Gulet cruising map & highlights

When you embark on a gulet cruise, you can discover ancient sunken cities, coral reefs where turtles and stingrays glide, the island of an Egyptian queen and bubbling volcanoes. Or, you can simply soak up some sun on the deck, taking a refreshing dip in turquoise waters whenever you feel like it, and wait for the next ravishing meal of fresh seafood to be served up by your professional crew. The waters off the Turkish coastline, particularly those around Bodrum on the Gulf of Gökova and Marmaris, are thronged with gulets during the summer, this form of travel having originated here. You can also cruise by gulet around the sunsplashed Dodecanese Islands in the Greek Aegean, and there’s no more stylish way to observe wildlife in the Maldives than aboard one of these handsome wooden schooners.

1. Bodrum

Once a tranquil fishing community, Bodrum has evolved since the mid-20th century to become one of Turkey’s most popular and elegant coastal resorts. Situated on a peninsula that stretches into the Aegean, it’s a reliable launch pad for gulet cruises trips, but also a city that deserves a few days of exploration beforehand, with its charming whitewashed houses and ancient ruins.
Dodecanese Islands

2. Dodecanese Islands

Bearing traces of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman civilisations, the Dodecanese in the southeastern Aegean are drenched with sunshine and ancient legend in equal measure. Rhodes and Kos are the best-known, but there are dozens of smaller islands to explore such as Telendos, Patmos, Kalymnos and Leros. The pleasures of island-hopping in Greece are undisputed, but a gulet adds an entirely new dimension.
Gulf of Gökova

3. Gulf of Gökova

The Gulf of Gökova, its main settlement being the port city of Bodrum, is a popular anchorage location. During the spring and autumn, when we recommend taking a cruise, its picturesque bays and divinely blue waters are not as crowded. The best known site is Sedir, also known as Cleopatra Island. It’s said the Egyptian monarch had the perfectly spherical sand shipped from the Red Sea, and it’s forbidden to remove even a few grains.
Lycian Coast

4. Lycian Coast

Turkey’s exquisite Turquoise Coast is a dream to meander by gulet. You can cruise around the Lycian Islands, or make daytrips onto the mainland to visit handsome resorts such as Fethiye and Marmaris. The mythical winged horse Pegasus is said to have lived in the hilltop citadel of Tlos, and off the island of Kekova the waters are so clear you can make out the remains of a town destroyed by an earthquake in the 2nd century.

5. Maldives

Why confine yourself to a Maldives resort when you can roam the Indian Ocean on a liveaboard, crewed gulet? These islands and atolls are spectacularly beautiful of course, but below the surface a stunning variety of marine life: whale sharks, turtles, stingrays and shoal after shoal of tropical fish abound on the coral reefs. Gulets come fully equipped with snorkel gear and there is even the option of scuba diving with a PADI professional.
Sicily & the Aeolian Islands

6. Sicily & the Aeolian Islands

Off the coast of northern Sicily, the UNESCO-protected Aeolian Islands are named for Aelous, demigod of the winds, so it’s no surprise they make an excellent destination for gulet cruising. Studding the translucent blue waters are islands such as Vulcano, Lipari and Stromboli, which has been continuously erupting for 2,000 years – the lava and smoke it emits make for an incredibly dramatic backdrop.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Gulet cruises or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Gulet cruises holiday advice

Powell Ettinger from our supplier the Small Cruise Ship Collection describes life aboard a gulet:

Floating hotels

“Gulets are small, intimate vessels, traditionally built and beautiful looking that are very flexible as to where they can go. They can moor in large harbours, tiny fishing ports, or quiet and hidden coves that the captains know. They are sometimes described as tiny floating boutique hotels, and are fantastic for passengers who like variety: walks ashore, swimming, small restaurants in tiny ports, barbeques, leaping into the sea from the deck, snorkelling or just relaxing on board.”

Fab for families

“The vessels usually only cruise for three to five hours per day, providing time for relaxing, sunbathing, afternoon naps, book reading or board games, and often the crew are happy to have a little help from clients, especially younger ones. These cruises are excellent for family groups. There is plenty of scope for swimming, exploring ashore and using the vessels ‘toys’, which can include kayaks, wake boards and snorkel gear.”
One of our travellers, David O’Leary shares his impressions of his Maldives wildlife cruise aboard a gulet, below. Read his full interview here.

Sleeping arrangements

“I thought the boat was beautiful to look at; it’s just a gorgeous thing. The cabins were basic, but what more do you need? We had our own shower and toilet, but we were hardly ever in our cabin, just for sleeping. We were out on deck all the time, lying out on shady couches or in the sun. It didn’t feel crowded at all, with space for everyone to hang out and do their own thing. Sometimes you would go up to the front, or lie in the sun at the back. We planned to sleep outside, but we never did in the end. It might have got a bit misty or damp, because sometimes when we came out in the early morning there was a fine film of water. Of course we could have slept under the covered area at the back and that wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Meals onboard

“The food was great. Mostly fish and lots of tuna, some of which they caught off the boat. We don’t eat meat, but there was chicken and other meat for people who did. You may have been a little bit more caught if you were vegetarian, but there were options, and always plenty of salads. We thought the food was fantastic. We ate outside on a covered deck at the back of the boat.”

Luxurious isolation

“A lot of the diving and snorkelling trips are daytrips from resorts and they all tend to go to the same spots. However, because we were out on the water for a week, we were able to go further away, which meant we out in very peaceful spots most of the time.”

A few tips from our holiday reviews

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Sulawesi travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
The cabins are very hot in the summer and so be prepared to sleep on deck with everybody else
– Sarah Nicholas
“Bring sea sickness pills, ear plugs, portable batteries for charging devices and plenty of sunscreen.” – Victoria Swale shares tips in a review of her family cruising holiday in Turkey

“We all enjoyed traveling on the gulet and being with the other families. We had fun snorkelling each day. The cabins are very hot in the summer and so be prepared to sleep on deck with everybody else. A very relaxing and enjoyable holiday with some cultural visits. A very knowledgeable guide. Great fun for teenagers too.” – Sarah Nicholas in a review of her family sailing holiday in Turkey
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Joselu Blanco] [Bodrum: John Hickey-Fry] [Dodecanese Islands: Martin Thomas] [Gulf of Gokova: Akyaka] [Lycian Way: Warren Talbot] [Maldives: Walter Scharer] [Sicily and Aeolian Islands: Ramon Cutunda Lopez] [Floating hotels: Joselu Blanco] [Tip: Peter Cooke]