Greece has around 1400 islands and as such is a fantastic destination for scuba divers and snorkelers alike. Once a powerful, sea-based nation dating back to 3200BC, Greece has seen many battles fought and won on its oceans. Greece has conquered nations such as Mycenae, Minoa and Persia to name just a few, and as a busy waterway it has many interesting wrecks worth exploring.
Mainland Greece features a craggy, jagged outline as well as a number of smaller islands that form part of the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas. These islands are very popular with tourists looking for a relaxing holiday, but also boast great diving for all abilities amongst the warm waters of a Mediterranean climate. Divers are able to experience a wide variety of interesting marine life as well as culturally interesting dive sites that are suited for all levels of diver.
Santorini, in the Aegean Sea, is one of the beautiful Cyclades Islands and hosts a number of sites including Old Volcano, House Reef and Mansell. These sites offer something for everyone in the way of a 200ft wall dive and a reef dive off the beach.
To the south, Crete offers more than 20 dive sites for all abilities where divers are met with cave diving opportunities and shipwrecks to explore, plus of course the popular holiday destination of magnificent Crete.
To the north of Athens on mainland Greece lies the Pagesetic Gulf, a protected inland saltwater bay that offers more than 10 great dive sites to choose from. One of the beach dives in the Pagasetic Gulf is Kato Gatzea which offers a drift dive over coral reef just outside the village of Kato Gatzea.
Before 2005, it was quite difficult to dive in Greece due to a blanket ban on recreational diving that meant 90% of Greek waters were inaccessible. The government placed this ban on Greek waters in an effort to reduce underwater looting which was a major problem. Thankfully for divers everywhere, these bans have now been lifted, increasing the number of dive shops and making diving in Greece fairly easy. What makes diving in Greece even more exciting is that new dive sites are being discovered all the time, making it a great time to visit and explore. There are still some restrictions in place, however, for example night dives need to be accompanied by a dive guide from a certified diving center. Diving solo in Greece is strictly prohibited, and divers will need to have a recognized certification from a diving governing body such as PADI. There are a number of diving centers in Greece that will help to certify novice divers.
Scuba diving in Greece is possible at any time of year, but the winter months can get fairly cold. The best diving months are April – October, with optimal warm water temperatures coming in the months of July and August. Visibility is usually very good, making it ideal for recreational scuba divers looking for a relaxing dive.
Greece Dive Sites
Diving is possible nearly anywhere in Greece, and divers are sure to come across wrecks, coral reef, walls and of course a variety of interesting marine life, especially in the southern islands.
One of the most famous sites in Greece is the wreck of the HMHS Brittanic, the sister ship to the Titanic. Once a hospital ship, this ill-fated vessel was sunk by a mine of German origin back in 1916. It now lies at a depth of more than 120 meters off Kea Island and is a protected war grave site. At such a depth, the HMHS Brittanic is only reachable for technical divers, but for those qualified it offers a very interesting wreck site and vibrant corals of all varieties.
For those who are not able to get to such depths, the Los wreck located on the northern side of Fira Island is an ideal wreck dive. The wreck’s starting location is at a fairly shallow 13 meters and stretches down to 23 meters. The wreck dive offers fantastic visibility and relatively gentle currents, as well as great marine life sightings such as the variety of crustaceans who have now made their home in the broken hull of the vessel. Although it is a relatively easy dive for intermediate divers, visitors are required to dive with an experienced guide as the wreck is located next to a busy shipping channel for the surrounding islands.
One of Crete’s most popular diving sites is a beach dive known as Mononaftis Bay. Situated near Agia Pelagia, this dive site reaches depths of 35 meters yet is still easy enough for novice divers to enjoy. There are many caves and crevices at this site with a rocky seabed where divers can find moray eels, groupers, scorpion fish and even shoals of barracudas and stingrays.
With the ban on recreational diving now lifted, Greece has seen a dramatic increase in the number of dive operators in recent years. These operators are located all over the major tourist islands and even on some of the smaller islands. All dive shops must hold a current, internationally recognized certification, with the most prominent certifying body being PADI. Travelling to Greece from afar is easy to arrange with quite a few international airports to choose from. The largest international airport is in Athens, but in order to travel to the smaller islands visitors will need to travel by boat.
Major dive operators operate out of popular holiday destinations such as Crete, Athens and Cyclades, and many of these dive shops will offer dive schools to assist divers with obtaining their next certification.