That night the stars crowded close to the earth. As I approached the Gulf of Saros, I leaned out of the open window of the car and listened. The only sound was the chorus of cicadas. In the moonlight, the fields of sunflowers, tall slender reeds, olive trees, and pine forest were all dark blue. We would have to wait for sunrise to see the shimmering waters of the gulf, its surface forming a ceaselessly changing pattern in every shade of blue, from the palest turquoise to the deepest lapis lazuli. Saros at the northeastern extremity of the Aegean is celebrated for its pure turquoise sea, virgin coves where pine woods descend to the sea edge, beautiful sandy beaches perfect for long walks, and above all diving. All these attract visitors during the summer months and at weekends, particularly from Istanbul.
The coast of the gulf is diverse, ranging from sheer cliffs to gently sloping beaches. Throughout the Gulf, the sea is that entrancing turquoise, whether the seabed is sandy or rocky. The shore is covered by pine, pear, acacia and olive trees, and the villages surrounded by fields of sunflowers are tranquil and unspoiled by the building development that mars more famous holiday resorts. Since most of the land around the gulf is under conservation, there are few settlements in the area. The villages of Adilhan, Sazlidere, and Gokcetepe are among the places I can recommend visiting. The road to Canakkale circles around the gulf, and since the Trans-European Motorway opened traveling time from Istanbul has been reduced to three and a half hours. The two coves which form the natural harbor of Ibrice near the village of Mecidiye are ideal for diving. This tiny fishing harbor now has a diving center offering courses, fish restaurants, shops and guesthouses catering for the many people who come here to dive during the summer months in particular.
Among the delicious fish on the restaurant menus are mackerel, sea bream, sea bass, pandora, grey mullet, and red mullet. Between May and September is the time when new divers get their certificates, and Ibrice is the place where almost all of Istanbul’s divers make their first acquaintance with the open sea. The harbor is flanked by high hills on either side and from the eastern hill, you can see both coves, named Kucuk Canak and Buyuk Canak respectively. Both coves have shallow reefs and sand and rock bottoms that in places slope down to a depth of 40 meters. Divers come across large numbers of cuttlefish, octopuses hid amongst the rocks and shoals of saddled bream. The sheer cliffs on the western side of the harbor extend to the headland of Toplaronu, where there are marvelous hidden coves perfect for diving and accessible only by sea.
Around the headland, the water reaches an average depth of 20 meters. On the rocky bottom of the Uc Guzel Cave can be seen CORBA (Corvina nigra), octopuses and spiny lobsters. This area is also ideal for night diving and training.
One of the best places for boat diving is Kiremitlik, where from sandy shallows at two meters the seabed plunges in a sheer rock wall to a depth of 40 meters. Here you come face-to-face with conga eels, groupers, spiny lobsters and very occasionally lobsters hiding in the rocks.
Since the Suez Canal reopened and ships from the Red Sea began emptying their bilge water into the Mediterranean, sea creatures and plants from the Red Sea have begun to appear in Saros, and divers have become used to fresh surprises at every dive. Apart from the typical species of these waters, tuna fish are occasionally to be found. Incekum Beach along the west shore of Ibrice is perfect for those who come here just to enjoy the sea and sand. There are a motel and guest houses in the nearby village of Erikli, and in the town of Kesan 20 minutes drive away are three-star hotels. Dirt tracks from Ibrice Liman lead to the pine-wooded bay of Deli Liman, where there is a camping site. Many divers prefer to stay here and enjoy evenings around campfires to the music of guitars, the magnificent sunset over the bay, and after dark the full splendor of the Milky Way, undiminished by light pollution. The first time we camped here we thought there was a firework display, but it turned out to be a shower of shooting stars!
The Gulf of Saros, with its shimmering turquoise sea and abundant fish, is a never-ending source of delight which no one should miss seeing and experiencing.