Suvla Bay

Suvla Bay, Gallipoli Peninsula

The notion of swimming in a historic battle site, shallows where men were torn to pieces by machine-gun fire, strikes some as odd, even irreverent. Others think no such thing, regarding such care-free acts of joy as restoring to their proper use the shores of this contested peninsula where hundreds of thousands of men lost their lives or were grievously injured in the campaign of 1915.

It should be of interest to less confident swimmers that the Aegean shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula, where British, French and Anzac forces landed in April 1915, were chosen precisely for their shelving beaches (even if in the chaos the Anzac Corps ended up being put ashore on one of the narrower strips of shingle). That miscalculation explains why the famous Anzac Cove is a great destination for snorkelers, with a local travel agency running daily tours to snorkel over the wrecks sunk here during the campaign.

But for the best of these deserted beaches head north to the little-visited Suvla Bay area where the British attempted a second series of landings in the summer of 1915. The shore road passes Tuz Gölu (Salt Lake) and the cemetery at Hill 10 before winding along an exposed, almost Hebridean shore. Here are more wrecks, their skeletal frames visible in the clear shallows, and fisherman’s shacks and the vast dune-backed and beautiful A Beach. You’ll have it to yourself. Watch out for occasional infestations of jellyfish, especially in the spring.

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