After the problems we had with last year’s club holiday the 2011 trip was faced with some concern. Last year we faced cancelled trips, changed venues, volcanoes, changed dates and huge variations in numbers – all dealt with superbly by Emma and the girls at Holsworthy travel. This year we decided to go back to Turkey, last time around we dived with Elite Diving Academy when they were based in a small village just outside of Bodrum. This time around they’ve moved to Fethiye, changed their name to Elite Diving Centre but still offer the same approach to diving – safe and looked after.

Holsworthy Travel arranged for 12 of us to travel to Turkey via Easy Jet from Bristol. This year we had no car parking or volcano issues and both the booking and flight went off without a hitch. Emma is great at sorting out off the wall trips and worth a call if you’re thinking of planning diving or non diving trips some place.

Due to the numbers of us the local shuttle transfers seemed a tad expensive so Elite arranged one for us. It turned out that the ex chief of Police retired, bought a bus and now drives people about, needless to say we had no issues getting out, or back in, to the airport and the transfer seemed quite quick

We were booked into The Hotel Villa Daffodil - -:: Villa Daffodil ::-. We found the hotel clean and tidy. We stayed on a B+B basis, breakfast was breads, hams, toast, boiled eggs and a range of jams, yogurts and honey. Some mornings there was scrambled eggs and the last weekend cooked bacon and eggs (although these were at a cost so we didn’t partake). The food was good and set us up nicely for the days diving. The area was safe to walk and had plenty to go and see. The town’s food varied from local to KFC and from very cheap to cheap.

The hotel bar never closed and measures were plenty full. The evening meal we did have was ok, but not as good as the local sea front bars. We also had to discuss the bill at check out. The night bar took no cash and allocated all drinks to the room. We had some very odd drinks orders, as did most of the rooms but a quick chat soon took these off the bills as well as the salads and starters supplied but not ordered at the evening meal.

We arranged 5 days diving with Elite (Elite Diving Centre Fethiye- PADI-TSSF-BSAC). One of the group managed to slip in an extra day. The centre is ran an English lass called Kerrie and her Turkish husband. They employ a range of local and British staff and seem to get them to work together well – they also know how to make a great cup of tea and are trained well enough to have the kettle on first thing you arrive

The dive sites can be found here (Dive Sites) so I don’t see there’s much point in detailing too much of the venue. Elite’s boat is nice and simple to use with a central hanging rail and side benches. A sun deck on the top and bow supplement the galley and sea head. The boat staff are interesting to say the least. What they do manage well however is to cook a great lunch. We ate so well the 2nd dive was often accompanied with extra lead.

Dive briefs were well managed and safety divers were in attendance on all dives, our group ranged from members carrying out a PADI referral to BSAC Advanced and professional divers. This led to the centre having to try and look after all our skill levels, this they managed well with a range of sites that catered for all of us. The Advanced members did have a habit of staying well beyond the brief length but again the centre coped well.

We found the area to be fairly colourless, which was a bit of a disappointment. The caves and arches had the colour but due to their depth we had to persuade the guide to hang around there longer than usual ( you try moving 5 DLs and Ads when they don’t want to move )

The sea was between 18 and 20 degrees depending on depth with the fresh water cave down at 13. Most of us were in 5mm and found this ideal, especially as the air temperature was so warm between dives.

Because of the temperature there was little large life on the sites. Aquirium Reef had the most to see and find, coupled with a large drop off and big boulders to look around in it was the venue of choice. However we all enjoyed the diving and plenty of pictures were taken.

The hotel was opposite a boat yard, this was a great place to sit and watch the world go past, the café was the cheapest by far and the boats they were building superb. The best bit was you were able to wonder around and watch all the things you’d be locked up for over here.

All were build from the keel up by hand, saw mills were in every shed and the sheds were built around the boats as they grew – and grow some did.

In summary the trip was fun, the town had plenty of eateries and market stalls. There was plenty of non diving opportunities and the hotel clean and tidy. The diving centre was very safely ran and very accommodating to a mixed group. They can run PADI and BSAC courses and are more than happy to run a programme that suits.

Would I take a trip there again – probably not as there isn’t enough life for when we have to go – an artificial reef that is due this year (a retire CG cutter) will help.

I would however drop in for a dive or 3 if I end up there with the family and I would run a training camp there as the water was warm and clean, the boat and food good and the staff great fun
Next year we’re off to Hurgada so it’s back to Holsworthy Travel to see what they can do for us this time.