“Places to dive in the Mediterranean,” snorts Capt. Greg Butler-Davis of S/Y Panthalassa, “That's a bit like asking if there are any nightclubs in Guildford (a provincial town in South East England). There are, but why would you bother?” But Capt. Greg is a member of the SBDC (Spoilt Brat Diving Club), having spent a previous lifetime working at a dive centre off the east coast of Africa.
Asking local experts about diving hot spots in the Med doesn't help much either. Patrick Hamon, dive expert and owner of Plongee 3 B Nice dive shop, is aghast at Capt. Greg’s comment. “But there are so many,” he cries, “It would take volumes of books to describe them all. Your question is I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E....” Right, thanks Patrick, could we lose the enthusiasm and cut to some underwater action?
Some diving buddies claim that the Mediterranean is not necessarily the world's dream spot for “going deep,” but the “Dead Med” label is wrong – there are thousands of wrecks, craggy underwater cliffs, caves and plenty of marine life: flora and fauna.
A taste of top Med hot spots could read something like this (but don't tell Patrick):
Croatia offers divers several wrecks to slither over including a 2,000-year-old merchant ship wreck and other sites where you can find amphorae (ancient ceramic two handled vases, not fish, stupid). Marine life to spot includes scorpions, damsels, wrasse, bream, gobies, sponges, corals and a whole load of urchins.
Corsica: This island forms part of the French Cetacean Sanctuary and boasts a high concentration of whales and dolphins. Patrick recommends the 26-meter Le Bombardier shipwreck, La punta Muchilina at Cargese, La Pecorella wreck at Porto Vecchio or La Grande Vallee at Propriano. www.visit-corsica.com
Sardinia is One of the best diving spots in Italy, particularly around the Archipelago of La Maddalena and marine park of Lavezzi. Check out aged octopus, moray eels, barracuda and fabulous rock formations and caves. There are forty odd dive sites, including Angelika, a Japanese cargo ship that sunk in 1982 and a cave dive at Paganetto Rock. www.divesardegna.com
The Island of Gozo, off Malta: Famous dives here include Blue Hole and Inland Sea, Reqqa Point, Cathedral Cave and Billinghurst Cave. There are three wreck dives, including Xlendi Bay, which features a purpose sunk ferry underwater attraction. www.visitmalta.com
Cote d'Azur: There are 25 dives in the bay of Villefranche alone. At Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat check out the wreck Le Sheherazade. In the Bay of Saint-Tropez you'll find the Rubis, an old submarine built in 1931 that was sunk by the French Navy for training purposes. The wreck Chalutier de la Garoupe is located at Antibes. The diving off Les Iles de Lerins near Cannes has some great spots including, La Balise de la Fourmigue. Further up the coast La Gabini is an area off L'ile de Port-Cros, renowned for under water cliffs, barracuda and huge groupers. An interesting shallow dive is LST 282, a tank landing craft wreck near St. Raphael sunk by a German fighter plane in 1944. Les Porquerolles is the largest island of the archipelago of three islands off Hyeres. Beginners dive at Les Medes in the North East and La Jaune Garde, while more experienced divers head for the South East to find wrecks Le Donator and Le Grec. www.golfe-st-tropez.com
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