One of the most wonderfully relaxing days in North Cyprus can be found by taking a gulet cruise from Kyrenia harbour. There are many pleasure boats of differing sizes touting for business and they are moored throughout the horseshoe shaped curve of the harbour. In high summer when all the gulets will hope to be sailing, they will set off in a leisurely procession round about 10.00. Sun cream, swimming costumes, towels and a camera are essential items to take on board, and maybe a book!
As the vessel glides gently between the breakwater and the castle, and then out to sea there are photographic opportunities to capture views that cannot otherwise be seen. Usually the boats turn and head towards the west, staying fairly close to shore ensuring that the landmarks can be picked out with ease. For example as the harbour perimeter is reached the stark white grandeur of St. Michael’s church marks the point upon which the westernmost tower of the ancient city walls was built, and then comes the Dome hotel with its promontory containing the sea water pool constantly recycled with the tide. Along the coast the boat cruises slowly on, the only sounds are the splash of water from the prow and the soothing throb of the engine. The Jasmine Court hotel, Snake Island, the houses of Karaoglanoglu and Kervanseray beach are passed as the gulet makes its way to the first swim stop. This will vary according to the weather and the time of day, but usually it will be at Escape Beach, where the sea-borne landings took place in July 1974.
Swimming in the translucent turquoise water, sunbathing on deck, enjoying the refreshing cold drinks that are in plentiful supply and eating a special Cypriot lunch of freshly prepared salads, cheeses and fried fish are an experience it is hard to better. It is usual for the boats to move on to another bay further along the coast with plenty of time for digestion before another swim stop is made. All too soon a perfect day is over as the boats head for home again.
As the day progresses and the light upon the mountain changes, the view from the sea takes on a different aspect. The stark brightness of the sun in the early part of the day reveals the villages in clear detail, and the distinct outline of St. Hilarion Castle high above Kyrenia still watching over the town below as it has done for over seven hundred years. In the afternoon the sun gives everything a more golden glow that slowly alters to a softening shade of pink and the gulet glides slowly back into the sheltering harbour.