In the Aegean's depths, a few miles offshore from the picturesque town of Ayvalik is a hidden paradise. Only divers can explore this world of colorful marine creatures and plants, the yellow, orange, pink and red corals and sponges, and myriad fish species. Ayvalik, the ancient Kydonia , has been home to numerous civilizations since 330 BC. For long centuries, the inhabitants have made a living from fishing, sponge diving, and olive production. Where the sea bed type is concerned, diving points can be divided into two main groups. The first is rock beds, which cover the area along the coasts and around the islands. These pale grey rocks descend to a depth of approximately 15 meters and have no plants or weed on the upper surfaces, but only clumps of yellow sponge and sea urchins. However, the sides and undersides of the rocks are usually a layer of thin red sponge, and holes in the rocks provide homes for diverse creatures, including octopuses, conger eels, shrimps, and tiny crabs less than 1 centimeter in length. Below 15 meters, the bottom is covered with green weed whose ribbon-like fronds are 30 centimeters in length. This continues down to 20 or 30 meters, where there are rocks of gigantic size, sometimes forming sheer walls. These provide a home for a wealth of marine life and are the areas underwater divers enjoy exploring most. The rock's surface is covered with red sponges resembling cacti, and the crevices in the rock are lined with a yellow and red sponge. These crevices are the home of white bream, small goby, cardinalfish, conger eels, moray eels, groupers, Corvina nigra, and so on. In the vicinity of the walls, there is a constant coming and going of shoals of saddled bream, Lichia amia, Mediterranean barracuda, and Epinephelus Aeneas, a relative of the grouper. The sand bed at the rock walls' foot is scattered with rocks, in whose crevices live lobster, scampi, hermit crabs, and other crustaceans. The second category of diving points that I recommend is the shallows and reefs of the Gulf of Edremit to the north. Here outcrops of rock rising from the seabed at 50-60 meters form abrupt shallows with a depth of just 20-30 meters. These reefs are generally flat-topped, and some near Ayvalik have names, such as the Deli (Mad) Mehmet I and II and the Kerbela. At Kerbela Shallows, named after the battle in which Huseyin, the son of Ali, was killed, the sea is usually rough with strong currents and the weather windy, making it difficult to anchor here for deep-sea diving. These soft corals are also found around the Marmara Islands and near Antalya, but only at much greater depths of over 50 meters. The rocks are covered with crimson and vivid yellow corals like a brilliantly decorated fan at these diving points. These soft corals are also found around the Marmara Islands and near Antalya, but only at much greater depths of over 50 meters. Kerbela Shallows covers over 500 square meters and varies in depth from 30 to 50 meters. Divers at Kerbela must strictly comply with the regulations of deep-sea diving. If you dive with a diving company, then there are no formalities involved. However, if you wish to dive at points outside the areas permitted for recreational diving, you must apply it to the authorities plenty of time in advance. Most of the marine fish species native to the Aegean are found at Ayvalik, and this diversity is one of the primary attractions of the area for divers. Over the past decade, Ayvalik has become an increasingly popular diving destination. The colorful and mysterious alternative world beneath the surface of that sapphire sea holds a fascination that no diver can resist. Planning a trip to Turkey’s Aegean coast? Check this Turkey guide for more details.