Water-babies can dive into a host of active beach breaks in Turkey, writes Aby Dunsby

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A water-based break to Turkey no longer means a fly-and-flop package to the beach. There’s plenty of action to be had on Turkey’s topaz-coloured waters too, with inventive operators offering everything from waterski and wakeboard packages to group sailing trips aboard a traditional gulet.

Kids big and small are spoilt for choice with an impressive offering of water parks, from the toddler-friendly to the white knuckle, and with some great prices to be had this summer, these make a good hook for clients who might be feeling hesitant about travelling to Turkey.

Sail: Skimming the waves

Gulet cruises on a traditional wooden sailing boat are a fantastic, slow-paced way to discover Turkey’s sun-soaked coastline, idyllic secret bays and forgotten ruins. Clients can charter a gulet with family or friends, or join a shared cruise around the coast.

The single-masted boat comes with its own crew to cook and sail, and luxury gulets have en suite facilities and air conditioning, though clients should be prepared to pay for the privilege.

A typical day will see passengers sailing along the beautiful coastline for a few hours, then dropping anchor in a peaceful bay to swim, snorkel or sunbathe on deck. Monarch’s seven-night Turquoise Cruise takes in numerous places of interest including the vibrant market town of Fethiye and historic Tersane Island, once used as a port by the Ottoman fleet during the First World War.

Anatolian Sky Holidays’ new Southern Dodecanese gulet cruise skips back and forth between the Turkish coastline and Greek islands, flitting from Bodrum to Kos and Rhodes, then back over to the ancient cities of Datça and Knidos – birthplace of scientists and artists including Sostratus, the architect of the Alexandrian lighthouse – then back to Bodrum. Prices start from £569.

Those looking to explore the coast in a smaller group can hop aboard a catamaran for a sea-faring adventure taking in the wonders of the Turkish Riviera. On G Adventures’ 10-day sailing trip, clients cruise parallel to the Lycian Way, a popular route with a long-standing maritime culture, while also taking time out to discover off-the-beaten-path treasures. Enjoy snorkelling, sunbathing or swimming in open waters, hop back on-shore to visit Datça and the ancient ruins of Knidos, or make the most of the many beach pit-stops along the way.

For clients looking to dip their toe into a sailing adventure rather than embarking on an all-out week on board, suggest a day excursion. Ruben Cabezuelo, short-haul product and purchasing manager at Travel 2, recommends the trip from D-Hotel Maris. “The hotel owns a 16-metre motor yacht and a 100ft wooden sailing yacht, Paşa, which are available to charter for day tours,” he says.

Sailing fans will also love the trendy Yacht Classic Hotel in Fethiye, which boasts two swimming pools overlooking a private waterfront and the marina, and elegant decor with nautical style nods throughout.

The hotel offers daily sailing trips on its private luxury yacht, exploring bays and islands around Fethiye at leisure. Anatolian Sky Holidays offers seven nights at the Yacht Classic Hotel from £589, and private marina boat trips can be booked through the hotel.


Splash: Fun in the sun

Water parks remain a perennial family holiday crowd-pleaser: while daredevil slides provide adult-worthy thrills and spills, there are plenty of leisurely rides that bob along to keep younger kids entertained too.

Many Turkish hotels and resorts boast their own water parks, making them a popular option for the budget-conscious traveller as access is included in the accommodation cost.

FirstChoice SplashWorld hotel Pegasos World in Side has a huge new on-site water park with 13 adrenaline-pumping slides and multi-lane chutes perfect for racing, while little ones get their own area with a selection of mini slides and a pirate ship to play in.

Among the vast array of facilities at luxury all-inclusive hotel Crystal Sunset Luxury Resort & Spa is a spectacular water park that features a half-pipe, kamikaze slide and a slide for kids, as well as a large swimming pool.

Also in Turkish Riviera hotspot Antalya is Papillon Belvil, a smart family hotel with its own private beach and an on-site water park featuring six slides including the hair-raising Black Hole. Monarch offers an all-inclusive seven-night package at Papillon Belvil from £499.

Another family favourite is the purse-friendly, all-inclusive Didim Beach Hotel in Altinkum, near Bodrum. While adults seeking a spot of downtime will enjoy the hotel’s privileged position nestled in shaded hills, plus the private beach and spa, kids can while away many a fun filled hour in the hotel’s sun-splashed water park and three outdoor pools. Jet2holidays offers a seven-night package for a family of four from £249 per person.

Clients seeking luxurious accommodation can stay at five-star hotel D-Resort Grand Azur in Marmaris. It has plenty to offer parents, not least its private blue-flag beach at the bottom of palm-lined gardens, which even comes with its own restaurant and bar. The outdoor pool has been designed to resemble a cobalt blue river running through the hotel, and there’s a split-level pool with lazy river below and meandering waterslide above that kids will love.

Even if there aren’t any facilities on-site, plump for a family-friendly resort and there’s bound to be a water park nearby. Atlantis Marmaris Waterpark is an affordable option for fun-lovers of all ages, with plenty of slides, a kids’ pool and wave pool to splash about, plus mini-golf, bowling and a good selection of bars and restaurants. Those who prefer a dip in the sea rather than the busy pool can wind down on the private beach, which also offers free sunbeds and umbrellas. Attraction World offers entry for £20 per adult and £8 per child aged six to 12.

For thrill-seekers happy to splash out, Adaland Aqua Park is the largest in Europe and packed full of rides for the whole family, from wave pools and lazy rivers to a rafting track and free-fall slides. Tickets are £40 per adult and £32 per child aged seven to 12 through Attraction World.


Sport: Dive in

No matter how breathtaking the beach, active types will quickly tire of splaying out in the sun, so be sure to suggest a hotel that offers plenty of sporty, water-based facilities.

Active resort operator Neilson’s Phokaia Beachclub has introduced waterski and wakeboard packages catering to everyone from beginners to pros. The beginner course is aimed at those who want to make progress quickly, working towards a British Water Ski and Wakeboard bronze award (£150). Families keen to have a go can enroll on the family package, which allows clients exclusive access to Neilson instructors and one of the ski boats for up to three hours (£400).

Watersports fans can also get their fill at D-Hotel Maris, home to a sail and surf centre, a waterski and wakeboard hub and a certified diving centre, all of which boast top-notch equipment and trainers. The hotel’s bay location means conditions are some of the best the area has to offer: the flat, calm private bay area is ideal for diving and waterskiing, while the tip of the peninsula is windy and wavy, making it great for sailing and wakeboarding. The hotel also offers guided kayaking tours of the area.

At swish hotel Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort & Spa, there’s aqua aerobics, and a watersports and scuba diving centre, plus Turkish baths to soothe aching muscles afterwards.

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Monarch offers a seven-night full-board Turquoise Cruise from £599, including flights from Luton on May 23.

All-inclusive operator First Choice offers seven nights at SplashWorld Pegasos World from £1,109 per adult, £677 for the first child and £751 for the second. The price includes Stansted flights departing August 5 and transfers.

Travel 2 offers seven nights’ B&B at five-star D-Hotel Maris, with flights from Gatwick and private transfers, from £889 departing May 10.