Exploring Turkey Below The Surface

A country that belongs to both Europe and Asia, where East meets West in culture, history and cuisine, Turkey is also known for something else: diving. Hidden under the radar, this dive destination has over five thousand miles of shoreline and four seas: the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Black Sea. “There are many aspects that make this country special, from its beautiful beaches that are home to a wide variety of fish, to the thousands of historical shipwrecks and cultural heritage that lies underwater,” Asutay Akbayir, PADIs Regional Manager, Southern Mediterranean.

In Turkey, which is suitable for diving all year round, there are areas where you can dive, sunbathe and ski in the same day. There are over 90 PADI dive centers along the coast. “The water temperature in the south is about 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and about 23 degrees in the spring and fall,” says Akbayir. “During the coldest winter months, the minimum water temperature in the dive sites around Antalya is about 20 degrees Fahrenheit at most.” With the great underwater visibility, clarity and cleanliness of the water, it’s no wonder why it attracts so many divers.

What can divers expect to see?

There is so much diversity to see as you delve into Tukey. From stingrays, moray eels, octopus, scorpionfish, sea turtles and grouper to nullfish, lionfish, puffer fish, bream, black and yellow sponges, soft corals and if you’re lucky, monk seals.

According to Akbayir, there are several dive sites in Turkey, including the following.

Bodrum is good for reef and wreck diving. Popular dive sites include Big Reef, Small Reef, C47 Aircraft Wreck, Coast Guard Wreck and Pinar Wreck.

Cheese is good for wall, canyon, cave and wreck diving. Popular dive sites include Canyon, Big Cave, Tunnel Cave, Camel Reef, C47 Aircraft Wreck, Coast Guard Wreck and Neptune Reef.

Fethiye is good for cave and wall dives. Popular dive sites are Afkule Cave, Turkish Bath, Sarıyarlar Bay, Dalyan Bay, Barakuda Reef and Tunnel Bay.

alanya is good for cave diving. Popular dive sites include Rambo Cave, Tunnel Cave, Phosphorous Cave and Pirate Cave.

Canakkale is good for historical warship wrecks. Popular dive sites include the Lundy Wreck, HMS Louis Wreck and the Majestic Wreck.

Turkey’s top diving destination

The southern district of Kaş in Antalya province is one of the most popular diving spots in Turkey. Kaş offers a range of diving opportunities and the clear water allows for excellent visibility. There is an abundance of reefs, walls and underwater canyons at all 15 dive sites in this part of the Mediterranean.

Hailed as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, Kaş offers the bonus of an Ottoman shipwreck and the mystery of the Sakarya and Duchess of York ships. The Turkish-built Sakarya was wrecked in the 1940s, while the Duchess of York was a naval trawler built in Glasgow between 1927 and 1929.

Another popular dive site is the Douglas C-47 Skytrain (referred to as the Dakota), a military transport aircraft sunk in 2009 to create an artificial reef. Now covered in seaweed, it attracts an abundance of marine life. It is a popular dive site as it is rare to dive to an underwater plane.

Heybeli Island near Kalkan offers a rocky landscape for divers to explore and the chance to see turtles. Two small islands form the base of this relatively shallow and scenic dive.

Cargo ship Dimitri ran aground on Kovan Island in 1968, offering a 65-foot descent into a narrow crevice known as the Canyon, covered in colorful growth.

Another large ship, TCSG 119, was sunk in 2011 to create an artificial reef. It came to a halt lower than planned and is now 40 meters up on a flat, sandy bottom. The reef itself starts at about 50 feet and the wreck sits upright with the deck around the 115 foot mark. It has a substantial growth cover, including large spiral tube worms. Small fish patrol the wheelhouse while you can see saddled sea bream in the wreck.

Tips for diving in Turkey

Check out PADI’s Turkey Dive Guide to connect with PADI Dive Centers, plan the best time to visit and learn more about the different dive sites.

“Almost 95% of the dives are boat dives, which start at 9am and offer two dives per day, with the trip ending around 4pm,” says Akbayir. “Lunch is provided between the two dives.”

Akbayir explains that thanks to well-organized and large boats, divers have the opportunity to see the best dive sites with slightly longer sailing times. “Dive boats usually have an upper deck for sunbathing and the lower deck is for gear setup,” he says.

What Makes Diving in Turkey Unique?

Says AkbayirI have been running a PADI Dive Center for 25 years and organizing diving trips to Maldives, Sharm, Hurghada, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cyprus and many other beautiful places. I have seen very colorful dive sites, but I have never seen a place where I can have everything I need: diving, super comfortable accommodation, super clean sea, well organized dive boats and crew, beautiful dive sites, great night life and delicious Eating at great restaurants with great hospitality. The biggest advantage of coming to Turkey for diving is to have all this for a very reasonable price.”

Turkey has an amazing array of marine life and when you combine that with everything this country has to offer on land, it’s no wonder tourism here has grown exponentially.

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