The stunning Lycian Coast in the south west of Turkey, is appropriately known as the Turquoise Coast. Part of the Turkish Riviera, nestled into a bay on the Aegean sea is the resort of Marmaris. While the resort itself can literally heave with visitors during the busy summer season, families can enjoy the beauty without the hustle and bustle by choosing accommodation in the quieter residential areas or a little further out of town.
When we stayed we found a beautiful hotel in the hills outside of the resort so that we could head in for the watersports and activities and retreat to the hotel swimming pool and quieter beaches when we wanted to. One of the best reasons I found for heading into town, however, was to board one of the pirate ships moored in the harbour for a sailing cruise up the coast.
Since my kids, and my partner like to keep active, it can be a hard sell to convince them all to try some sightseeing. So I was thrilled when I saw the brochure for a pirate-themed cruise because I knew everyone would love it (and I’d get to see a bit of Turkey). The pirate boat we chose was a massive 42-metre cruise ship decked out like a 18th-century pirate sailing ship, emblazoned with skull and crossbones. The whole thing bore more than a passing resemblance to the ships in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
The moment the kids saw it they were pumped with excitement and couldn’t wait to get aboard. We headed up to the top deck (the boat has an impressive five floors) so that we could sit in the sun and have a great view as we set sail down the coast.
A Day on the High Seas
As the brochure promised, we left Marmaris harbour and then sailed to Paradise Island, Aquarium Bay and the Phosphurus Cave before stopping for a swim and lunch at Bakla Bükü. I’m sure this is what we did but, thankfully, it didn’t feel at all like an itinerary, more like a leisurely sail along a truly stunning part of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, past beautiful mountain scenery and stunning pine forests before stopping off for a refreshing swim.
For the kids, and my partner, the swimming was definitely one of the highlights of the day. The boat has a platform at the back with steps down into the water (which is what I used), however, my children and their dad turned their noses up at such a sedate method, preferring instead to take the water slide off the deck straight into the water. I must admit it looked fun, but was relieved that the staff provided lifejackets as they shot off the slide at quite a speed!
After a buffet lunch we set sail again for the afternoon, arriving at Kizilkum for another great swim stop. This time we did a bit of snorkelling which was amazing. The fun doesn’t stop as you turn for home either. I couldn’t believe it when the staff (who are all dressed as pirates and really seem to enjoy their roles) announced it was time for the disco and foam party! But don’t worry, it didn’t descend into an Ayia Napa-style rave, the friendly, family crowd really got into the spirit and the kids (and their parents) had a whale of a time being covered head to toe in foam.
How to Get to Marmaris
The nearest airport to Marmaris is Dalaman to the east, a short hour and a half drive away. Dalaman Airport has a good range of flights (especially in the summer season) with airlines including easyJet and Thomas Cook offering direct flights. The flight time from the UK is around four and a half hours.
Dalaman can get extremely busy in the summer so I would suggest saving yourself stress at the airport by booking an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you leave home. If you book a private car, a driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals lounge when you land, ready to drive you and your family directly to your holiday accommodation.
Where to Stay
Blue Palace Apart Hotel – If you want to be in the centre of Marmaris but away from the crowds and nightlife the Blue Palace Apart Hotel is a good option set down a quiet residential street just a short walk from the beach with all its activities. The hotel has a range of family rooms some of which have kitchenettes. There’s a restaurant downstairs which serves breakfast and buffet dinners, and there is also a swimming pool and terrace. There is free wifi for the kids but only in the communal areas (handy if you want to limit the gaming/social media use in the rooms).
Mustis Family Apart – Another good self-catering option for families in the centre of town is the Mustis Family Apart. It has its own swimming pool and terrace with a restaurant/café offering al fresco dining. Watch out though, there is wifi here but there is a small charge for using it.
Excelsior Junior – The Excelsior Junior is a family-friendly apartment hotel just a bit further out so that it benefits from a quieter, calmer atmosphere than some of the more central accommodation. There’s a kid’s pool here with water slides and nearby playgrounds. The rooms have kitchens so that you can cook for yourself or head downstairs to the restaurant. There’s free wifi at the poolside and in the restaurant.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the leading provider of airport transfers across Europe with years of experience and local, English-speaking drivers. Choose from a range of transfer options including an economical, standard or premium car service, as well as minibus travel if you’re travelling in a larger group.