The shallow coral reefs of Turkey being explored by a scuba diver

Amazing Destinations for Scuba Diving in Turkey

18 Feb 2019 By Danielle Gunner
The shallow coral reefs of Turkey being explored by a scuba diver

Join us as we discover the hidden treasures of Turkey’s mysterious waters, from its exotic marine life to its secret caves. Dive its depths and revel in the colourful corals of the Mediterranean, or get lost in historical World War I wreckages nestled within the seabed of the Aegean.

Suitable for beginners and experts alike, scuba diving in Turkey will allow all levels to explore its ocean floor. There are over 125 shipwrecks spread across this idyllic coast dating back to the 14th century BC. Our handy guide will give you the low-down on these exclusive areas, alongside the top diving schools perfect for newbies and the best destinations for underwater adventures.

Bodrum

The wreckage of Dakota C47 plane from the Turkish Air Force on the seabed of Turkey and eroding away

Why visit? There are just over 20 diving sites along the Bodrum coast, these underwater landscapes cover reefs, caves and three purposely sunken wrecks. Instructors famously take divers around Karaada or Black Island just east of the resort, where stingray, turtles and dolphins are often spotted. However, for octopuses, Moray eels and many other unique species of fish head for Kacaki Bay. The depths here range from five to 30 metres making it perfect for new or experienced swimmers.

Advanced divers can weave their way in and out of Red lionfish, Barracudas and Groupers as they tackle the Big and Small Reef. Along the way witness ex-coast guard patrol ships, a 37-metre-long ex-Turkish Navy water tanker and DAKOTA C47 plane wreckage.

Which ocean? Aegean Sea

Other diving spots:

  • Bubble Cave – Situated near Black Island at a depth of 39 feet, swim through metre wide crevices and witness the natural bubble that rises from the rocks inside the cave.
  • Dakota Plane Wreck – Serving as a transporter for parachutists in the Turkish Air Force, the engine, wings and cockpit are still fully intact at this wreckage site.
  • Gokova Bay – As a Special Environment Protected Area, swim among notable species such Sandbar sharks and Mediterranean monk seals.
  • Pinnar 1 Wreck – Sitting between 18 to 33 metres deep, this old military ship was submerged in 2007 and is particularly popular among photographers for its unspoilt wheel house.

Diving schools in Bodrum:

  • Dive Academy
  • The Aegean Pro Dive Centre
  • Barakuda Bodrum
  • Aquapro Diving Centre

Did you know? To become a certified diver, you usually have to participate in four open-water dives with an instructor.

This course can be completed over the duration of your holiday, and once finished you can swim under the supervision of a professional, up to a maximum depth of 12 to 40 metres all over the world.  

Kas

The dark caves of Kas featuring a small fishing boat and diver exploring

Why visit? Said to be one of the top 100 diving locations in the world, Kas offers deep sea swimmers the chance to roam mysterious steamships such as the Duchess of York’s vessel and Ottoman shipwreck. It’s by far the most highly-rated spot on the island for its variety of sea life including Amberjacks, seahorses and turtles. Famous for its picturesque underwater world and 30 sites, float between canyons, coves and relics dating back 2,000 years.

The main highlight is the Blue Hole, which is home to several types of reef sharks and tropical fish. Lying in the centre of the Lighthouse Reef, this large sinkhole is 410-feet-deep and the world’s largest natural formation of its kind.

Which ocean? Mediterranean Sea

Other diving spots:

  • Camel Reef – Famous for its two humps, this small 14-metre site boasts strong currents making it ideal for experienced divers and is home to large Grouper fish.
  • Dakota Plane – This 65-foot-long wreck is another purposely submerged cargo World War 1 aircraft, and one of the most popular diving spots in Turkey.
  • Pigeon Island – Ideal for newbies for its shallow depths, this spot allows divers to roam ruins including pottery and ancient artifacts from Roman eras.
  • Heybeliada – Nestled among two small islands, this scenic site is renowned for its sea grass, turtles and skeletal frame of an unknown shipwreck.

Diving schools in Kas:

  • Sundiving
  • Likya Diving Centre
  • Barracuda Diving Centre
  • Kas Diving

Top tip: Record every second of your aquatic experience and take a GoPro camera.

Antalya

Divers exploring the ocean walls off the coast of Turkey over 30 metres deep

Why visit? Enticing you in with its dramatic coastline, Antalaya’s natural beauty has a reputation as being some of the best in the country. Renowned for its reefs, drop-off points and ancient sea walls – it’s a diver’s oasis. Learners will be in awe of the coast guard wreckage that sits in the artificial reef near Side, while the more advanced can tour the 1977 German U-boats.

Your exploration will lead you to discover remains of ancient artifacts from pottery to old fortress relics. Close by find The Side Underwater Museum which was created in 2015, here lies  landmarks such as the Temple of Poseidon and War of Independence statues.

