If you’re heading for the Costa Blanca on holiday and fancy doing some scuba diving then it’s well worth signing up for a few dives at one of the PADI accredited dive schools located in and around Torrevieja. Just a short distance from this popular resort there’s an interesting range of dive spots to suit both beginners and experienced divers. Key destinations include La Manga and Cabo de Palos which is a great site near the Islas Hormigas Marine Reserve. In general this area offers idyllic conditions for divers with very warm sea temperatures during the summer months combined with visibility as high as 25 metres.
Cabo de Palos lies on the edge of La Manga del Mar Menor, this where you’ll find some good diving for beginners most notably in the small bays at Cala Muerta and Cala Fria. With depth varying from 6 to 20 metres and all kinds of rock formations you can see an amazing amount of underwater life. As soon as you descend you will see big shoals of varied kind of fish. In the shallow part of the bays lie fields of ocean gorgonians which brings shoals of salaam and sergeant fish. Swimming over and looking between all the rocks lying on the bottom you can spot the octopus trying to hide from the intruders into their world. You might also see brown rays lying on the sandy parts of the bottom while you’re passing by.
Swimming along the walls you’ll come across the morays, with their beautiful golden spots, sticking their heads out of their holes. Also the conger eel lives in this area. Going through one of the swim troughs of just a few metres you will get a drop-off to about 15 metres. Passing some big rocks you arrive at the “Sharkmouth” which is named because of its shape which looks like a shark facing up with jaws open and waiting to attack.
Here you’ll observe a wide variety of fish, small ones in shoals of hundreds or thousands, and the bigger ones like the grouper with a size of 50 cm up to more than a metre. Don’t forget everything underwater looks 25% bigger because of the density of the water.
Further on we arrive at another longer swim through which reaches 18 metres. In this area while hovering above the rock formations you can spot the groupers lying on the rocks but hiding as soon as they are aware of divers. Around these small canyons you can spend hours watching the fascinating underwater life. Octopus, moray eels, groupers, poisonous stonefish and small rays are quite common and if you take the time to look up now and then you can spot barracudas circling around the top of the rocks.
In the other bay there is some good diving for divers of all standards following the wall at a depth of 3 to 10 metres and a visibility of 10-15 metres. This shallow depth allows you to take underwater pictures to show your friends when you return from your holidays.
All the way along the wall at the end we leave the bay through a narrow gap and you can choose to go left around the cliff or right around a small reef and again you have the chance to spot a large octopus, morays or groupers amongst all the small sealife. There are also rays on the sandy part of the bottom and the barracudas at the top of the reef. On the way back you can visit the wreck of a catamaran that was destroyed on the rocks during a storm.
Bajo el Dentro is one of the most popular reefs in the marine reserve where you can see huge morays lying on the rocks or in the sea grass and big shoals of barracudas as well as gigantic groupers hanging at a depth of around 20 metres. Because of the depths involved and the strong currents this site is only for experienced divers.
In the surrounding blue waters you can see eagle rays passing by and sunfish hanging still in the light of entering sun. Around 35 metres there are amazing red gorgons and even more enormous looking groupers. On the side of the wall there is a small cave you can easily enter and then leave via the top opening. If your lucky you might meet a dolphin or a turtle or a the occasional shark which still inhabits this part of the Mediterranean.
One of the most interesting wrecks in this area is the Naranjito. The Naranjito was a 50 metre freighter which sank carrying its freight of oranges (hence its name). This wreck lies about 3 km out of Cabo de Palos. With an average visibility of 20 metres and the good conditions of the wreck it is in a nice spot for divers who like wreck diving but is only recommended for advanced divers as it starts at a depth of 27 metres and the prop lies at a serious depth of 42 metres and sometimes there are really strong currents around the wreck which are not always noticed from the surface. On the wreck you can enter the load compartments safely and meet the congers, sunfish, barracudas or shoals of other smaller species
For easier and more relaxing dive sites the area around Cartagena is highly recommended. Here you can find several dive sites where you can find lots of stonefish, morays and octopus. One of the interesting things about this area is that sometimes you can find relics from ancient times like pieces of old pottery, copper nails or pieces of lead from the wooden ships that have sunk while attacking the nearby harbour of Cartagena.
For more information about diving in the southern Costa Blanca please contact the following PADI certified dive centre at Scubaworld on Playa Flamenca (Orihuela Costa).