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I've just come back from a fortnight's diving in North Cyprus with my other half, Gerry.  Cyprus isn't reknowned for its dive sites - last year the sealife was exact thriving - but this year we noticed a huge increase in the variety and number of species we found beneath the waves.

There are still far too many natives with their spear guns, slowly wiping out the abundance of grouper which is a real shame.

We dived with Amphora Diving which is located at Escape Beach, just a little outside Karaoglanoglu and about 15 minutes from Kyrenia Harbour.  We both managed to squeeze in 18 dives, most of which were from the centre's rib, apart from the night dive which was from the shore.  We also completed our deep and boat diver specialities.  Here are the sites we dived!

Escape Beach:
This is the shore dive we did.  It is mainly used a the training ground as the max depth is around 7-8m.  It's really easy to navigate as the dive takes you around an island and back to the shore.  We did a bit of a tune up here as well as a night dive where we saw lots of small pulsating jellyfish and lots of fireworms crawling across the rocks.  being my first night dive, I was more fascinated by the sight of 8 torches eerily following me...

Paradise/The Wall/Zepheros:
This was where the real action was!  I've grouped these three sites together as they all lead into one another and it's easier to talk about everything in one go!

It was a little like swimming in a huge aquarium beneath the sea - we found ourselves enveloped in blotched pickerelle (not sure of the spelling, but they were small silver/blue fish with a distinctive black blotch on their sides and John, our dive leader, had not seen them out there before).  We also encountered a huge tuna, easily around 4-5ft in length, which actually circled us for most of one dive.  A stingray swam beneath us before darting off into the distance, an octopus winked at us from his hiding place in a rock and a moray eel gave us a big toothy grin for the camera!  There is a huge (15kg?) grouper who lives down here at about 34m (the vis was so good that you could actually see him from the boat!) and we were lucky enough to spot him lurking outside his home in the rocks on more than one occasion.

Zeyko:
Each time we dived Zeyko (which was the most common afternoon dive site!) a cry of "not again" could be heard echoing around the dive centre!!  That said, it's as beautiful a site as the others and a perfect training ground.  A flat reef at 18m with a drop off around 30m, the current across the top of the reef was perfect for bringing you right back to the line at the end of the dive.  There wasn't so much life here but we still encountered a variety of large groupers and another octopus hiding on top of the reef.

Fred:
This site is located just outside Kyrenia Harbour and is a series of three flat reefs.  It is a favourite place for fish feeding amongst divers and it was truly amazing.  John, sensibly equipped with industrial thickness gloves, was soon surrounded by an array of different sized grouper when he produced the food.  A huge octopus also made an almost-appearance from his hiding place and had some food too.  It was really good fun and I only wish my air consumption allowed me to stay down there for another hour or so!

Wreck site:
OK, so there isn't actually a wreck here, it's in the museum, but it is the site from which the wreck was excavated.  The wreck itself is around 2600 years old (I believe it's the oldest wreck in the world) and there are still remnants of its cargo of amphora on the sea bed at around 30m.  We even found a small octopus living inside a broken amphora jug!  Again, lots of blotched pickerelle and grouper as well as beautiful rust-coloured starfish draping themselves across the rocks.

As I said, it's not the greatest diving in the world, but you couldn't ask for better conditions - 30m+ vis on every dive, a water temp of 28 degrees (although the thermocline at 16m did take this down to 19 about degrees) and great dive leaders too.  I'd thoroughly recommend it if you fancy something different and definitely give Amphora Diving a go - great instructors and a great free-diving boat man who occasionally popped down to see us as we were on our ascent (not at all surreal!!).
 

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Hows steve and john?
glad you had a good time but now your back and we are off on 21 Aug!!!!!!!!!!!!
Did you visit the dancing chicken bar? I,v still got a hangover from the last time we went there.

nigel
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (nigel @ July 18 2003,16:23)]Hows steve and john?
glad you had a good time but now your back and we are off on 21 Aug!!!!!!!!!!!!
Did you visit the dancing chicken bar? I,v still got a hangover from the last time we went there.

nigel
Hi Nigel,

Steve and John are both really well.  Steve has a new girlfriend (of five months) and she is lovely.

Yes, we went to the dancing chicken bar which now has an actually building as part of it!!  (You'll see what i mean when you get there).  We also had a full on 15-strong last night meal/booze up at Dunya restaurant which was yummy.

How long are you going for?  I am very jealous but we are planning to go back out for a week or so in November as Steve's girlfriend is a proper concert pianist and is doing a concert at Bellapais (and also I have managed to blag three months off work!!!!!).

Lesley
 
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