Scuba diving in Turkey is gaining new popularity in the Mediterranean. After all, the world’s first divers lived and practiced this sport off the shores of Anatolia and Alexander the Great, who had lived in this region, is believed to have been first to discover and use the diving bell. The Mediterranean is known as the world’s richest underwater archaeological centre dating back to the Neolithic period, 4000 BC. There is no other place on earth, which has such rich historical and cultural entities. Today, beautiful coral reefs and the wreckage of sunken merchant ships, which date back to ancient times, will captivate you. You’ll be amazed at the diversity and amount of life. Marine fauna, such as, gorgonia and lace corals can be seen in the caverns and tunnels and fish, such as, groupers, wrasse, gobies, proliferate.
There are now many dive centres and clubs amongst coastal resorts offering PADI, CMAS, BSAC, NAUI and SSI courses. Antalya, Kemer, and Kas represent three well-established dive locations. The underwater temperate climate along the Turkish coastline is ideal for year round snorkelling and diving. However, the optimum time of year to dive is April to October with autumn the best time to observe profuse fish behaviour. The most dazzling underwater features are however, the ancient wrecks.
As I mentioned in my previous article, the world’s oldest known shipwreck called the Uluburun Wreck, from the 14th century, is very close to Kas, a small, lovely, and relaxed harbour Mediterranean town. Diving in Kas ranks among the top 50 dive destinations in the world. There are more than 30 colourful dive sites, offering divers a choice of 10 walls that drop off to 40-50 meters, numerous reefs, many caves, 3 wooden shipwrecks, and an Italian WW II plane wreck at 60-70 meters in the midst of five islands. The warplane with 3 propellers crashed and fell on the reefs near to Kas. The reason of the accident is still a mystery and unexploded ammunition is still scattered around the wreckage.
Kemer, east of Kas, is set on the Mediterranean coastline of Turkey in a picturesque location looking out across azure waters of the Taurus Mountains. A major diving site in Kemer is a shipwreck called Paris. This French shipwreck is about 1 ?? kilometres away and lying on the sand at a depth of 25 meters. She sank mysteriously during WW II. The wreck is easily accessible despite heavy decomposition of the wooden bow. Cannon balls adorn the stern deck and porcelain debris is scattered both forward and aft. ‘Three islands’ are 45 kilometres away from Kemer; offering additional dive sites. A Marine Park has been established at Three Islands to preserve and protect the area and is suitable for both beginners and experienced divers. The establishment of the marine park has markedly improved the quantity and quality of marine life
Lara and Konyalti are the two beaches in Antalya and offer great beach diving. A marvellous and a-must-see travertine goes down to the depths of 14 to 25 meters, after that sand begins. The rocks at the bottom of Konyalti go down to 25 meters and provide a natural habitat for marine life. Dove Island, to the west of Antalya is just a few kilometres away. The western shore is shallow and the bottom is sandy, perfect for beginners, while the northeast shore offers a challenging dive to experienced divers with its rocky outcroppings at a depth of 22 meters. There is also a small cave on the eastern shore. The Gelidonya Antique wreck is also at the far west of Antalya Bay. This cargo ship crashed into the rocks and began to scatter its goods while sinking. Sea worms have destroyed most parts of the ship but information gathered from her excavation revealed that she dates back to the Early Bronze Age, when Myceans held the monopoly for naval trade. Lying at a depth of 26-28 meters it is believed that the ship sank at the end of 13 BC.
Thanks to Antalya and Dalaman airports divers from all major European cities can fly to these locations. Turkish Airlines (THY) has regular flights in Boeing and Airbus planes for Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, Adana, and Dalaman and most international airlines have regular flights from the world’s major cities to Turkey’s international airports.
For more information regarding visa regulations and travel tips, check out the Web site of the Turkish Embassy at Washington D.C.