Aysegul Duru redefines #goldeneditgirls. Raised in Bodrum, in the southwest of Turkey, she is a second generation yachtswoman, now at the helm of luxury yacht charter company, Durukos Yachting. Before joining Durukos, her father made sure she had real hands-on experience working as a stewardess and deckhand on charter yachts in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Her family has been building exceptional yachts and traditional wooden boats native to these waters - known as gulet - for over forty years. The Duru's share a love for the sea and have been charting incredible adventures across the Aegean and Mediterranean (aka: some of the most beautiful waters in the world) for the past 40 years.
To say she is passionate about her vocation is an understatement. During the summer, you will typically find her in Bodrum, Mykonos or Dubrovnik. Oh, and did we mention she also sails competitively?!
We asked Aysegul for her tips on sailing the Greek islands off the beaten path and her ultimate itinerary, in case you find yourself in Greece this summer.
The Dodecanese islands
The sunniest corner in Greece
The island complex of Dodecanese, meaning ‘twelve islands’ in Greek, is located in the south-eastern Aegean Sea and just a stone’s throw from the Turkish coast. The waters are always crystal clear and the beaches offer both sandy and pebbly options, so you’ll find one you love no matter your preference. If you have a penchant for discovery and the lesser-known, these islands will satisfy your summer appetite – each has a unique personality, with its own share of secrets.
For sunbaking and charming views
Jimmy's Balcony is a cocktail hour favorite for its views and friendly owner. Aysegul suggests you stop there for a couple of ouzos before heading to dinner at Beneto's - a farm to table restaurant that grows its own vegetables and pairs them with fresh seafood caught by local fishermen.
The walk to the town center, Chora, in the south central part of the island, is a wonderful way to discover the island at night. Stop by Astivi 1673, the oldest bar in town, for drinks with locals.
If you happen to be visiting the island in July, check out its International Film Festival.
For secret beaches and mosaic paths
Located among the north Dodecanese group, just off the Turkish coast, Leros is increasingly growing in popularity. Aysegul tells us that each Captain has a favorite hidden beach so when sailing around Leros, ask your Captain for theirs.
The island has many hills and low mountains, so the best way to witness the local sunsets is with a late afternoon hike.
One of the Aegean's best kept secrets is a small restaurant known as Mylos, but the cool kids call it by the owner's name, Taki's. Aysegul's favorites are the feta wrapped in kadayif drizzled with honey, sea urchins, and lobster linguine. If you're in the mood to dance and make friends, Faros is a small bar with great tunes.
For its white pebble beach and bluest water
The island of Arki, eight miles north east of Patmos, is basically uninhabited, with a permanent population of under 50 people - dreamy! It's a little corner of paradise away from tourism where nature is the absolute master. If you're lucky enough to be visiting the tiny island, take your favorite book and enjoy an afternoon of sunbaking at its white pebble beach.
For tranquility lovers
Just west of Arki, you'll find Marathi, a place to truly get away from it all. It's a speck of an island where you'll find peace and enjoy a slice of island life. To really switch off, leave your phone on the boat and spend the afternoon floating in the Aegean.
With just a few restaurants on the beach and little to no nightlife, it's a true escape. Aysegul says Luv All Sea Bar is not to be missed - it's a teeny bar overlooking the bay, serving cold beers with a view.