Scuba diving in Greece
Since Greece is a relatively new country to dive in with diving centers popping up all over, just to disappear again after a couple of years.Greece archipelago has more than 3000 islands, not all of them inhabited and over 1000 known wrecks.The more popular the diving got, the more the government let go of its restrictions. They still want to protect the marine life, so you´re only allowed to dive at a few places.It is still prohibited to dive one hour before sundown until one hour before sunrise. But the diving centers have the possibility to talk to the harbours and get a license to dive at night.
Greece archipelago is divided into seven groups, Argosaronic Gulf Islands, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Sporades, Aegean, Ionian, and Crete.
The Argosaronic Gulf Islands attract a large number of visitors throughout the year. The islands Hydra, Aegina, Agistri, Spetses, Salmina, and Poros are situated just outside Athens. This makes the islands very popular amongst the greek. From Piraeus it is only 1,5 h with boat. That makes the Argosaronic islands great weekend trips.
The Ionian Islands are greener than other island groups. It has more trees and greens. The underwater seascapes of the Ionian Islands are amongst the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. The best places to dive in the Ionian islands are Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkas and Zante/Zakynthos.
In Corfu you´ll find dive centers all over the island. Corfu has also many sites to offer, WW2 wrecks, caves and reefs. Visit the popular Barbaro caves, the WW2 steamship, the British minesweeper HMS Regulus, and what is believed to be a Greek or roman vessel. Kefalonia offers one of Europes best diving spots. Sheer walls, overhangs, caves and several wrecks is what you can expect diving in Kefalonia. Lefkas island has reefs, caves and caverns. It’s a limestone island, therefore the nature is different from other islands. Octopus, barracuda, moray eel, grouper, sea bream, damsel and lobster is what you are likely to see diving in Lefkas. If you want a wider spectra of species and meet octopus, barracuda, moray eels, large grouper, tuna, turtles (caretta caretta), crayfish, langusta, white bream, bluefish, dolphin fish, greater amberjacks and parrotfish Zakynthos also known as Zante is where you´ll go!
In the island group Dodecanese, the island Karpathos is situated. Karpathos will surprise you with warm crystal clear water. Karpathos offers many different dive spots, an experience you shouldn´t miss!
The island Rhodes also belongs to the Dodecanese islands. At the island Rhodes, one of the 7 wonders is located. The Colossus of Rhodes. In Rhodes you can dive at Kalithea bay. Kalithea bay is renowned for its underwater caverns and unusual rock formations. The caverns are very open, easily accessible to the qualified divers and home to a wide variety of Mediterranean sponges and soft corals. Ladiko bay means “always calm” in Greek, and it certainly lives up to its name. Ladiko Bay is a dive site for more experienced divers, offering a wall dive sloping down to 30 m. along the wall, at the deepest point you´ll experience a slight drift and see wide variety of sea life. If you like discovering wrecks, Rhodes has got that too. The old cargo ship Giannoula K built in 1953 is at the bottom in Plimiri.
The popular party island Kos is also a place of diving. From Kos north side it is easy to get to Kalymnos island, Kalymnos is like Lefkas with limestone cliffs, rich marine life and impressive caves.
Crete is the most famous and biggest of the Greek islands. Crete is also its own island group. The impressive rock formations, The Samaria Gorge, that Crete is famous for, continue far beyond the surface line. The caverns, gaps and cracks offer shelter to octopus, moray eel, grouper and other sea life. There are steep walls that from a depth of 12m run straight down to 35m depth.
On Cretes south coast Skinara is a popular dive site. Diving on Crete´s south coast is diving in crystal clear water, with a visibility up to 40 m. Diving along steep walls and magnificent rock formations full of soft corals in every color. In the holes and caverns octopuses, moray eels, cuttlefish, lobsters, langoustes, triton snails and groupers hide.
The Cyclades islands consists of 39 islands, whereof 24 are inhabited. In the Cyclades the most famous of the greek islands are. Here you´ll find Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Folegandros, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinos, Sifnos, Syros and Tinos. These islands are ideal for vacation, because here you can find everything. If you want peace and quiet, visit, Amorgos, Anafi, Folgandros, Kimolos and Serifos. And if you want party and fun you should visit Ios, Mykonos and Paros.
Amorgos is famous for the shooting of the movie the Big Blue. There´s a bar in Amorgos that shows the movie every night, both in English and French. Amorgos is a great place for free divers. Mykonos is an island famous for its nightlife and gay community.
Antiparos, an island situated southwest of the bigger island Paros in the Cyclades. A good island for families since everything is in walking distance. When diving in Antiparos there´s a lot of things to see. The Cathedral, got its name from the rocks that look like a cathedral. Swim through it and enjoy the many colors. Groupers, sardines and tunas will swim by you. At Stingray point you swim along the wall, hoping to see the giant stingray that lives here. At barracuda point there´s a big chance of a school of barracudas come swim around you in the water. If you´re real lucky you might even get to see turtles and swordfish. A mystery for you to solve is the Bubble reef. Out of the reefs pores, bubbles! One don´t know why, but it sure is fun. At this site you can also swim through a cave and see clams, scorpion fish, octopuses, lobsters and nudibranch among others. At a depth of 30m a Shipwreck from the 1960s lie. The wreck is 25m long and the good sight makes it easy to discover its secrets. Dive along the coast of Mykonos. The coast slopes gradually 35m. Along The Wall, big rocks give shelter to all kinds of fish, groupers, moray eels, scorpion fish.
