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The nooks and folds that make up the Turkish coastline make Turkey an ideal dive and sail destination, especially for families or divers just embarking upon their lifetime dive journey. The main season runs from April to November, and the underwater scenery includes caverns, walls and both modern and historical wrecks, as well as a number of shallow reef areas. Plus, with so much maritime history in the region, there's a real chance to find ancient pottery and the amphora used as storage on ancient merchant vessels. Like most of the Mediterranean, you'll find bream in abundance, schools of barracuda, stingrays in the sandy areas, interesting seahorses and a variety of garish and gaudy nudibranchs. When you're not lolling on the sand soaking up the sun between dives, there are numerous historical sites to explore, local markets to peruse for authentic crafts and snacks, and in some places a rocking nightlife, including the big open air night club - Halikarnas.

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Destination Information

When to go:

Year-round.

When to Get the Best Deals:

September to December.

What to Pack:

5 mm wetsuit with hood in summer; 7 mm wetsuit (or dry suit) in winter with hood and gloves, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, comfortable shoes that can get wet for hiking, DAN card, long sleeved lightweight shirts, long trousers for cool nights, a light jacket for cool evenings, attire for heading out for the night, especially in hot tourist areas, small medical kit.

Water Temperatures:

Seasonal averages: 13°C/55°F in winter and 24°C/75°F in summer.

Air Temperatures:

Seasonal averages: 21°C/69°F in winter and 30°C/86°F in summer.

Currency:

Turkish Lira (TL). Credit cards are widely accepted.

Visa/Passport Requirements:

Valid passport; check with local immigration office for visa requirements.

Departure Tax:

Included in your airfare.

Immunizations:

None required .

What to Eat:

Locally grown fruits and vegetables and freshly caught seafood provide for good dining choice along the Turkish coast. Start with a variety of meze (appetizers) including patlican salatasi (eggplant dip), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), and fried eggplant. Then go on to kebaps - lamb being popular, but chicken, fish and vegetables kebaps also available. Definitely try a variety of grilled fish or fried mussels.

What to Drink:

Tea (cay) is the most common drink in Turkey and widely offered as a friendly, social gesture. Raki (anise-flavored liqueur) is the national alcoholic beverage. Turkey produces great wine and has a few widely distributed local beers - with Efes being the best known.

Top Adventures/Shopping/Culture:

Cruise the mosques, bazaars, markets and linger by the calm waters of the Bosphorus; to see an authentic Ottoman town, visit Safranbolu; for Roman adventures, visit the Pergamum or Ephesus; to see a true natural wonder, go to the Pamukkale, which looks like a limestone castle of carbonite. Each level is its own pool.

Customs and Culture:

Despite being a hotbed for wars, conflicts and a history that has rarely sat still, Turkey has retained its national identity, cuisine and passion for simple pleasures from family and food to enjoying life.

Top Festivals/Events:

Ankara Music Festival, September; Kadirga Festival and the Edirne Kakava Festival, May.

Electricity and Internet:

220V/50HZ; Internet is common throughout country.

Drink the water?

Only drink bottled water.

Language:

Turkish. English is widely spoken. German may be spoken in tourist areas.

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Amazing Marine Life

Barracuda:

These predatory fish are often seen on the reefs.

Bottlenose Dolphin:

This playful "little cousin" to the whales is usually found cavorting with a group (or pod) in open water, sometimes swimming alongside dive boats.

Moray Eel:

Most often found in holes, caves, and wrecks, moray eels sometimes venture out so divers can see their entire snakelike length.

Octopus:

Wily and secretive, the octopus is often found in holes and crannies of reefs and wrecks.

Bream:

These ubiquitous fish will be seen on almost every dive.

Conger Eel:

Found throughout the Mediterranean, this eel is commonly sighted in this region.

Stingray:

These rays can be found on sandy bottoms, but can also be seen swimming around the reefs.

Cowrie:

While its shell is a common component of island jewelry, the cowrie in its native habitat is somehow even more decorative. Growing sometimes to fist-sized proportions, the smooth shell of these mollusks is often brown dappled with white, and it can often be found in holes of a reef.

Nudibranchs:

Most reefs harbor these colorful sea slugs.

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Top Dive Spots

Heybeli Island:

A group of large rocks have been adopted as home to many fish and invertebrates. Ancient amphora, thought to be around 2000 years old, can be seen partly buried in the sea bed. Further along, at the southern end of the island, a small wall can be found at 18 meters/60 feet, where divers can see stingrays, grouper, schooling European barracuda, sea bream, rainbow wrasse and damselfish.

Heybeli Reef:

An abundance of macro fauna exists here, with an impressive wall where vast numbers of dusky and white grouper mix with leerfish. Towards the top of the reef at the end of the summer, mackerel dart among huge shoals of sardines providing relaxing viewing on shallower dives and safety stops.

Panorama Reef:

A favorite with macro photographers, this reef sometimes offers sightings of dolphins or the occasional blue shark.

Pegeon Island:

An underwater art exhibition is the highlight of this sight, but divers shouldn't ignore the octopus, moray eels, brasses, soldierfishes, jacks, triggerfish, grouper, and 2,000-year-old amorpha on the seafloor.

Flying Fish:

Technical divers can descend 45 meters/150 feet to the wreck of a World War II Italian torpedo bomber (airplane). At shallow depths, divers can see barracuda, snails, stingrays, octopus, moray eels, brasses, jacks, triggerfish and grouper.

Paradise Reef and Mavi Wreck:

Look for soldierfish, stingrays, snails, octopus, moray eels, jacks, and grouper.

Fener Kulesi:

Explore a 150-year-old wooden Ottoman boat resting in 24 meters/80 feet of water, with ancient pots still scattered around it on the seafloor. Octopus and a big grouper are always there waiting for experienced and inexperienced divers.

Lobster Point:

This rocky reef boasts many well-preserved ancient artifacts and old anchors.

Sariot Adasi-Duvar:

This drop-off, beneath a plateau with bizarre rock formations is overgrown with anemones and feather stars.

Eel Cove:

Eels everywhere! You may also see large snails and squid, even during the day.

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