow view of beauty standards. I may be happily married, but I love visiting places where being a woman of colour is not only celebrated but seen as desirable. I’m here for it, 100%!

As I’ve travelled over the last two decades, I’ve noticed a shift in the perception of (and interactions with) women of colour.

There is a difference between being looked at as an object of desire, and simply being appreciated and celebrated. During our time there, the Southwest coast of Turkey certainly delivered the later.

 

Living Our Best Lives

Our week aboard the Nemesis provided for a host of endearing and hilarious moments. As I had to depart one day ahead of my shipmates to head to my next destination, our last night together was spent dancing under the stars, as I led them in an impromptu Salsa lesson.

One of the crew members set up an impressively sized speaker, and post-class we let the music rip out into the night. I’m sure the typically smooth waters of the bay we were anchored in (near Fethiye) must have experienced ripples from the loud bass.

Sun setting in Southern Turkey

After a long night of dancing and drinking, several people slept on the deck lounge areas, too utterly spent to head down into their cabins.

We noticed that several of our shipmates began their days by taking a dip into each bay we were anchored at. It was not uncommon to be woken up by the sound of a few gentle splashes. However, on the morning of my departure, Nicola and I laughed about how no splashing was to be heard. It was utterly quiet.

View of Fethiye from onboard the Nemesis yacht

After sharing a few bites of breakfast and saying my goodbyes, Nicola and I reflected on the experience of the past seven days as the Nemesis motored into my final port of call. We both agreed that we needed to do a girl’s trip like this again, and soon.

Disclaimer: We were guests of SCIC Sailing, for the purposes of reviewing their seven-night Southwest Turkey gulet cruise. Although, all photos and thoughts are my own. Prices start at €951 per person, based on double or single accommodation. Alternatively, the entire yacht can be booked for private groups. Enquire directly for pricing. Sailing season runs from April to October; departing from Göcek, Bodrum or Marmaris.

 

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