The pandemic has reshuffled the cards when it comes to travel. And in the lot obviously, the diving stays. While we have all just spent long months in lockdown or with a travel ban, some countries are doing well. And even if the situation will eventually return to normal, this allows some destinations closer to us to become better known ! This is the case of Italy, for example, which is bathed in the (almost) warm waters of the Mediterranean, with its many marine reserves and its many islands. This month, TribloO takes you diving in Italy !
Diving in Italy: Sardinia
The 2nd largest island in the Mediterranean has a Caribbean feel… We could say that it is the most tropical of the Mediterranean islands ! At 2h30 flight from Paris, it has some of the most beautiful sea beds of Europe. And in particular in the waters of the marine park of Tavolara e Punta Coda Cavallo or that of the Maddalena ! In Sardinia, you will be able to dive on wrecks, along magnificent colored drop offs, or explore underwater caves… And above all, discover a magnificent panel of Mediterranean fauna as life is so abundant.
In the north, in the creeks of the Emerald Coast, but also on the south coast, you will discover an incredible number of species, sometimes with a quite astonishing density. You will find different types of sponges, stingrays, but also yellow anemones, red gorgonians… And, coming from the sea, barracudas. Large morays, conger eels and other large octopuses are present on a large majority of sites. In Santa Giusta, you will observe big groupers sometimes more than one meter long ! With a bit of luck, you will see tuna while diving, and why not, from the surface, some dolphins !
Diving in Italy in the Aeolian Islands
Italy has the great advantage of having a large number of islands in the Mediterranean. One of the most famous, Sicily, is surmounted by an archipelago of 17 volcanic islands and islets called “Aeolian Islands”. The entire archipelago was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Indeed, two of them have an active volcano, Stromboli and the well-named Vulcano, and two others have a dormant one, Panarea and Lipari. The latter island is, for logistical reasons, the starting point of all your adventures in the archipelago! Diving here benefits from an abundant fauna, a beautiful blue, black sand, volcanic scree… and big groupers ! Lipari concentrates the most sites. Panarea has magnificent coves accessible only by sea. And Finiduci is distinguished by its archaeological relics. As for Vulcano or Stromboli, we do drift dives where bubbles come out of the bottom: when you surface, it is an active volcano that will be the landscape !
The visibility is exceptional, 11 months out of 12 on average ! That’s why the famous movie ‘The Big Blue’ by Luc Besson was shot off the coast of Taormina. The topography is sometimes strange (gentle slope of black sand). Sometimes it is really crazy (pumice stone everywhere on the bottom) but most of the time it is made of big drop-offs. The fauna is rich with groupers, sometimes of incredible size, and morays. Barracudas are also part of the scenery and nudibranchs show an incredible diversity ! Octopuses and cuttlefish are also proudly represented. Apart from that, it is especially by its abundance that this region of the Mediterranean stands out !
La plongée à Ustica
If you want to find the atmosphere of a small Mediterranean village where time seems to have stopped, you will surely love coming to Ustica to dive. This tiny island, located north of Palermo, is quite simply the first Italian marine reserve created in 1986 ! And the show underwater is amazing. In a few dives, you can meet a large part of the Mediterranean species: lobsters, groupers, morays, nudibranchs, barracudas, red gorgonians and so on… The diving sites are suitable for all levels and you will take great pleasure in exploring the drop offs, but also the many caves that open along the cliffs ! Wreck lovers will also be served because there are some wrecks dating from the Second World War. Ustica is also a particular atmosphere, typically Mediterranean, and you will have the joy between dives to taste the local gastronomy that will make you forget your dives for a meal !
Diving on the Italian Riviera in Liguria
Liguria is the region that follows the French Riviera, but on the Italian side and extends a little beyond the city of Genoa. It is also known as the “Italian Riviera”. The area is very well known, in particular by tech divers, thanks to the presence of the largest wreck in the Mediterranean, the Haven oil tanker, which sank in 1991, in the Gulf of Genoa. Lying between 30 and 80 meters deep, it is a very popular playground for trimix and rebreather divers.
But in Liguria there are also many dive sites more accessible to all divers ! We can mention for example the Marine Reserve of the island of Bergeggi or the Marine Reserve of Portofino where you can find a famous underwater statue, the Christ of the Abyss, but also really vertiginous drop offs and many caves !
Diving on Elba Island
Located between the mainland and the north of Corsica, the island of Elba is surrounded by calm waters offering exceptional visibility. There are many dive sites with superb and colorful bottoms: posidonia meadows, drop offs, boulders, caves… in the middle of these landscapes you will find a multitude of species that will delight the divers. Groupers and barracudas are of course present. But you will also have the opportunity to observe seahorses or eagle rays during the summer months !
You can also dive on a very beautiful wreck, the Elviscot, located at a depth of 8 to 12 meters and therefore accessible to all, even snorkelers !
Archaeological dives in Campania
Campania is a region located in the south of Italy, near Naples. Diving is also superb there, and what makes it so attractive is the important ancient ruins that can be found both on land… and under the surface ! In the archaeological park of Baiae, it is possible to dive on the ruins of the submerged city of Baiae, where you can still see many thermal structures, harbors and other remains of Roman villas…
When you come to dive in Italy, you will find some of the most beautiful bottoms in the Mediterranean, and above all some of the most protected in Europe, with numerous marine reserves !