Scuba Destinations

 

Italy

Scuba diving in Italy, scuba diving in the Portofino Marine Park and The Haven, the largest shipwreck in the world . . .
Overview:

Italy is the leg and foot landmass in Sothern Europe.  Here's the map. The two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia are part of Italy.

Diving in Italy is a very popular sport and there are some very good locations.  Elba, SardiniaSicily and Ustica have been treated separately.  Within Italy, they have their own federations known as FISASUB and ESA (European Scuba Agency), which is aligned to CMAS.

In the north, the Italian Riviera extends from the border with France down the west coast of Italy. Portofino is perhaps the most famous focal point and it attracts divers to the marine reserve, which extends along a vast stretch of the coast beyond it.   

Liguria is one of Italy’s smaller regions that forms a narrow ribbon in the North of Italy stretching from the French border on the west to Tuscany on the east. Eastern Liguria includes such beautiful  places as Portofino and its Promontory, Rapallo, Camogli, Sestri Levante and Santa Margherita.  The whole coastline is rough and rugged with fantastic views.  The Promontory of Portofino towers 600 metres above the sea and the whole area is a natural park.

coralDiving in this area is fantastic (see further details below).  It is known as the best diving in the Mediterranean.  The Marine Park of Portofino has been protected since 1998 so there is an abundance of marine life rarely seen in the Mediterranean.  There are more than 20 dive sites within 10/15 minutes of the port by boat.  DWS Diving Center has a licence to dive in the Marine Park and the diving center is located 20 meters from the port.

On the west coast of Italy, south of Rome approximately two hours drive, is the Naples Bay area as well as the Amalfi Peninsula.  Caves and caverns abound and you will be able to see plenty of small colourful fish, seahorse, octopus, moray eel etc.  Capri offers some good cave diving with plenty of overhangs.

Moving round the heel of Italy to Gallipoli are 2 wrecks, HMS Quail (80mtrs) and HMS Regent (35mtrs). HMS Quail sank whilst in tow to Taranto from Bari after being damaged by a mine in 1944. HMS Regent is a small Italian submarine used in the last part of WWII.

The Tremiti islands include some exceptional growths of Georgian fans of various colours.  In addition, there are numerous hard corals very near the shorelines which have grown into vertical pillars. In several areas, large numbers of these coral pillars have developed in fairly close proximity to one another.  In these areas, a torch is a must for illuminating the crevices where moray tend to live.  

Moving north up the Adriatic coast, the Conero Peninsula offers good shore diving, quite good reef diving and some excellent wreck diving. Among the sights to see while diving are the wreck of the cargo vessel Photos which sank in 1962 near two rock pinnacles called The Two Sisters (Le Due Sorrele) off the coast of Ancona.  The vessel is extensively broken up, but it is possible to access the bridge and also to investigate the ship's boilers.


Diving in Portofino Marine Park:

Diving in the marine park is suitable for all levels of divers from beginners to advanced with many multi-level dives, walls, caverns and swim throughs. There are World War 2 Wrecks, one in the main park and 2 more a short navigation away.

The marine park is  home to many different and beautiful marine life, some of which are not found anywhere else in the Mediterranean.  It is also home to the  most famous dive of the Mediterranean,  ‘The Christ of the Abyss’, a giant submerged statue cast in bronze.  The statue  was created in memory of Dario Gonzatti, one of the pioneers of scuba diving.  Gonzatti was based in the area and  was the first Italian to wear scuba gear and tested a lot of that gear in what is now the marine park.  Companies such as Cressi and Mares founded their businesses from these waters.

The marine park is also famous for spectacular carpets and walls of vibrant red corals, violet gorgonian  and yellow cluster anemones.  Big marine life including barracuda, snapper, tuna and groupers are seen everyday.

The marine park is also home to the unique giant moon fish, dentix, huge moray eels, scorpion fish, lobster and octopus. Tiny marine life, like many types of violet, pink and white nudibranch, are everywhere.  The region is also known as ‘The Dolphin Sanctuary’ with dolphins seen regularly. 

The marine environment of Portofino is one of the most bio-diverse and unique in the Mediterranean and for that reason the Portofino Marine park is visited by divers and studied by biologists from all over the world.

The Haven, the largest wreck in the world is close by and can easily be accessed staying in Santa Margherita. DWS can organise day trips to the Haven
Visibility is excellent most of the year round.  Optimum diving is between the beginning April and end October

santa-margherita-1Santa Margherita  is a pretty town with a working port and daily fishmarket where superyachts rub shoulders with old fishing boats.  It is cheaper to stay in than Portofino and less crowded than Rapallo.  It is a great base to discover the whole area either by train or boat.   The town is surrounded and shielded by green covered mountains that help keep the climate mild all year round.

There are spectacular views of the Mediterranean, palm trees, grand villas and hotels and Caribbean sunsets.  There is a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where you will feel the warmth of the Italian Riviera as soon as you arrive.

