When most travelers envision a trip to Turkey, it’s filled with watching hot air balloons take off from Cappadocia or spending hours marveling at the craftsmanship of the handmade rugs in the markets. But, there’s also another side of the Southeastern European country— its gorgeous riviera along the Aegan sea. 

In May, 10 Black travel journalists and content creators set out on the experience of a lifetime along the Turkish Riviera, and they took us inside their trip. The luxury sailing expedition was organized by veteran traveler Eulanda Osagiede, who grew up sailing and boating in the U.S. Although she had sailed with the company, ScicSailing, in year’s past, she approached the co-owner to pitch an adventure consisting of only Black sailors— considering the spending power of Black travelers over the last few years. 

It was an idea they could not refuse. 

Image: courtesy of Eulanda Osagiede

“I’ve noticed that as I've traveled abroad as an adult, especially within Europe, Black people are underrepresented in luxury sailing content, marketing materials, adverts, and even print and digital coverage in mainstream publications around sailing culture,” Eulanda Osagiede told EBONY. “Google ‘group sailing trips’, or ‘luxury sailing trips’ and the imagery that will come up will overwhelmingly feature white people. You can spend a good five minutes scrolling before being able to count one Black person featured in any photo as a guest. This does not represent the amount of Black people who are actually interested in luxury sailing experiences.”

For Osagiede, it was important that each attendee felt safe in the space that was intentionally curated for them. Overall, the group had an amazing time and said they felt safe along the different stops in Turkey, as well while on the yacht with the Turkish crew. 

“I'd been to Turkey before, so I knew that I wouldn't be greeted with any racism or negativity,” Martinique Lewis, one of the sailors on the experience, told EBONY. “This time exceeded my expectations because I was in a different setting. Sailing with four Turkish men allowed me to interact in ways I couldn't as a tourist on shore. They weren't trying to sell me anything, just genuine connection. The excursions we had weren't typical, and they immersed us into the local culture. Additionally, the last place I visited in Turkey wasn't as close to the sea, as we were on this trip. I am such a water person, and I enjoyed being able to take advantage of the sea anytime I pleased.”

A week on the high seas

Image: courtesy of Eulanda Osagiede

The group spent a total of 7-days on the yacht. Each day brought something different, and they were able to stop in different communities for some cultural immersion.

“Yacht life is easy living,” Lewis said. “Every Morning I'd wake up at 5am and go to the nose of the yacht to watch the sunrise. I'd come back to that spot throughout the day to take naps and sip Rosé. We had meals prepared for us 3 times a day and anything we desired we could have. The service the crew provided was exceptional, and each day they showed us we were valued. I loved being briefed daily about what the next stop was and how long it'd take. I loved getting off the ship and exploring the unknown. Every day provided something new and brought so much joy.”

Osagiede chimed in, adding that the itinerary was designed to make the experience feel effortless, and the crew kept the group’s safety top of mind. 

“Any locals we talked with were always so friendly, eager, and proud to share aspects of their beautiful culture with us,” she said.

Tips for planning your luxury sailing in Turkey

First and foremost, Osagide says that knowing if you are prone to seasickness or motion sickness is key to being able to enjoy a similar experience. 

“Trust me, it makes the experience so much more enjoyable if everyone can take to sailing the seas with ease.”

If you happen to plan a similar trip, here are a few things the group recommends doing along the way:

Going to the local market: It’s a way to interact with locals, and get a taste of local foods.

A Jeep safari: A way to explore Turkey’s countrysides and villages. Most safaris also include additional activities like: feeding turtles, seeing a wishing tree, going to a vineyard, and an olive oil farm experience, just to name a few.

Image: courtesy of Eulanda Osagiede

Trying a Turkish breakfast: According to Lewis, everything is fresh from the gardens, and it’s very flavorful. The portions are vast, and they take joy in you enjoying.

Image: courtesy of Eulanda Osagiede

Finally, we asked if this is an experience that other Black travelers should take part in. Martinique said:

“Hell yes! I already booked for my mom's 70th birthday next year. The whole family is coming from ages 7-70. This trip is meant for everyone couples, girlfriends, friends, young, old, everyone! I want to see more Black travelers in the Turkish Riviera because they want to learn more about us, too. These kinds of trips bridge the gap of the unknown and help connect cultures through authentic experiences.”