Scuba Diving in Bodrum
Bodrum appears on the scuba diving world map for a number of reasons, the primary one being the excellent Museum of Underwater Archaeology found in the symbol of Bodrum – the Bodrum Castle. Inside the mighty medieval walls are exhibition halls and gardens displaying the finds from the ancient shipwrecks excavated by international archaeological teams along the Turkish SouthWest coast.
In the early adventuring days of those pioneering excavations, Bodrum was a natural base as it still had the experience, equipment and knowledge of the traditional sponge divers. As the Fisheries Research Institute became established, it too contributed new expertise and most importantly – a hyperbaric or decompression chamber ( now at the State Hospital) , to Bodrum’s claim to being a diving centre.
As tourism grew in Bodrum , the startling clear waters of the seas around it attracted the sports divers and enthusiasts who came to dive just for fun. At the same time – in the 80’s, the military restrictions on diving areas eased, and diving companies were set up to cater for the new explorers of the underwater world.
Scuba diving is growing world-wide and so are the organisations that provide the training and certification that allows a diver’s level to be recognised anywhere, those organisations eg PADI or CMAS also certify the dive companies themselves so a would-be diver knows where to start looking for a trained level of service.
There are about 20 dive companies/ boats operating around Bodrum peninsula this year, with at least 11 Dive companies for Bodrum listed on the PADI website at www.padi.com , and others are linked with CMAS, BSAC etc, but they all must be registered with the Turkish authority- the Underwater Sports, Life Guarding and Water Ski Federation.
So where do you start?
Here are the answers to all the questions you were afraid to ask about scuba-diving!
Q: What do I have to bring?
A: As a beginner, all you need is your swimming gear, ie towel, bathers, sun-protection hat/cream and some money for drinks on board. Just like a boat trip in fact! All the actual equipment is supplied by the dive company, but if you are snorkeller – bring that gear along as it is always more comfortable to use your own mask.
Q: I am afraid!( but curious to try)
A: A little bit of fear is natural and leads to a cautious start- not a bad thing in adventure sport where safety has to be considered. You can start slowly by trying out the equipment and breathing sensations in a free pool try-dive, then join the boat for a day as a Discovery Diver for the introduction to the sea. Don’t be afraid to take it at your pace!
Q: I am quite heavy- how will you get me underwater? And once there- how will you get me up?!
A: One of the main skills in scuba-diving is learning your own buoyancy which is not directly related to size. It is achieved by adjusting the amount of lead weights carried, against the inflation of your buoyancy jacket, for beginners this is worked out for you. So yes- you can go underwater – and re-surface!
Q: I am 70 but in good health- can I dive?
A: In general yes .Every would–be diver is asked for any history of health problems or operations. If you are uncertain the dive company can refer you to a local doctor for a health check specifically for diving.
Q: Is there anything to see underwater?
A: In the Bodrum diving areas , the water is wonderfully clear with visibility up to 30m at times. You will see schools of fish, sponges and other sea life, interesting rock and cliff patterns, and for the experienced divers there are the rock reefs, a cave, and the deep ‘walls’. Certainly it is not the Red Sea or the Great Barrier Reef, but for enjoyable relaxing diving the Bodrum underwater sights are in a class of their own.
Q: Are there any sharks around?
A: It would be an exciting day for a diver to spot a big fish, let alone a shark in these waters, but the small shy Mediterranean sharks are rarely seen, and are no threat.
Q: Is diving dangerous?
A: Diving is an adventure sport, and as such carries an element of risk. However in a properly managed company with regularly tested equipment, with dive leaders giving clear instructions to student divers which are followed, then it can be one of the safest adventure sports to enjoy.
Q: What can my partner/ child/ friends do while I learn to dive? They don’t want to learn.
A: Most diving days are from a boat so non-divers are usually very welcome on the boat, and they can swim, sunbake, snorkel, have lunch and have the added entertainment of watching the diving. They may even decide to try it. They will at least know more about what you are enjoying.
Q: How cold is the water?
A: The surface water temperature varies through the year, with winter temperatures being around 19C, and the late summer temperature can be up to 27C. Deeper temperatures depend on circulation and depth of water. If you think you will feel cold there are full wetsuits with hoods and gloves available!
Q:What does a Discovery Diving Day include?
A: A Discovery Diving Day usually includes the use of all the standard equipment such as wetsuit, mask, fins, a tank, weight belt, buoyancy vest and regulator. There will be an introduction to the basic concepts of diving on board, instruction/pratice in the use of the equipment, then a full equipment dive with a diveleader beside you. Being on a boat there will be time for a sunbathe, lunch and a swim too!
Ask the dive company / exactly what is included, usually the price is around 45€
Q: My children want to go diving, but I am afraid they are too young/ too small. What is the right age to start?
A: If your child is of an average size, confident in the water and can swim, then 12 years old is the generally recommended age for starting to learn to dive. PADI has a Junior Certificate programme for children between 12-16 years so they can actually learn diving in a safe, responsible way. Beware parents! –like children learning to snow-ski, they usually become better than you!
Q: I want to do a PADI/CMAS Certificate course. What is the procedure?
A: Now that you have decided to learn to dive, allow 4- 5 days for the full Open Water Diver course. Ask your holiday company, or check with Dive companies to see if there is a particular day that courses start- it’s alway more fun doing it as a small group. Book with the dive company as soon as possible. Before starting it is best that you read the paperwork- the health declaration and disclaimers, and start reading your dive manual to understand the theory of what you are about to learn. Each full day out with the instructor will comprise ‘classroom’ lessons, audiovisuals, practical demonstrations and hands-on practice with equipment and of course time underwater doing exercises, buoyancy practice, and yes- having a lot of fun! There are key concepts and exercises you must master to gain the first level card, and be registered as a ..DIVER! The full card will be your passport to holidaying around the world as a diver, and as a step to further skills- Night dives; Wreck Dives; Underwater photography; Underwater Naturalist; Rescue Diver, Divemaster.. maybe up to Instructor? All you need for a course is your swimming gear and the time. The cost should be checked with the company, but is usually about 275€.