Planning a family holiday to Alanya in Southern Turkey, I was not entirely sure I would get to dive at all on this trip. While being a popular tourist destination, Alanya is not exactly on the "top ten places to dive"-list. Anyway, that’s where we had decided we were going, so I’d have to make the most of it. I’d dive there no matter what!View from Cleopatra Beach. If you look closely, you can see a dive boat parked in front of Phosphorus Cave.
As it turns out, there are plenty of dive centres in and around Alanya. I was warned in advance, however, that many of them are at best somewhat unreliable, at worst totally unsafe for the customer. After careful search and countless e-mails, I booked dives with two centres that seemed to have a good reputation, Scuba Turtle-Diving School in Incekum, and Dolphin Dive right in the centre of Alanya.
On the morning of my first day of diving, a nice bloke from Scuba Turtle picked me up from the hotel and we headed on the motorway west towards Incekum and my first dives. The drive took about twenty minutes. The dive centre is a small cabana-style hut right on the beach of Pegasos Club hotel. There I met my dive guide for the day, Kamil. He seemed like a nice, easy going man. He is the owner of Scuba Turtle together with his wife Anna.Ready to dive!There was only one other diver diving that day, so it’d just be the three of us: Kamil, the guide, a young Russian guy, and me with my camera. The dive sites were very close to shore, so the boat trip in a small dinghy only took a few minutes. The dives were quite shallow, the visibility was good, water was warm enough, and there was no current. The rented gear seemed almost brand new and in good condition.
In the summertime, it is possible to see turtles and dolphins right at the hotel beach. This time, since we were diving in early May, they weren’t around and we had to settle for some small fish and some quite spectacular underwater rock formations.
The next day, I went diving with Dolphin Dive. It is one of the largest dive centres in Alanya, and the difference between it and the tiny, family-run operation that is Scuba Turtle, was like night and day.
We set off on a large boat, packed full of divers and snorkellers. The boat ride did not take long, and we got into our dive gear on the way. As we got ready for the first dive, I noticed a small, hissing leak on my inflator’s quick release valve. The guide told me simply that the leak is so small that it doesn’t matter. I was not completely happy with that, but the dives went fine, and no problems occurred.
The first site was a wreck of a small coast guard boat that has been purposely sunk for tourists at about twenty meters. We were down at the bottom for about ten minutes, went quickly round the little boat and had a look at some amphoras that had been scattered around the artificial wreck. The total dive time for this dive was just over half an hour. Outside Phosphorus Cave.
After the first dive, we had lunch on the boat and a two hour surface interval. The next dive would be in Phosphorus Cave, one of many caves in the area. The cave itself was quite small, we dived in and out of it in just a few minutes. After seeing the cave, we were guided around the rocky bottom with not really much to see. Right at the end of the dive we spotted a large turtle in the distance! That was a magnificent sight, and made the dives worth while! Here’s more on turtles in Turkey in my earlier post.
Admittedly, Alanya (and I suppose most of Eastern Mediterranean for that matter) hardly compares with the coral reefs you get tropical dive destinations. And you really, reallyhave to be careful who you book your dives with. But there are things to see, people to meet and places to go underwater no matter where you dive. You always get new experiences diving in a new place. The important thing is to keep diving!