One thing all recreational divers have in common: experiencing nature more intensively and naturally than hardly any other sport makes possible. This is as true of diving in domestic waters as in the seven Seas.
However, almost all active underwater fans regularly ask themselves one question: Where should we dive next? Many divers are dreaming of a destination that is not to be found on any map – THE insider tip for divers. We asked Frank Schneider, travel journalist, photographer and author of several non-fiction books on recreational diving. Below, fans will find a number of enchanting regions and insider tips that invite you to dive.
Most of the eastern coast of the Adriatic belongs to Croatia. Approximately in the middle lies the Kornati archipelago, which encompasses a number of islands, estimated between 90 and 150, around 12 percent of all the Adriatic islands. In contrast to the classics – southern France and northern Spain – for decades the former Yugoslavian territory was not a popular destination for most Mediterranean divers. And certainly not due to a lack of underwater wonders. Croatia became an EU member state in July 2013, and since then its fantastic dive spots have been easier for divers to reach.
And these dive spots, also known as the "diving treasures of the Adriatic", are certainly worth a trip. After all, the Kornati Islands were declared a national park as early as 1980, and commercial fishing is prohibited there. Divers will find reefs with red and yellow Mediterranean fan corals as well as rock walls covered in massive colonies of yellow encrusting anemones. They will encounter sea turtles, with a little luck see a bottlenose dolphin, and of course the "usual suspects" live here: octopus, moray eels, lobsters and colourful sea slugs. On the seabed there are also shipwrecks from various eras to explore.
Are there still amazing little gems in the Mediterranean? Yes, there are for example, Giglio Island. Covering an area space of only 24 square kilometres, it has all of three fairly small towns and not much in the way of accommodations, and one fantastically located campground. Although Giglio is popular among hikers, beach vacationers and divers alike, there is no mass tourism here. There are only four dive centres on the island: two in Giglio Porto where the ferry from Porto Santo Stefano docks and two in Campese near the island's biggest beach. Giglio is still an insider tip simply because not so many divers can dive there (at once). Also good to know: According to investigations conducted by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations after the capsizing of a cruise ship, Giglio's underwater world was very lucky and sustained no damage. Divers entering the water off the tiny Isola del Giglio can still look forward to a great wealth of species: large shoals of bream and golden oarfish hover in front of steep walls of proliferating red gorgonians and luxuriant masses of yellow fan corals. Schools of barracuda circle over this or that reef and groupers of all sizes hunt for prey to still their hunger. Beds of seagrass along the shoreline of Campese act as nurseries for seahorses, octopus and other sea animals.
North coast of Sardinia/Italy
The Strait of Bonifacio runs between the northern coast of Sardinia, the second largest Mediterranean island, and Corsica, only about 16 kilometres away. All sea creatures wanting to enter the eastern Thyrrenian Sea or from there into the western Mediterranean must pass through the strait. The regular currents ensure lush coral growth (also) along the coast between Alghero in the northwest and the Maddalena archipelago in the northeast. Just a few dive centres share the waters off Alghero and Baia Sardinia as well as the former fishing village of Santa Teresa di Gallura in-between. In the sea there are spectacularly colourful rocky reefs and barracudas live everywhere in large numbers. Speedboats transport divers from Baia Sardinia and Santa Teresa to the Lavezzi Islands, where there is a dive spot with a “grouper guarantee”. Here and there a small wreck can also be explored. And one thing there isn’t here: hordes of divers. Sardinia is much better known as a hiking island and for sailing. However, for divers who have paid only one visit to the underwater world in the north of Sardinia are usually addicted right away. Large car ferries provide service to Alghero and Olbia from Genoa and there is also an international airport.
Fuerteventura is anything but unknown. But compared to other diving destinations in the Atlantic, such as the Azores with its permanent large fish population and whale species, it is better known as a beach island than a diving destination. Diving is concentrated in three places: Corralejo on the northern tip, Caleta de Fuste halfway along the eastern side, and in the south at Costa Calma along the southwestern flank of the Jandia peninsula. Those who want to dive without being taken out in a boat can easily enter the water from the shore. Out of Corallejo and Caleta, good dive spots can be reached by boat in 5 to 20-minutes. In the diving area in front of the island it’s possible to see big fish nearly everywhere, including for example groupers, amberjack, huge schools of sardines and, last but not least, the graceful angel sharks. These fish love deep waters, but regularly come to the diver-friendly zones along the coast.
