Although not considered to be a scuba diving hub, diving off the island of Cyprus offers incredible beauty, warm waters that are generally above 80°F in summer and visibility in excess of 100 feet.
Cyprus is an island of ancients – wars, ruins and ancient ways of life. It is in fact safer to visit Cyprus than many tourists believe, and is certainly a note-worthy destination for those interested in exploring what the underwater world has to offer in this part of the world.
Diving around the island of Cyprus is ideal for wreck enthusiasts as there are a number of modern and historic wrecks not to mention ancient artifacts and unique settlements that would interest anyone with a liking for history.
It is possible to dive off Cyprus at any time of year, however between November and March it might be better to opt for a dry suit when the temperature reaches 65°F.
Divers are strictly prohibited from touching these ancient relics and these rules are enforced by dive guides, captains and the government of Cyprus.
Cyprus weather is typical of a Mediterranean island with dry, warm nights and sunny, blue skies during the day. Cyprus winters are mild and offer the ideal setting to escape the harsh winters of northern Europe. Resorts are plentiful in Cyprus and English is widely spoken, so scuba divers should not have much trouble arranging a dive with local operators. Food in Cyprus is delicious and varied, with a great mix of Middle Eastern cuisine and Mediterranean fare.
Thanks to mild currents, warm waters and beautifully clear waters, Cyprus is very popular with beginner divers looking to gain experience underwater. It is also a popular destination for wreck divers to gain experience or certifications which lie at manageable depths of 100 feet.
Cyprus has a jagged coastline with numerous walls, reefs and caves to explore. Cyprus offers a great opportunity for exploratory diving, as new sites are still being discovered today by local dive operators. The eastern shore of Cyprus has many pre-established dive sites, as do the areas of Protaras and Larnaca to the north of Larnaca Bay. Larnaca Bay is the site of the world-famous Zenobia wreck, where divers might find stone anchors and artifacts dating back to 400 BC.
Zenobia was a 1980 Swedish ferry that has now become one of the most popular wreck sites in Cyprus thanks to its accessibility at only 50 feet and immense length of 584 feet. The story of this Swedish vessel is an intriguing one for many as she never completed her maiden voyage and her cargo still lies scattered around the wreck site. The Zenobia went down just 10 miles from a busy fishing harbor in Larnaca and now lies on its side offering easy access for exploration.
Also located in the harbor at Larnaca, the Champagne Wreck was a Russian Yacht that sank not far from the Zenobia. Ideal for wreck training dives, this vessel is home to moray eels and other small creatures that inhabit its funnels and galleys.
Along Cyprus’ northwest coast is a stunning, pointy peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea known as the Akamas Peninsula. This peninsula and its surrounding waters form part of the protected Akamas Marine Reserve where marine life can be found in abundance. Divers will likely encounter green sea turtles and loggerheads, barracuda and massive black grouper in these waters, which present an underwater paradise for a host of marine animals.
Outside of the park and nearby Mazaki Island is a dive site known as St George’s Island Wall in Chrysochou Bay. Suitable for experienced and advanced divers only, this site features a long wall that later becomes the flat seabed at a depth of 100 feet, and is known for its exceptional visibility that can sometimes measure that entire distance up to 100 feet.
Pissouri Bay is another great diving location where the world-class site known as Jubilee Shoals is located. This wall dive features a straight 200 foot drop which takes advanced and technical divers to the remains of a crashed aeroplane. North from Pissouri Bay is a fantastic stretch of shoreline along the eastern shore of Cyprus where scuba divers are spoilt for choice when it comes to dive sites. Farther north from this diving zone are the offshore sites of the Sea Caves and Manajin Island, and to the south are the sites known as the Channel and Dinosaur Bay.
Cyprus has two commercial airports, Larnaca International and Paphos International to the south west. The majority of visitors will make use of Larnaca International as the previous major airport in the capital Nicosia has been out of operation sine 1974. This was due to the area’s location right on the buffer zone where the UN separated the Cyprus-controlled region and the Turkish-controlled region. Nowadays, Larnaca Airport serves as a transportation hub between Europe and the Middle East, with many airports providing direct flights into Cyprus at Larnaca. Larnaca is also the best airport to use when scuba diving as the majority of wreck dives are accessible from this area.
In days gone by, passenger ferries would transport people from mainland Greece to the southern part of Cyprus, but nowadays it is only cruise ships that make use of this route. Ferries travel between the north of Cyprus and mainland Turkey, but there are no longer ferries from Greece to southern Cyprus. As long as tourists have current passports and enter at the correct designated zone, they will be allowed to travel between the north and south buffer zones within Cyprus.
Scuba diving trips are easily arranged in Cyprus, with many operators offering certifications, equipment and water sport rentals, boat safaris and much more. There are many resorts in the diving mecca of Protaras where diving trips are offered daily and shore diving is a possibility.