Which ocean? Mediterranean Sea

Other diving spots:

  • Paris Wreck – Southwest of Antalya lies a submerged freighter at 32 metres, which sunk during its mission to block German ships.  
  • Lighthouse Kemer – Seven minutes from the yacht harbour, awaits underwater tunnels and caves full of Sea tulips, Sea hares and Marine worms.
  • Kirish – Ideal for learners for its calm current, fancy rock formations and magnificent caves.
  • TCSG-117 coast guard boat – Just outside of Side, this artificial reef is a sight for sore eyes with its rustic remains and surrounding schooling fish.

Diving schools in Antalya:

  • Stingray Diving
  • Antalya Scuba Diver Dive Centre
  • Star Diving Academy
  • Pearl Diving Centre  

Did you know? Just off the coast of Antalya find Kekova, where the remains of an underwater city are visible from the waves. In 2008 divers were banned from the area, however restricted diving is allowed with special permission and under strict supervision of archaeologists.

Fethiye

Large turtle swimming off the coast of Antalya among divers

Why visit? Wetsuits at the ready! The ocean floor of Fethiye is made up of swim-through arches coated in soft corals, mysterious tunnels and plunging slopes. Distinguished sites harbour Roman amphorae dating back to 300 BC, while secluded coves nest Cuttlefish, lobsters and octopuses. Adrenaline-filled adventures can be found in Amphorae Bay, where intermediate swimmers will tackle its three narrow burrows.

Red Island is a natural amphitheatre measuring 20 metres, head here at night with a torch to reveal a plethora of vivid sponge. Investigate the engine bays of the 40-metre-long TSCG ship that sits 27 metres below land.

Which ocean? Aegean Sea

Other diving spots:

  • Amphorae Bay – Descending for 60 metres, this never-ending site consists of massive boulders covered in brightly coloured coral and sponge, with Clownfish and white Groupers weaving in and out of its cracks.
  • Aladdin’s Cave – Sinking down a wall of 98 feet, find two smaller caves and the entrance to the ‘Turkish Bath’, this cove sparkles like gold with the sun reflecting off its yellow rocks.
  • Sariyalar Bay – Enjoy a 100-metre swim past Shrimp and Crayfish, then keep your eyes peeled for octopuses among the rocks before you enter one of the bay’s epic tunnels.  
  • Balaban Island – With gently sloping walls placing you among lobsters, Barracudas, Squirrel fish and several other species, this spot takes two hours to dive.

Diving schools in Fethiye:

  • Elite Diving Centre
  • European Diving Centre
  • Divers Delight Fethiye
  • Mermaid Diving Club

Did you know? Scuba diving lessons range from £30 – £150 depending on the level and qualifications needed.

Marmaris

The underwater coves and caves off the coast of Marmaris explored by divers with cameras

Why visit? Just like dry land, the depths of the ocean in Marmaris are no less attractive. It’s one of the most popular watersports in the area due to its clear waters and visibility. Whether you’re renting equipment or taking a guided scuba diving excursion, you won’t be disappointed by its vast marine life, rare rock formations and steep walls.

Baca Cave also known as ‘Chimney Cave’ due to its distinctive shape is a top starting point for beginners, it’s only 14 metres in depth and is home to small shrimp and Red Cardinal fish. Aksu Cove boasts a 40-metre-high wall and pieces of Byzantium remains are scattered along its seabed.

Which ocean? Aegean Sea

Other diving spots:

  • Goat Island Lighthouse – Just below this iconic spot find a wealth of remains, unearth war artifacts and architectural relics. Then, surround yourself in the plethora of Moray eels and Flower Horn fish.
  • Kadirga Cove – Opposite the Kadirga Lighthouse find the rusty wreckage from a Hellenistic age ship, where you’ll see crabs alongside Greek and Roman amphorae.  
  • Inceburun Lighthouse – Facing the bay of Marmaris, dive 38 metres below the ocean’s surface and discover Leerfish and schools of Bream.  

Diving schools in Marmaris:

Did you know? There are 52 diving points in Marmaris alone!

Further must-visit diving destinations in Turkey

Escape the resorts and head to Turkey’s most exclusive areas, where cavern dives and unique species are easy to come by.

  • Ayvalik – a rumoured location of ‘The Lost City of Atlantis’.
  • Govoka – best for wall diving
  • Mersin – popular for its ancient oil jars
  • Canakkale – full of submerged ruins and close to Istanbul

Best time to scuba dive in Turkey

Expert diver exploring the sea bed of Turkey's coastline with a camera taking photos of the coral reefs

Although diving in Turkey can be done all year round, for the warmest waters we’d recommend swimming in its depths between April and November. The sea temperature average at around 21°C and in the summer can rise above 30°C.

Visibility is at its best in the summer, when the underwater climate is at its highest. However, if you’d like the most exclusive spots to yourself, avoid peak seasons.

Top tip: Wanting scuba diving lessons? In order to fully complete an intense course during your holiday to Turkey, we’d suggest traveling outside of August and July when tourism is at its highest.

With 8,000 kilometres of coastline full of old artifacts, marine parks and islands beneath the surface – the choice of diving spots in Turkey are endless.

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