Within the seas of Turkey, divers can discover a fascinating submerged world, from underwater caverns to sunken ships and even the remains of ancient cities. The only areas prohibited from diving are military zones, those conducting scientific research and areas under protection.
Antalya & Province
This world famous tourist region has the highest number of diving schools in the country, containing many contrasting diving sites. A French military transportation ship at the entrance of Antalya harbour lies at a depth of 20 – 32m. The islands in the open seas around Tekirova has a wonderful array of sea life including huge thornback rays, and is also a good location for cavern diving. During August and September there is a huge amount of tuna fish and seals, and dolphins can be seen throughout the year. Lying 1km from the Antalya Yacht Harbour is the site of a French battleship, San Didier, which sank during the war in 1942. During excavations in 1946 and 1974, a major part of the ship‚Äôs cargo was discovered, including ammunition and medical equipment. Although there is little left in the submerged ship, it is still attracting much interest from divers, and permission is required from the Antalya Goverment and Marine Police Department. The area between the beaches of Lara and Konyaalti, are the two biggest in Antalya, has attractive rock formations and sea life between a depth of 14 ‚Äì 25m. The small island of Sican, a few kilometres from Antalya harbour, is also a popular diving region.
The coast on the west side is relatively shallow and sandy (maximum 8m) but on the northeast side with rocky seabed descends to 22m, which also has a small cavern. Submerged 200m from the coast near Manavgat, east of Antalya, is a B-24 American war plane named Hadley‚Äôs Harem, which came down after leaving its base in Cyprus after bombing over Romania in 1944. The cockpit was removed during studies in 1995, and now lies in a private museum in Istanbul. Diving to this particular site requires special permission. In Gelidonya, at the west of Antalya bay, there are the submerged remains of a cargo ship which sank after crashing on the rocks near to what is now known as Taslik cape. During research performed by divers in 1960 to a depth of 28m, the first completed underwater excavation, it was determined that the ship dates back to the 13th century BC. Research in 1994 revealed its Middle Eastern origins, as deduced from the anchor, and excavated items are exhibited in Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum.
Suluin Cavern, in the region of Kirkgoz, used to be a dry area, which is indicated by the stalactites and stalagmites. This plateau around Antalya is travertine, composed of limestone which has dissolved. During research in 1995, the depth of the cavern reaches 83m, with a huge entrance at 45m covered with stalactites, travertine pools and other formations and many water channels off the cave.
The seas around Kalkan are suited to experienced divers, with species of sea life including sharks, turtles, tuna and thornback rays. Patara has coral and sea sponges, and the Fener waters descend from 11 ‚Äì 132m, with lively and colourful sights. Oksuz Island is known for its lizard fish, a member of the shark family. 60m off the east coat of Uluburun and 9km southeast of Kas lie the ruins of a cargo ship dating back to the 14th century BC. As a result of dives in 1984 the ship‚Äôs cargo, which had slipped to a depth of 61m, was removed and some of it exhibited in the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum today. Near the Greek island of Meis off the coast of Kas, there are the submerged remains of an Italian plane from World War II. Its first sighting is at a depth of 57m, its tail going as far as 70m, and there is still ammunition within the wreckage.
Gok Cavern near Finike, is one of the deepest in Asia which is accessible to divers. The cavern reaches the seabed and has a wide entrance, and the presence of stalactites indicates that this was once dry.
One of the most popular diving areas in the region is the Three Islands, off Tekirova, which has many diver sites and greater depth than Antalya. The wreckage of a submerged ship lying 2km from Kemer Yacht Harbour at a depth of 25m, belongs to a French cargo ship which sank during World War II. It is estimated to have been built in 1896, and has three decks and two warehouses, of which some is still covered in tiles.
Balƒ±kesir & Province
According to a rumour, the area around Ayvalik is the location of the lost city of Atlantis ‚Äì but what is known is the unique diving options especially off Gunes Island, Yuvarlak Island and Kerbela Rocks. The most popular area is the waters off Kiz Island with fascinating underwater fauna from a depth of 19m.
Muƒüla & Province
The area around Datca has wonderful diving opportunities with many sharks, dolphins and Mediterranean seals at a depth of between 10-40m, especially around the islands of Kara Incir. There is a good dive point off Esen Island, which is connected to Datca harbour.
There are 52 diving points and a large selection of ancient underwater ruins around the area of Marmaris, including off the coast of Dis (33m), Rodos, Kutuk, Burnu, Cennet Island, Kadirga Feneri and Kargi Island. The steep slope of the seabed off Cennet Island contains especially beautiful plant and animal life.
Bodrum is famous for one of the greatest underwater museums in the world. But it is also known for its great diving opportunities with great depths, colourful sea sponges and caverns. The east wall off Orak Island, exceeding 100m in depth, is a diving haven with beautiful rock formations in the shallow area, which can take easily take a whole day to experience fully. The waters around Kargi and Kocek islands, around 20-30m depth, contain antique ruins, with sea creatures of all sizes and good for macro photography. Catal Island and the coast off Gemitasi are also good dive sites.
√áanakkale & Province
Saros is a favourite spot for divers due to its proximity to Istanbul, and is full of submerged ruins like Captain Franco, which lies at the entrance of Canakkale Strait in Saros bay. Underwater fauna includes black fauna.
Gokceada and Bozcaada
Because there are no diving schools in Gokceada, the surrounding towns must be used instead. There are submerged ruins from World War I in Kuzu Harbour, and many huge anchors and wrecks of ships between the Mermer Lighthouse and the Anatolian coast. Around these waters are the islands of Orfoz, Karayer and Essek, which are home to a huge range of sea creatures. Canak harbour, Bakla Tasi, Pinar Dere Mermer Cape, and the south of Tuz cape are good points for diving. There is a diving school in Bozcaada, with good tourist facilities, and its waters have interesting plant life and sea creatures.
The clear waters of Mersin have many interesting dive sites including the sunken cargo ship at the western cape of Dana island. There is a submerged island northwest of Sancak bay, with large ancient oil jars.