The island of Santorini is quite special. Santorini is a volcano island in the Cyclades. Therefore it has some interesting scenery both above and under the surface. At the dive sites around the New and Old Volcano you can see all the lava formations and find marine life such as lobsters, moray eels, clams and spirographs hiding amongst the lava rocks. In Nea Kameni, or new volcano, you can explore a wreck of a small tour boat. The wreck lies 12-13 meters down. Aspronisi is a tiny uninhabitad island outside Santorini where the diving is said to be ideal. Out in the open sea is the Mansell reef. The minimum depth is 3m and at the edge of the reef you can dive by a 200m steep wall.
If you like cave diving, the cave in the el Greco waters is worth a visit. The cave is 30m long and at the end of the tunnel there´s a rope where you can pull yourself up to an air filled room. El Greco is also a reef where you can meet groupers, octopuses, lobsters, tuna, morays, as well as sea anemones, spirographs and a great variety of sponge and shells. The combination of caves and reef make el Greco attractive for many divers.
Naxos is a beautiful island in the Cyclades. It has it all, party at night, beaches, plenty of restaurants and cafés, culture and history. If you want an active vacation Naxos is great. Except diving you can go horseback riding, windsurfing, bicycling, trekking, or why not visit the waterpark! 10 years ago the Mermaids Cave was discovered. It´s an underwater cave with three different entrances. The light creates incredible scenery. Everywhere you look there´s soft and hard corals. The feeling of being on another planet hits you when you reach the surface and see the stalactites in different shapes. Dive at the Wooden Seaplane or the Lost Beaufighter and explore the remains of WW2 aircrafts. Marianna is the name of a ship that sunk in 1982 during a storm, it is also called the Broken Ship. Even though Agios Nikolaus reef is close to Naxos coast it has a rich marine life. Here you´ll meet octopuses, groupers, eels, shool of fish, and occasionally sting rays. In Virgin reef there are big rocks that make the scenery extraordinary. It is hard to believe that the 15m2 big cave is made by nature itself.
The Sporades island group consists of Alonissos, Skopelos, Skiathos, and Skyros. At the bottom around the Sporades islands one believe that the second largest concentration of ancient and middle age wrecks in the world exists. Near the island of Peristera many important wrecks have been discovered, including a vessel from the 5th century BC.
Alonissos has been a marine park for many years and this has kept the marine life quite undisturbed. Divers can see sponges, corals, lumper eels, blackfish, sea beams, scorpion fish, multi-coloured stripey fish, amphorae shards, caves and shipwrecks. In some areas around Skopelos, diving is not allowed. In Skiathos there are not many dive sites but the water is clear and marine life rich!
The Aegean island group consists of seven islands, whereof Lesvos, Samos and Thassos are the most famous.
Lesvos has a wealth of dive sites right around the coast. There are popular dive spots off the islet of Agios Georgis, near Petra, where there are several rock slides and some interesting reefs. Even better reefs are found in the northeast at Palios.
The visibility is good and the variety of plants is big. The islets of Tarti, in the southeast, have exceptionally clear water and good marine life. Nearby Vatera has wrecks of a couple of commercial ships. Diving in Samos is relatively new, the dive spots are almost untouched. The undisturbed sites mean you are unlikely to meet other diving groups and there is particularly clear water full of eels, starfish, octopus, lobster and more.Thassos has several notable dive sites off the coast including popular sites such as Agios Ioannis Bay and Seagull Island. One of the more interesting dive sites is Volcano Tears with some remarkable underwater lava formations.
Tourist Information in Greece
Getting around in Greece is easy, island hopping is a common way to travel in Greece. From Piraeus, ferrys depart to most of the islands every morning. There is also the faster alternative ,speedboats. There are 44 airports in Greece so flying domestic is no problem. Some island have their own airports whit international flights. This is effective if you don´t want to stop at the mainland first.
Buses are a good way to get around both on the islands and the mainland. On the islands the buses are often late, but it will show up sooner or later! If you like to travel by train, it is possible in the mainland. The tracks cover almost all of the country. A good way to explore the islands on your own is to rent a car or a scooter. There are car rentals on almost every island. The serpentine roads are asphalt and in pretty good shape.Taxis exist both at the mainland and the islands. Just wave your hand as they pass and they´ll pick you up.
The climate is Mediterranean, so the summers are hot and dry. The best time to visit Greece is between June – September, then the daily temperature is between 30-35 c. The temperature is at its highest in the end of July to August, when it can come up to 38-40 c.
In Greece the currency is Euro. Most restaurants and shops take card, but it is always good to carry some change. If you´d like to exchange money you can do so at the bank. Greece is member of the European Union and the Schengen agreement. If your country is a member of the EU or the Schengen agreement as well, no visa is needed. The customs in Greece are easy. It is free import and export to Greece from all countries.
In Greece there are many ownerless cats and dogs. Don´t pet them, many of them are carrier of diseases. Don´t drink the tap water, bottled water is possible to buy almost everywhere.