Turkey is a land of beaches: The Anatolian Peninsula’s south touches the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea rests to the west, and the Black Sea borders Turkey’s north. Each region has its own stunning landscape, often accented by jagged cliffsides that meet roaring waves. But the sandy shores of the Black Sea north of Istanbul are a much calmer landscape; water slowly laps up against the beach as folks take a break from the bustling megalopolis.
There is a good crowd going: families lounging under umbrellas, young women splayed out on bright towels, couples flirting and splashing in the calm water, and just a smattering of tourists visiting before high season. For many Turks, however, beach season won’t really kick off until after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year runs mid-June to mid-July. That’s because the vast majority of people in Turkey are Muslim, and many are spending their sacred-month days focused on abstaining from eating, drinking, bad language, and sex. Even some women who don’t keep the fast do prefer to stick to Islamic guidelines of modesty (some wear variations of the headscarf, while others simply don’t show much skin), either because of personal beliefs or pressure from their communities, or to evade unwanted attention. Not all women feel this way, though, and the diversity in views is exemplified on this public beach north of Istanbul.