With aquatic life, wonderful colours and wrecks aplenty, Bodrum in Turkey is a diver's paradise. For a truly deep experience, explore this Aegean treasure with the Marine Centre at Mandarin Oriental
Clear aquamarine waters, calm, sheltered bays, diverse marine life and mysterious ancient wrecks make Bodrum one of the most desirable and intriguing diving destinations on the globe.
A Paradise Bay cove
Located high up on the cliffs, overlooking the aptly-named Paradise Bay, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum is well placed for adventures in the deep, offering professional tuition and guides to lead you through the extraordinary underwater world. Just a short boat ride along the coastline takes you to the most popular of Bodrum's diving spots: Black Island.
'The Underwater Photography World Championships took place here in 2011 because the water is so clear. In the summer, visibility reaches 50 metres,' says manager of the Marine Centre at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum. 'With three wrecks to explore, as well as wonderful flora and fauna, Black Island is always the favourite.'
Intriguing archaeological pieces can also be found lying eerily on the sea floor on the northern side of the island, which enhance the diving experience and now serve as repurposed houses to the impressive range of aquatic life. Gutsy divers can wriggle their way into the gloomy bows of the old coastguard boat wreck SG 115, or the captain's wheel house of the Turkish Navy's Pinar 1, where you can also discover squid eggs latched onto the ship's hull, while the C-47 Dakota airplane wreck is the makeshift play park for shoals of especially large groupers.
There's plenty for newer divers, too. The warm water, gentle currents and general lack of dangerous sharks make it a safer sea than others to negotiate, and small coves offer enclosed learning spaces. At the far end of Black Island, Kacakci Cove promises particularly pleasant conditions to splash around in and has a shallow, albeit narrow-entranced, cave that runs 40 to 50 metres inside the island. Big Reef is also an excellent spot for all abilities and famed for the silver, knife-like barracudas that patrol the reef's wall for prey.
The ship wreck Pinar 1
The Amphora Fields stretch, an extensive natural memorial site strewn with ancient amphora vessels that were used to carry goods on ships around 3,000 years ago, makes for another fascinating swim. As boats sailed in and out of Bodrum, once a major trading post, the vessels were lost or discarded overboard, and while most of the Roman artefacts were shattered by the heavy impact, others have been extraordinarily well preserved.
If you're planning to make a day of it, Orak Island is well worth the hour-and-a-half boat journey from Bodrum. Although the fish are sparser in these waters, you might be lucky enough to encounter thornback rays and giant lobsters along the underwater wall, as well as a cave bursting with bright purple sponges.
One of the pools at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum
Finish your day at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum. After a long day at sea, nothing beats a soothing treatment with Aegean oils and fragrances. Then you can reflect on the day's adventures with a cocktail on the terrace of the hotel's Mandarin Bar as the sun sinks slowly beneath the waves.