We keep saying this it seems, in most of our activity articles here on Essential Cyprus, that there are many ways to see and appreciate North Cyprus – this one is just another fantastic way of doing so! If you have ever been on holiday in a coastal location in Turkey, then you may already understand the concept of taking a boat trip here too.
This is also one of the most peaceful and tranquil ways to spend a day, with a group of friends and family, experiencing all that the coastline of North Cyprus has to offer. Even if you actually live in North Cyprus, you should always take the opportunity to see the mountains, coastal coves and headlands from out at sea. And, as a friend once said, it’s great for sun, sea, sail, snorkel, swim, sup and snack!
Most boat tours and trips in North Cyprus depart from Kyrenia and Boğaz harbours daily, and we are not even going to give names of companies that do the trips as you only have to take a stroll around the old harbour areas and you will find them very easily! There are some very nice boats too, of differing sizes and decor. They all have open deck space for sunbathing and seated interiors so can you escape the sun, if you ever feel the need.
Generally, they will depart between 9-11am and return around 4 to 6pm. This is the general rule for open tours, where you will join up with other people who have also booked places. Good for making new friends then! You can, if you prefer, book a private boat, if there are enough people to make it worthwhile for the boat owner of course.
Each boat will have a standard offering for guests, which will include sailing out to the east or west of Kyrenia or Boğaz, with a stop or two along the way there and back, so that you can have a mad hour or two, diving off the ship, do some snorkeling in the coves, fishing and swimming. It is really nice to be able to just park up, with no one else around, and just completely relax and enjoy the scenery.
The coastline is wonderful, with the huge mountain range backdrop, with villages easily distinguished and clear waters to dive into. You can also get a very different perspective on places of interest in Kyrenia, such as Kyrenia Castle or Lapta Monastery, as well as seeing the remaining functional Turkish army camps which still dot the coastline!
The boat company will also provide lunch too, which can be anything from Turkish Cypriot meze and meats, to curries and fish bbq. Desserts will usually consist of fresh fruits and huge watermelons. They will also always cater very well for any dietary needs as well, and you won’t be found wanting for a drink or two with a well-stocked bar!
Obviously there are toilet and changing facilities on all boats, but do remember to take plenty of high factor suncream for a day out on the open sea, along with your towels, swimming a snorkeling gear. Do check with the boat operator though, as they often can provide fins, goggles and such. Hats and sunglasses are also highly recommended and t-shirts for those snorkelers who bob away on the surface for long periods of time!
If you are taking a boat trip in either during bird migration time (around April and September are the busy months for birds), then do take some binoculars if you have some – great sightings can be had at these times of the year. You may also be lucky enough to spot dolphins too or even turtles which visit beaches in North Cyprus yearly to lay their eggs from June through to August/September. If snorkeling is your thing you may well spot urchins, starfish, flatfish, mollusks and other delights.
If you don’t fancy going out in the day time as perhaps it might be too hot for you, then several boat tours do evening trips too, usually leaving before dark so that you can take in the beautiful sunset disappearing over the horizon. A very nice trip to take if you fancy a great curry for dinner too, as we found on one trip.
In more recent years, and not something that any of us from Essential would particularly enjoy, as it is geared more to the younger generations, is the disco/foam boat parties at night time too. Leave that to the kids!
As we mentioned, just take a wander down to the harbour where you will find all the reps touting for business and book in advance, as they can get booked up in the busy holiday period. If there are quite a few of you looking to book, then there is also no harm in negotiating for some discount, in fact you should! Prices at the time of writing are around £20-25 per person which includes your food and drinks.