Sea Kayaking in Turkey : A Personal Challenge to Conquer

 “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing- absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats” Quote by The Water Rat from Wind In the Willows

Typically, my idea of messing around on boats has always been a relaxing pleasure cruise along the coastline. However, when I was faced with the opportunity to do something quite extraordinary and out of habit, I decided to sign up for sea kayaking with Bougainville Travel, who operate day and week-long sea kayaking tours in Turkey.

I was spending time with them looking behind the scenes at their adventure activities and fancied having a go at gliding effortlessly on water. Sea kayaking generally does not appear on mainstream lists of things to do while in Turkey.  The day was going to be a great introduction to something new. Something I had never thought about doing.

I soon learned though, that my pre-conceived ideas about sea kayaking were very wrong indeed.

“Although kayaking tends to draw a younger demographic, it is still a lifelong sport that anyone can get into. It’s a sport anyone can enjoy, because it’s not about strength, it’s about technique”. – quote by Katherine Carr

Sea Kayak instructor

Our Instructor

I should have read the above quote before signing up for the tour. While I did listen to the safety talk and instructions given out by our guide, I distinctly remember paying more attention to the overwhelming urge to jump in the kayak and head off.

The result of my mistake was that when I did get in the kayak,  for the first half hour I was paddling either in circles or in completely the opposite direction to the rest of the group!

Once I had managed to turn myself in the right direction, we headed out of the harbor at Ucagiz. Our first destination was Kekova sunken city, lying off a small island separated from the mainland hundreds of years ago during an earthquake.

Sea Kayaking in Turkey

The Bay of Kekova

Gaining Control of the Kayak

I tried my best, paddling hard and furious, but always lagging behind the rest of the group. A long distance from me, a speedboat raced past. The distance did nothing to calm the ripples in the water that came my way but I had paid no attention to the possibility that my kayak could turn over as I was still focusing my attention on trying to control it.

By the time we had reached Kekova sunken city, I had to admit that sadly this was one thing in life that I was not going to master with very little effort or concentration.   I tied up my sea kayak to the back of the safety boat that was following us along the course and joined the jolly captain on board who tried with great comical descriptions to tell me what I was doing wrong.

Kayaking in Turkey

Following the safety boat

It was too late though and the feeling of failure had taken over.

I viewed the historical Kekova sunken city from a boat when others had the pleasure of sea kayaking over it.

Kekova sunken city

The Sunken City of Kekova

From Kekova, the next destination was the beautiful bay of Simena, an ancient Lycian village only accessible by boat.

Simena Turkey

Heading to Simena

A refreshment break revealed that others were beginning to flag but they were determined to stay the course.

Simena Sea kayaking

Leaving Simena

The instructor, as expected was taking it all in his stride. After all, he completed the sea kayaking tour every day of the week throughout the summer. Sea kayaking is one of most popular tours of Bougainville Travel and it irked me that others were achieving something that I had failed at.

Sea Kayaking

Taking it all in their stride!

The group consisted of experienced and first time kayakers who had mastered the art of sea kayaking. I was not to join in with their success and jubilation though, as on that day a personal challenge presented itself to me.

You see, I have always had great luck in life in that anything I do, I normally succeed the first time. I often find that I am in the right place at the right time and my mother still says to this day that “I could fall in s*** and still come up smelling of roses”.

I find it hard to remember things in life that I have failed at however, I had to realize that sea kayaking was going to be something that I will have to work at. It is not going to come to me naturally and has instead left me frustrated and with disbelief, that life dared to throw something at me that I could not do.

Sea kayaking from Ucagiz

Heading back to Ucagiz

Mastering the Sport of Sea Kayaking

An overwhelming urge to sign up again, is with me every day. I think that instead of a group tour, one to one lessons with an instructor, even in a swimming pool would be a good starting point. The lessons would improve my techniques and co-ordination and eventually I will head back to Kas and complete that sea kayaking tour with ease and victory.

 I am not ready to accept defeat.  Mastering the sport of sea kayaking has grabbed my attention and it has no inclination to let go. Sure, I will need to put in that extra effort but surely the results will be more pleasurable and greater.

“Sea kayaking is about journeying. Sea kayaking is about exploring. Sea kayaking is about sharing experiences and memories with others. There is more to sea kayaking than just paddling.” Quote by Pete Dingle

Sea kayaker

If you want to experience sea kayaking in Turkey, Bougainville Travel  operate tailor made and organised sea kayaking tours on the south west coast. Many thanks to them for introducing me to  various adventure activities in Kas and the surrounding regions.

