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Stormrider Guide to surfing Southwest Black Sea

Turkey, EUROPE

Kalesi Reef, Yep


+ Two different swell directions - Inconsistent, short-lived swells
+ No tides - Gutless small waves
+ Totally virgin - Cold and wet winter climate
+ Scenic coastal road - Lack of tourist infrastructure

The Black Sea is encircled by Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Turkey, with Istanbul straddling the narrow Bosphorus strait and therefore both the continents of Europe and Asia. There’s a huge contrast between this bustling capital city and the rural Turkish coastline, where along the ‘Kara Deniz’ coastline, most families own just a tractor, and the roads are almost entirely clear. Turkey is one of the few surfing destinations where you actually surf in semi-fresh water, which greatly reduces buoyancy. Saltwater comes from the Mediterranean via the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, whilst freshwater pours in from the bordering countries. Like bore-riders and lake surfers the world over, adjust your board accordingly. The winding coastal road from Erikli to Sinop reveals vast potential for untouched, empty waves.

When to Go

Over its 1200km width, the Black Sea is hit by strong winter storms with a number of different fetches and a prevailing NW wind topped up by a good dose of NE days.. This stretch of coast receives 3-6ft swells during the storms, with 1-3ft clean surf in their aftermath. October through to March is the best season, but early winter has the mildest water temperatures. 2cm tides!

Surf Spots

Near the town of Igneada, Erikli is one of the better waves in the Thrace region, a shallow rivermouth bar with short, thick rights and longer lefts. Both Port Kiyikoy and the long beach of Kastro are exposed to all swells with E in them and have rivermouths to sculpt some better sandbars. Across the Bosphorus are a few messy breaks round Sile and Cebeci, but consistency and size improve a long way east at Bockoi Plaji, a large beach with multiple set-ups. Located near an ancient Zeus Temple and the village of Kapisutu, this is a regional hotspot. A right point next to a longer rivermouth right sheltered by a grey granite cliff, plus a punchy beachbreak in the middle of the bay and good lefts on the west side of the cove. Rivermouth Jetties in Cide offer black sand beachbreak and NE wind protection. Yali Restaurant in Cayyaka offers short dumpy beachbreak and potential for a right pointbreak. Hardi is a long lefthand pointbreak with several sections that needs a NNW swell to fire. A NE swell can see rights sweep past the rivermouth. A string of right points with rivermouths leads to Hotel Touristik, another righthand pointbreak with three distinctive sections. Big NNW swell should line up, while NE shoulders off. Crane Beach in Ayancik is an exposed cobblestone headland with a few rocks. Decent lefthander with 2 sections in W-NW swells. Excellent left pointbreak at Oluza River with 2-3 sections next to rivermouth. Boat Shed is a swell-puller that closes-out easily in a scenic cove with a single boat shed. A righthander breaks off a reef near the eastern headland. Farmland, a fast, ledgy right most suited to bodyboarding, is accessible via a dirt track. There’s also a long beach with a quality peak in the corner sheltered from N winds. Inaccessible cliffs lead around to Sinop, where the left reefbreak at Kalesi Plaji was entombed by a harbour, but beach peaks break beside the wall to the west. New breakwalls have killed the lefts of Kalesi Reef but the easternmost reef is unaffected with scattered peaks on the outer reefs in bigger swells. Visible from main road 2km west of Gerze, a cobble reef off the headland holds decent rights and lefts depending on swell angle, with pebble beachbreak on either side.


dominant swell NW -NE NW -NE NW -NE NW -NE NW -NE NW -NE
swell size (ft) 3 2-3 2 1-2 2-3 3
consistency (%) 20 7 2 2 10 21
dominant wind W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW
average force F4 F4 F4 F4 F4 F4
consistency (%) 51 59 62 38 46 55
water temp (C) 7 9 17 24 20 13
wetsuit 5/4 5/4 3/2 boardshorts springsuit 4/3

Travel Information

Turkey gets extreme variations of temperature. The Black Sea coast receives the greatest amount of rainfall and is wetter in winter than summer and becomes more severe the further east you go. Because of a steep mountainous coastline, sun exposure can be very different from one spot to another. Temps get chilly in winter down to 5-15°C (41-59ºF), whilst the weather can be pleasantly warm from 15-25°C (59-77ºF) in summer. Transition months (Oct-Nov, April-May) are probably the best months to visit. There is snow on interior roads from Nov to April. Water gets down to 6-7°C (43-45ºF), especially close to rivermouths. Take a 5mm fullsuit, boots, hood and gloves.

Lodging and Food
The best hotels in coastal towns won’t cost more than $40, like Sinop Antik Otel. Staying in minor seaside resorts off-season will be a problem, with only cheap basic rooms to rent. Food is rich and varied, and everyone drinks tea. Expect to pay $10 for a meal. Beer is for sale in Tekel shops. Avoid Ramadan time.

Nature and Culture
Beautiful coastline between Amasra and Sinop. Go snowboarding in nearby Kartalkaya, Uludag or Ilgaz. Towns like Safranbolu or Amasra have a great feel to them, and Istanbul is a trip of its own. Try ferryboat rides in Yalova or Bandirma and visit the Prince’s islands.