The Mediterranean is one of the most-travelled regions on the globe. Rightly so, because it’s absolutely amazing! The scenic coastlines, the delicious food, the luxurious beaches, and the relaxed nature of life just call out “perfect holiday spot” to anyone looking for a peaceful getaway. However, all of that stuff is above sea level. What’s even more fantastic; the many islands of the Mediterranean Sea offer great temperatures throughout the year, generally high-water visibility, gorgeous shorelines and extensive underwater history, all of which make it the ideal destination for novice, advanced and expert scuba divers. Are you interested in learning to scuba dive? Or are you an experienced diver looking for a beautiful place to gain your next-level certification? Here’s a list of countries that offer incredible underwater adventures you probably won’t be able to resist.
Perhaps you must visit Greece for business, or you’re a digital nomad on your latest adventure, or even a short-term guest via the Corfu Mediterranean cruise port. Certainly, do all of the things one must do in Greece. Eat the dolmades, drink the raki and run the famous Athens marathon if you must! However, regardless of how and why you’ve landed in Greece, don’t depart until you’ve had the chance to experience the region from a totally new perspective; the underwater kind. The Greek islands are home to some of the most incredible sea beds in the Mediterranean region, and the water is warm nearly year-round. Crete and Santorini boast some of the world’s most awe-inspiring underwater archaeological sites, and Greece is also a cave diver’s delight, with many caves and caverns to explore. Biodiversity is abundant throughout more than 10 marine reserves that will dazzle divers and snorkelers beyond wildest imagination.
Undeniably, one of the most beloved diving destinations in the Mediterranean is the island of Malta. Many divers from around the world come to the Maltese archipelago, which includes the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, to discover gorgeous underwater landscapes while performing the most relaxing exercise known to man. Expect to see deep drop offs, tunnels, and caves. Malta has been heavily fished for centuries, meaning reef-life is unglamorous, however, the visibility is excellent for what divers love most, wrecks! A whole lot of wrecks! Beginners and open-water divers are able to enjoy shallow sunken battleships from the second world war. Those with more advanced certifications and depth-specialties will find aircraft, cargo vessels, and submarines waiting to be explored.
Unless you’ve been living under the sea for the last decade, you know that Croatia has become one of Europe’s most-visited tourist destinations because the hit-show, Game of Thrones, was filmed in Dubrovnik. However, what you might not know is that Dubrovnik is also the finest Croatia has to offer a scuba diver with its incredible subaquatic world of stunning flora and fauna. Unlike Malta, the Adriatic Sea is flourishing with marine life. With around 1,000 tiny islands to explore, there are no shortages of reefs, canyons, caverns, and pillars to discover. From May to September, the best season for visibility, diver favorites such as octopus, scorpionfish, lobster, and damselfish can be found among lush colonies of red coral.
On the tiny Italian island of Ustica, located north of Palermo, you’ll discover a small fishing village with about 1,300 residents and the clearest, most serene water you can fathom. In 1986, a marine reserve was established and a diver’s paradise was created. Water sport enthusiasts are welcome to enjoy Ustica’s tranquil sunken paradise. Of the 30 common dives sites, no more than 15 minutes away from each other, the majority are available to all levels of diver experience. True lovers of marine biology and ecology will be blown away by the truly cared-for aquatic habitat that is Ustica’s subsurface environment. As a bonus, Ustica is lauded by visitors for the kindness of the locals and the extraordinary cuisine.
Surprisingly, Albania has nearly 280 miles of coast and almost zero fishing industry, which means the water is home to an abundance of fish and marine animal life. Shore divers can enjoy following the shallow coastlines, brightly lit with flamboyant fields of sponge that open up to deep drop-offs and cave pockets, the perfect territory for lobster and octopus. If technical diving is your specialty, you can’t pass up the Utica’s hidden gem of Saranda, the Blue Eye, an estimated 165 ft fresh water spring that produces extremely clear blue water bubbles.
Mallorca is a tourist favorite of the Mediterranean due to its near perfect climate, white sand beaches, and beautiful clear water, but it also has dive sites; 70 incredible dive sites to be exact! Begin your dive at Cala Monjo swimming leisurely through expansive ribbons of seagrass. Then, you’ll descend into wide caves and tunnels at shallow depths, a rarity for basic-level open water divers to enjoy. You’ll see cardinal fish, nudibranchs and various species of seahorses. Surface and water temperatures are ideal for diving in Mallorca between the months of May and October, and you’ll find many hotels and diving centers eager to help get you underwater.
Some of the cleanest and calmest waters in the region can be found in Corsica, France. An abundance of marine life can be observed at the Mojo Levezzi Marine Reserve at depths ranging from 195 to 230 ft, with visibility to 100 ft. Be prepared for strong currents, but look for barracuda and eagle rays as well as sea daisies and yellow sponges. Don’t even think of leaving France without diving along the border of the Scandola Marine Reserve in the Gulf of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. You won’t be sorry.
One of the longest dive seasons in the Mediterranean, from March to November, is in Cyprus, the third largest and most populous island in the region. Looking for more wrecks? Cyprus has many modern and ancient wrecks to explore, not to mention ancient settlements and artifacts.The most famous wreck is the Wreck of the Zenobia, a ferry that sank in 1980 while carrying more than 100 vehicles, all still secured to the cargo deck and now occupied by marine life. Some of the species you can hope to find include sea turtles and rays. While cool to look at, watch out for the triggerfish! They are fiercely protective of their habitat, and they’ll chase you to the surface should you get too close.
If you’re not an experienced diver but would like to learn, you’re in luck. Dive shops servicing these incredible locations will be happy to offer you a beginner scuba course, followed by as much practice as you can safely get during your vacation. While you’re discovering the vast underwater world previously unknown to you, simultaneously attaining your advanced diver certifications won’t even feel like work. If you have enough time, you can become certified to descend to that wreck you’re dying to see. On the other hand, if diving isn’t for you, so many of these awesome underwater marvels can be enjoyed from the surface, as long you have a snorkel or a glass-bottom boat. Regardless of your preference, consider all there is to see in the vast marine biodiversity of the Mediterranean. You’ll be glad you did.