The Sinai Peninsula is separated from the Egyptian mainland in the west by the Gulf of Suez and its renowned canal, while the Gulf of Aqaba lies off the eastern shore. About 90 kilometres north of the famous Cape Ras Mohammed and about 75 kilometres from Sharm el Sheikh, the still relatively tranquil village of Dahab leads almost a shadowy existence as a diving destination. Many divers know it because of the unusual Blue Hole, but the fantastic reefs of this region are less well-known. Although day divers from Sharm come here regularly, Dahab's diving location with its spectacular steep walls and colourful coral world has much more to offer than can be experienced in two or three dives on a day trip. The fauna is just as varied; to name but a few, there are migrating dogtooth tunas up to 1.5 meters in length, as well as large groupers and barracudas.
The beauty of the tropics
Being off the beaten track doesn’t have to mean being excluded. This statement applies to the dive sites around the Indonesian island of Flores. In the seemingly endless expanses of the Indo-Pacific there are a whole series of equally popular and exquisite diving locations. Flores, which is not far from the island of Komodo with its famous monitor lizards, doesn’t fall into the category of "well visited". Yet getting there these days is no longer such an adventure. Here divers find reefs full of tropical maritime diversity. Among the large fish in the waters, the manta rays are especially distinctive and can outshine other sea dwellers such as barracudas, reef sharks, turtles and huge schools of fish. Brightly-coloured overgrown reefs with a terrific mixture of extraordinary marine life make this diving location extremely varied.
This destination in the western part of the Indian Ocean about 870 kilometres east of Madagascar and far beyond the equator is often overlooked in terms of diving opportunities. Yet there are dive spots along many stretches of coastline here. Mauritius is of volcanic origin, which means the reefs were formed mostly from lava, so they are not classic coral reefs. And does that detract from the fun of diving here? Not a bit. The underwater life that has its habitat among the proliferous leather corals is extremely diverse. Because onshore winds usually prevail in the south, diving is mostly restricted to the lagoons in the protected inner reef. Although it’s rather difficult on the east coast, the west side is the opposite with dive sites on the outer reef. The north, on the other hand, is almost always sheltered from the wind. Near the Grand Baie there are some small wrecks, the relatively shallow reefs are full of sea life and the nearby island of Coin de Mire offers even more dive sites. During the winter in Europe, a shark site at Round Island can also be visited.
In all honesty, do you know where Yap Island is located? It belongs to the Federated States of Micronesia as the western island of the Caroline Archipelago in the West Pacific Ocean. It is situated about 1,300 kilometres east of the Philippines on the southern foothills of the Mariana Trench. Getting there is still not easy; flights go to Guam and Palau. There is one (!) hotel on Yap, with a dive centre attached to it. Both were founded by Texan Bill Acker, who came to Yap in 1976 during his civilian service and fell in love with the dive spots with their manta rays and sharks. He still runs the hotel and dive base with his family. In view of the limited capacities on Yap and its remote location in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, this is definitely an insider tip for divers. All around the island, hard corals dominate the fish-rich reefs. The exposed location not far from the deepest known point of the seabed in the world, measuring about 11,000 metres, makes everything possible: divers can experience a wide range of small and large sea creatures, from rare sea slugs to mature sharks and numerous manta rays.
This Caribbean island about 52 kilometres north of the coast of Honduras has the reputation in Europe of being the underdog of Caribbean diving destinations. It is about 60 kilometres long and covered in lush green forests. There is much to experience here for underwater adventurers, which is also promised by around five dozen dive sites (if not more). At one of the better known spots is the wreck of the "Odyssey", which was sunk especially for divers on the northern flank of the western part of the island in 2002. A shark dive off Roatan Island promises a special thrill. And what else is there? Almost everything that inhabits the Caribbean waters can be found here, from corals like the Venus fan, huge sponges, Caribbean lobsters, groupers and turtles to oversized barracuda.
Diving at boot Düsseldorf
Certainly not an insider tip, but immensely popular with diving fans are Halls 12 and 13 with the Dive Centre and the Diving Tower at boot Düsseldorf. Here, the global players of the diving industry are on board, numerous worldwide destinations invite you to dream of your next diving holiday and international stars of the scene share the stage with live presentations. boot Düsseldorf opens its doors from January 20 to 28 and will celebrate a small anniversary in 2024: 55 years as the world's largest watersports trade fair, which has been an Eldorado for diving fans since the 1970s.