When you consider that Italy sticks out into the Mediterranean and is surrounded by water on three sides, it comes as no surprise that you can dive nearly anywhere on the Italian coast. However, the best dive locations can be found in the south of the country and include the islands of Scilly and Sardinia, as well as the Portofino Marine Park.
Portofino Marine Park
Without a doubt, the Portofino Marine Park is the jewel in the crown of Italian diving. Located in the north of Italy on the Italian Riviera, the well-preserved marine park is home to a rich and diverse marine life and geography. Dive sites suit every level, and you can find everything from caves and swim-throughs to walls and rocky reefs, so there is something for every level of diver. The waters of Portofino Marine Park are rich, and you regularly encounter moray eels, octopus, sunfish, scorpion fish, and lobsters, as well as a pretty diverse array of Nudibranchs and critters. You can also encounter some of the bigger Mediterranean pelagics when diving in the Portofino Marine Park, namely dolphins, tunas, snappers, barracudas, and groupers. If you are lucky, it is also a common occurrence to spot whales from dive boats. For technical wreck divers, the world-famous oil tanker wreck the Haven lies close by in the waters off Genoa. The park is also home to the giant submerged bronze statue “The Christ of the Abyss.”
Being the largest of all the Mediterranean islands, the diving in Sicily is great and suits almost all levels of divers. Relatively close to Sicily lies the small island of Ustica which offers some of the best diving in the Mediterranean. Sicily is home to some interesting and varied wreck dives, including an ancient Roman wreck that is still diveable 2,000 years after its sinking. You can also dive the more recent wreck of a Junkers 52 German bomber that was shot down during WWII. Unfortunately, due to overfishing most of the larger fish species around Sicily are now absent, however, there is a host of smaller critters and fish to be found. Some of the best sites in and around Sicily include:
· Grotta Azzurra
· Devil Tunnel
· Angelos Canyon
· Roman Temple
· Isola Bella
Another popular Italian dive destination is Sardinia; the large Mediterranian island is home to some great dive sites and unspoiled nature both on land and in the sea. When diving in Sardinia, you can find everything from colder water reefs to natural caves and walls. The marine life is also rich in the waters off Sardinia with all the usual Mediterranean flora and fauna. Top dive sites in Sardinia include:
· Orosei Gulf
· Capo Carbonara
· Capo Testa
How easy is it to arrange diving?
Arranging diving in Italy is relatively straightforward; while you don’t get streets of dive shop after dive shop like in some tropical destinations, there is plenty of operators. Most have an online presence, and it is always best to book and organize your diving online before your visit.