  ( Bougainville website  –

Readers Question : Have you been sea kayaking in Turkey or anywhere else in the world?

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    I would be on the boat from the start hubby took me out on a kayak at Gumusluk one year I was so scared being out in the deep water I had a panic attack and made him take me back before Rabbit Island. It was so out of character for me and I didn’t expect the reaction I had. But I would love to give it ago again some day. The photos are amazing, certainly an area I would like to visit. Kerry
    Kerry Arslan wrote about..Turkish Weddings Traditions | Arranged Marriages in Turkey

    • says

      Sea kayaking in Gumusluk sounds like great fun Kerry. I would need to master the technique first though :)

      If you ever do want to try it again and are in the Kas area, look up Bougainville Travel as they are the leading tour company in that area for adventurous sports
      Natalie wrote about..Idyllic Phaselis : Beautiful Beaches and Ancient Ruins

  2. says

    I’ve been kayaking in Florida and Hawaii and I am a bit hindered by a shoulder injury. But, always if you try that is what counts! Now you know what you did wrong and you’ll kick the kayak’s ass next time.
    Mica wrote about..The new Wild Junket Magazine-simply gorgeous

  3. says

    . . never say die, Natalie! The area around Kale/Kekova is wonderful and is a trip we make often.

  4. says

    Life is all about the adventure, right? =) We did some kayaking on our honeymoon in Belize. Luckily, we were in the kayak together as it took me a while to get the hang of it. It’s not as easy as it looks. Good luck again!

  5. says

    When at first you fail, try, try again. Come visit Ka? again soon, BT kayak instructors are waiting to give you another course. :-)

    Great story, thanks for sharing…

  6. Doreen Murgatroyd says

    The photos certainly make sea kayaking very inviting – the water is so clear and blue. The trip looks like it would be a very enjoyable experience.

    I wonder if you noticed the type of kayaks they used? (I mean the manufacturer.) Just out of curiousity. Of course all sea kayaks look a little alike.
    Doreen Murgatroyd wrote about..Review Ocean Kayak Ultra 4.7 Angler

  7. says

    I grew up canoeing, but have always wanted to go kayaking! I have been tempted several times on the trip, maybe we should give it a go!
    Dayna wrote about..Village Life in Bulgaria

  8. says

    What a bummer that it didn’t work out for you. :( I love sea kayaking, but I grew up whitewater rafting (we lived on a great river for it) and kayaking was a natural extension of that. In college in San Diego I took a fun sea kayaking course where we took the boats out into the ocean and surfed on the waves! Exhilarating, terrifying, and painful when you inevitably crash. :)
    Christy @ Technosyncratic wrote about..Peak Spa: A Taste of Luxury in Chiang Mai

  9. says

    Andy (my husband) and I went kayaking on our Milford Sound tour. It was ok, but I have very little upper body strength, and I was attacked by sand flies the whole time. So not really an enjoyable experience for me. Although the view was great. Looks like you got some great pictures at least!
    Ali wrote about..Odd Signs and Statues in Southeast Asia

  10. says

    I had about the same experience – except my husband and I did the kayak for 2 and of course, he was SO frustrated with me b/c I couldn’t keep up with him so half the time we were going in circles! HA! We did complete the whole tour, but always at that back of the group and I never could figure out what I was doing wrong? I wondered if it was worth it for probably 3 days afterwards because I was so sore! That part was terrible! :)

  11. says

    Congratulations for going for it and you are right. A private lesson and pool sessions will help immensely. I know now that it has grabbed your attention, you will conquer it. Can’t wait to hear how the progress goes.
    Deb wrote about..Sunset Over Maman, National Gallery of Canada

  12. cheryl says

    Aww, sorry to hear that it was so tough! Sounds like a fun day though and different way to see Turkey.

    • says

      I wanted the double canoe as well Mary but I was traveling solo so had to battle it out on my own!

  13. mario says

    Going to kas in july , but i can’t swim , should i go sea kayaking or is it too dangerous if you can’t swim?
    Must be a beautiful trip but i’m a litlle bit scared .

    • Nat says

      Yeah – you could have a tandem kayak Annie but you would have to do the dogs work instead, otherwise you would just be going around in circles!

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