where Im going

Into the Blue – Boat tour of Dilek Millipark near Kusadasi

Dilek Millipark nr Kusadasi, Turkey

Our Captain is wearing a polo shirt with Cancun, Yucatan embroidered on the chest. “I used to live there” I tell him, “on the island across the bay, Isla Mujeres.”

“I used to work there” he says showing me the logo on his sleeve, “For Club Med, I was a windsurfing instructor; it’s where I met my wife.”

Small world. And it explains a lot. It explains how Caroline, a charming young American woman and Mustafa, her Turkish husband got together and how they ended up in Guzelcamli, the small seaside resort with a village vibe on the edge of the Dilek Millipark near Kusadasi. Here they run the Agora restaurant in the centre of the village and last winter they bought Dostluk, the newest addition to the small group of tour boats heading out from Guzelcamli’s harbour to cruise the wonderfully clear waters of the Millipark.

Where we're going - into the blue

The Club Med background is obvious in how they manage their boat tours. Mustafa has that laid back, easy confidence that comes not only from being experienced in international customer care but trained in the safety and attention to detail that Club Med instils in all its instructors. His boat is small but full of character and his competence in handling her in the Aegean waters speaks of years of familiarity with the sea and giving clients that little bit extra. He takes Dostluk into the tiny bays the bigger boats can’t reach and he and Caroline, still in love with the peace and natural beauty of the Millipark, aim to keep their tours quiet and intimate and tailored to a clientele that mainly marvels at the scenery and the water rather than seeks to party non stop. There are other boats for the party crowds.

Dostluk, moored in a sheltered bay at the Millipark

The Millipark remains one of my favourite places in all Turkey and this summer, when the heat has been truly punishing, we have been spending every free day either in the park itself or cruising the shore of it with Caroline and Mustafa on Dostluk.

Until this year I had shied away from the organised boat tours because I was worried that they were more booze cruise than enjoyment of the natural world and I’m not good with crowds and pumping techno beat music drives Nick to murder so we were giving them a wide berth. Maybe the ones that run out of the main resorts and Kusadasi are like that but here, in Guzelcamli, the boats are mainly smaller and family run and they respect the waters they sail in and discovering this has been the highlight of my summer.

Snorkelling in a sheltered bay

The boat tours are also the most extraordinary value. For between 30-35tl per person you get a whole day on the sea, stopping at three to five different swimming and snorkelling spots and all with lunch included. You get to see parts of the Millipark that you can’t reach from the land as a good half of the peninsula is forbidden zone and land exploration is prohibited and guarded by the Jendarma so a boat tour is the only real way to see the whole thing and appreciate the scale of the place.

Where we've been - Dilek Millipark Boat Tour

I’ve been going to the Millipark for seven years and it is only from the sea that I appreciate just how big the place is, how high the peaks, how steep the gorges and how wild it is – looking at it from the sea you see that the visitors only creep at the edges, nibbling at the fringes, and the sharp, forested ridges of the interior are totally empty of man. God knows what is in there; the wild boar that are too proud to beg bread from the beach restaurants root and grunt in the high forests, maybe even the (possibly extinct) Anatolian Leopard still slinks through the pines, totally unseen. It’s that kind of place, it makes you realise you are small and you don’t know everything.

Of course it is the crystal clear waters that we all come for, that and the blessed sea breezes (you have no idea how welcome they have been this summer, most of the time we feel like we’re melting). The waters of the Millipark don’t disappoint, they have fish in bright blue clouds and tumbled underwater rock formations that hint at hidden treasures and their salty clarity and shades of colour are endlessly enchanting.

Exploring the waters of the Millipark

Close to shore, in sheltered coves, when you swim you feel the sudden chill of cold water as fresh water springs exit below sea level and mix with the sea water in viscous, swirling patterns. It’s lovely, truly lovely, and the sudden pockets of cold water are wonderfully refreshing.

All in all I have to recommend this as a must do excursion if you are in the area. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t relax, not really, not properly, I may fake it well but generally I’m so highly strung I vibrate, but when I take this trip I relax, for seven hours I switch off and it’s just me and the sea and the endlessly unrolling landscape of blue and green in front of me. It’s the closest I come to peace.

Caroline and Mustafa - Owners of Dostluk

If you want to book with Caroline and Mustafa on Dostluk they are running daily tours from May through into October and out of season they are open to private tours and fishing trips if you have enough people. You can reach them on +90 (0)532 203 53 82 or through Dostluk Boat Tour Facebook page at Dostluk Facebook

Six years after the renovations - my house in Kirazli

If you are interested in owning an income generating property in a village in Turkey please see our house for sale at Kirazli Village House for sale

This rare stone villa is an established and lovingly maintained home having been lived in year round for seven years. Whilst suited to a multitude of uses including home with art gallery, day spa or yoga studio attached the house currently generates exceptional income over a 10 month season purely by renting out the studio wing to independent travellers exploring the region.