7 Mediterranean Diving Secrets
Summer is approaching and a lot of Europe's destinations are often overlooked when divers book their holiday. Here's a list of the Mediterranean's best kept secrets...
Beirut Marina, Lebanon
The waters of Beirut play host to a mysterious and beautiful gathering of small tooth sand tiger sharks at 'Shark Point' during their yearly migration from July to August. Home to small tooth sand tigers and grey nurse sharks, divers visit Beirut in order to catch some of the Mediterranean's larger fauna. However, it is also the wrecks of Beirut Marina that amaze. It is home to one of the best preserved World War Two wrecks, Le Souffler a french shark-type submarine sunk by the British in 1941. The sub is a huge wreck at 37 metres where it is not unusual to see large sting rays, eagle rays, morays and groupers.
With a nearly non-existent fishing industry, the waters of the Saranda municipality of Albania are home to abundant fish species. Bright shallow coastlines and colourful sponge fields give way to underwater cliffs and pockets of caves, the perfect habitat for octopus and langusts. However, the beauty of Saranda is also hidden in its deep fresh water dives such as the 'Blue Eye', a deep well from which bubbles a turquoise river. Technical divers can explore the hole at depths of up to 50 metres, the true depth of the 'Blue Eye' still remains a mystery.
The Croatian Adriatic peninsular constitutes a network of over one thousand islands, reefs, rocks and isles which often makes it a favourite for mediterranean divers. An especially stunning area, however, is the water around the island of Premuda. Here, the experienced diver can find deep World War I and World War II wrecks as well as the 'Katedrala' or Cathedral cave system, where light shards penetrate vaulted ceilings like stained glass windows. In the plateau above the caves octopuses, spider crabs and rainbow wrasse give way to colourful sponges and corals in the deeper caves.
Renowned for its caves and tunnels, Cala Monjo in Mallorca hosts vast swathes of seagrass meadows before descending into wide tunnels at depths of only twenty metres. Through the cave, divers can expect to see giant nudibranchs, cardinal fish, swallowtail seaperches and several species of seahorses. Diving in Mallorca is best between June and October when the surface and water temperatures are warmer and visibility can reach as much as 40 metres.
Corsica has some of the cleanest and calmest waters in the Mediterranean, giving divers some of the clearest visibility. The Levezzi Marine Reserve is abundant in marine life with depths ranging from 60-70 metres and a visibility of 30 metres. Strong currents provide perfect conditions for eagle rays and barracuda as well as gorgonian fans, yellow sponges and golden sea daisies. The breath-taking rock formations, underwater mountains, canyons and needles provide a magnificent backdrop for Corsica's magnificent flora and fauna.
The Aegean coastline offers the best diving for what is still an emerging industry in Turkey. With warm and clear waters, Kas is a tranquil dive rich in wildlife and reefs, drop offs, caves and wrecks to explore. Divers can expect to see hawksbill turtles, moray eels, octopus, amberjack, bream, garfish, nudibranchs and different species of rays. For the wreck-crazy, there is an eery Italian Bomber Plane with algae encrusted propellers at a depth between 60 and 70 metres which is now home to many moray eels.
Medes islands, Spain
The underwater wonders of the Medes Islands are very close to shore and at shallower depths than most. Declared as a protected marine reserve in 1983, the ecosystems here have been allowed to flourish and become some of the most bio diverse in Europe. Dolphin Cave is a enormous and cavernous formation, riddled with smaller windows and vertical chimneys. Alongside meadows of seagrass - a favourite breeding site for groupers - other sites include deep cliffs covered in a colourful array of sea fans, home to school of sardines, anchovies and larger predators such as barracuda, bass and bonito.