Scuba diving in the Greek Islands
Where to go diving in the Greek Islands.
Scuba diving took off in the Greek Islands after the Greek government lifted its tight restrictions on dive sites. Crystal clear waters, a huge variety of marine life, spectacular underwater caves and even more impressive shipwrecks now attract thousands of scuba divers to the Greek Islands every year, while diving clubs offer something for everyone.
The following guide is aimed at scuba novices and those new to the delights of scuba diving in the Greek islands. The sport really is accessible to all.
No so long ago, scuba diving in Greek waters was severely limited with just a handful of legal sites open to the public. The aim was to protect ancient underwater treasures from amateur pilferers.
After all, ships have been sailing the Aegean for thousands of years and ancient wrecks at the bottom of the Med still contain priceless treasurers, not only in terms of their monetary value but their archaeological importance too.
Recently the Greeks decided it was time to lift the restrictions on all but the most important sites and now it is possible to dive just about anywhere in the Greek islands with just a few dive sites still out of bounds for archaeological or ecological reasons.
In response there has been a surge in Greek diving centres with new clubs springing up on many Greek Islands. Scores of dive centres now offer scuba lessons while other companies advertise popular island-hopping dive tours.
All the Greek dive centres boast of instructors trained to industry standard PADI level and many have reached the top of their profession.
Greek Island holiday visitors should never forget that diving can be dangerous and it is always wise to dive with trained and experienced instructors that knows their dive sites well.
Underwater currents can be a particular hazard and it is very easy to get swept away, not just by the astounding sights but literally by the sea itself.
Each of the Greek Island groups has its own special diving attractions and, as you are unlikely to spend your whole holiday beneath the waves its worth checking out the attractions on land as well as those beneath the waves.
Good ferry connections make the Cyclades popular with adventurous holidaymakers and these waters also offers the widest variety of scuba diving sites. Mykonos has some excellent reefs and caves and shipwrecks. Naxos is noted for its triple caverns near Paros and for underwater wrecks of cargo shops and even a British bomber from WW11. The 'Cathedral' dive off Paros has impressive rock formations covered and the wreck of a Greek liner while Santorini has a number of deep water dive sites around the volcanic caldera
You might expect more dive sites in the Dodecanese given the large number of islands but most dive centres operate out of the popular holiday hotspots of Rhodes and Kos. There are many impressive dive sites off the north and east coasts of Rhodes with exciting underwater reefs full of marine life and wrecks to the south of the island. Both Kos and Kalymnos have excellent diving with the limestone caves of Kalymnos offer particularly rich dives through large interlinked caverns.
Scuba diving in the Ionian is big business with a large number of dive centres on most islands. Corfu has several good underwater caves with open roofs as well as a number of shipwrecks off the coast including a passenger steamship and the British minesweeper. Seas around Kefalonia provide sheer walls and overhangs, some fine caves and several wrecks. The limestone caves of Lefkas contain many reefs and caverns while Zante offers particularly rich marine life that includes octopus, barracuda and moray eels.
The northern Aegean is a popular area for diving although it must be born in mind that the islands in this group are not only far apart but are relatively poorly services by Greek ferry routes. Islands in this group include Thassos, Samos and Lesvos. Of the three, Lesvos probably has the most interesting dive sites around it's long coastline. Scuba diving off Samos is relatively recent so dive sites here offer almost pristine diving conditions, undisturbed sites and waters free of other divers. Thassos has several notable dive sites off the coast including some remarkable underwater lava formations.
The seas of the Sporades have the second largest concentration of ancient sea wrecks in the world, some from as early as the 5th century BC. Diving in protected seas is strictly forbidden but that still leaves many good dive sites and marine park status means underwater wildlife has been undisturbed for years. Divers can find sponges, corals, and many varieties of fish as well as ancient amphorae shards and shipwrecks.
The impressive mountain ranges of Crete continue underwater, notably on the south coast where caves and reefs shelter a wide variety of marine life. There are some impressive depth walls with good drop off points along the south coast and several underwater gorges overgrown with plants. The north coast is not without some excellent diving with useful slopes, caves crammed with fish and even a Venetian 'anchor cemetery'.