DWS are happy to organize accommodation and have relationships with several hotels and a hostel suitable for clubs/groups

Things to do when not diving:

Genoa is home to  Italy’s largest commercial and naval port which now boasts the largest aquarium in Europe, a fantastic maritime museum and childrens science museum.   The Annual Boat show each years brings thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world.  This town is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus as well as Pesto and close by in Recco, the Focaccia bread was first created.   Whale and dolphin watching trips are available from the port.

Cinque Terre (the 5 villages) is a short train ride from Santa Margherita and Pisa with its leaning tower is an hour and a half away and Milan a couple of hours. 

[Source: Mimi Riddell]
[Photo Credits: Luca Smecca and Jorg Bauser]
What to see:
  • ‘The Christ of the Abyss’ is located in the secluded bay of San Fruttuoso with a 12th century abbey in the cove, that  is only reachable by boat or a long walk over the mountains.  The statue now serves as a monument to honour all those who devote their lives to the ocean and there is an annual pilgrimage each July where divers from all over the world light floating candles in above the statue.  This is a dive that all divers must see at least once.
  • L’Isuela, one of the most popular dive sites has been voted The Most Beautiful Dive in the Mediterranean by the Editor of Tauchen Magazine, the largest scuba mag in Germany.
  • Punta della Torretta - a bristling reef to a depth of 35mtrs with a wall full of big red and yellow gorgonians, sponges, lobsters and red coral.
  • Wrecks are the Genova, Mohawk Deer, KT etc.
  • Tremeti Islands
  • Bay of Naples for caves and caverns
Need to know:
  • Santa Margherita is the best place to be based to dive in the Portofino Marine Park.  
  • A must for all diving enthusiasts, the National Museum of Diving Activities is divided into various sections concerning all activities to do with diving. There is a green area, which has on display items like a deep-water diving bell and a butoscopic sphere. You can find the find the museum some 11 kilometres outside of Ravenna.
  • Jason de Caires Taylor (a British artist) is currengly working on a new series of sculptures to be placed on land and underwater, around the La Castella and Capo Colonna coastline (part of the Area Marina Protetta Capo Rizzuto). This area incorporates a rich marine ecosystem and is also historically important as the only place in the world with archaeological remains from Magna Gracian, Roman and Byzantine civilisations, both on land and underwater.
    The sculptures have been commissioned by the Province of Crotone to celebrate the prolific cultural and artistic heritage of the region. The works aim to create a dynamic link between the past and the present
Useful stuff:
Language: Italian
Currency: Euro
Time: GMT +1
Climate: Alpine in the north. Mediterranean for the rest - hot dry summers, mild winters.
Diving season: 12 months, best April - October
Water temperature: Bay of Naples - January 15C (59F) August 25C (77F)
Portofino - January 13C (55F) August 24C (75F) )
Air Temperature: Bay of Naples - January 12C (54F) August 29C (85F)
Portofino - January 10C (50F) August 30C (86F)



  • coral
  • octopus
  • red coral
  • white nudibranch

Europe - Italy: Latest User Reviews

Course PADI  Mediterranea Diving Club, Italy 5 Star Rating Added: 2nd October 2013 by scub33
Perfect Diving Course. Special thanks to Valentina for being patient teacher for us.
Thumbs up to Diving Center Punta Mesco  Diving Punta Mesco, Italy 4 Star Rating Added: 4th July 2013 by CPdives
Diving Center Punta Mesco provided excellent support for a short notice request for a dive. Dario the owner even picked me up at the train station and took me to the harbor. The staff was friendly, courteous and professional. The dive brief even included a 3D map of the site....
Nice people. Nice dives  La Gorgonia Diving Center , Italy 4 Star Rating Added: 12th May 2013 by Subadude11
I arrived at Lipari via a Windsurf Cruise ship for 8 hrs. The dive shop was easily visible from the boat tender and only 1 block away. I had arranged dives ahead of time and they were expecting me. I don't speak Italian and they only spoke limited English but...
Outstanding dive and superb customer care  Diving in Elba, Italy 5 Star Rating Added: 11th May 2013 by Subadude11
I arrived in Elba via a Windsurf Cruise ship for 8 hrs. I had arranged with Riccardo, the dive shop owner, to have someone pick me up, which they did in a timely manner and drove me 5 min to the dive shop across the bay. Upon arriving at the dive...
Fantastico  Centro Sub Campi Flegrei, Italy 5 Star Rating Added: 28th March 2012 by djrickyvoice
Secondo me, il più bel centro Sub del Sud Italia, con le sue immersione fantastiche!!
Profondo Blu Ustica - fabulous experience  Profondo Blu, Italy 5 Star Rating Added: 20th September 2011 by tufukantago
With Profondo Blu you feel at home both at sea and back on Ustica. If you need attention, good humour, great food, hospitality and perfectly planned and enjoyable dives then Paolo and Ann who run Profondo Blu are the right people. It all starts with nice breakfast and good coffee...
Great experience  Mister Jump, Italy 5 Star Rating Added: 19th October 2010 by blu69
I've be in Ustica island this summer. I always dive outside Italy but this time in Ustica was great. Beautifull caves where we dive all togheter. We make a Cin Cin with wine in a cave under the water.Was a nice surprise and a terrific moment for all of us. You have to...
Scubadviser Search