PADI Scuba Diving - Italian Islands
Looking down at Italy’s distinctive boot shape, it looks like numerous pearls have been scattered all around. These pearls are delightful islands and contain some fantastic diving. They are too numerous to discuss here but several of the more well known include Sicily, Sardinia, Elba, Ponza and Ventotene.
Here, you are in a puzzle of islands – not is there only the fantastic coasts of Sicily, Siracusa, Taormina, but Lampedusa, Pantelleria and Ustica Islands also boast dark volcanic rocks dressed by huge sea fans. The crystal clear waters provide access to just about any Mediterranean environment, including wrecks dating from Roman times as well as both World Wars.
Many of the islands have a rich history and culture – and this extends to the diving. Off of Sicily’s Aci Trezza, for example, you can dive from the famous lava stones called the Ciclopi rocks. According to the legend, Polyphemus threw those stones at Ulysses, who was trying to flee. If you like archeology, you can also ask to make some amazing historical dives in specific areas.
If you come to Rome, you’re close to diving the Isole Pontine, an archipelago that includes Ponza and Ventotene Islands. There you can enjoy nice banks at reasonable depths that are full of red coral and rich life. These areas are also a cave lover’s paradise as there are numerous available to those appropriately qualified.
Leaving Rome and heading north leads to Tuscany – and Elba Island, the biggest in the Tuscany Archipelago. Here, there are plenty of dive centers to take you see numerous kinds of pelagic animals and breathtaking drop offs. One special area is Punta di Fetovaia, well known for its huge red sea fans.
And, if you’re diving in Italy, you can’t pass up Sardinia – a paradise for divers and nondivers alike. The diving here is all above average, with caves, coral and numerous creatures, but the island also boasts one of the most famous dives in Italy - Secca del Papa.
That is just a small taste of Italian diving – jump in and you won’t be disappointed.
PADI Dive Shops and Resorts
Find contact information for all the PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in Italy.
Depth: 10-40 meters/30-130 feet and deeper
Visibility: 15-40 meters/50-130 feet
Currents: rare and mostly mild
Water Temperature: 15-26° C/59-79° F depending on depth and time of year
Dive Season: April through November, although August can be crowded
Weather: 18-35° C/16-95° F depending on the month
Access: mostly boat diving
Skill level: beginner to advanced – including technical diving
Recommended Courses: Advanced Open Water Diver, Deep Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Digital Underwater Photographer, Wreck Diver, Underwater Naturalist, Cavern Diver
Scuba Gear: Temperate, cold water or tec diving scuba equipment
Recommended Length of Stay: 7-10 days
Divers visiting Italian islands can expect to see a plethora of benthic and pelagic life that includes red coral, colored gorgonians, groupers and barracuda. If you’re lucky, you might also see turtles, small sharks and passing dolphins
Most Famous Dive Site
Name: Secca del papa (Bank of the Pope)
Average Depth: 25 metres/82 feet
Description: Located off Tavolara Island in front of Porto San Paolo, Secca del papa (Bank of the Pope) takes its name from a rock onshore bearing a likeness to the leader of the Catholic Church.
The bank itself rises from 40 metres/131 feet at the bottom to 16 metres/52 feet from the surface. This makes it a good location to split into two dives based on desired depth and certification level.
These underwater pinnacles are covered by yellow tipped-red sea fans, octopus and moray eels – all the while surrounded by fish, and nudibranchs. But, the true stars of the show are the large, calm groupers that seem to enjoy playing and posing for photographs.
Curious divers can also peer into cracks, crevices and fissures to find several varieties of crabs and prawns.
Getting to the Site
The dive site is reachable by boat and can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour, depending on your departure site.
Sicily: Visit Agrigento’s Castore and Polluce Temples – better known as La valle dei templi – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, head to Siracusa’s historical sites, visit Taormina for a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean or more. From the Cathedral of Noto, to Palermo’s downtown, to Mt. Etna’s active volcano, Sicily’s sightseeing list is simply fantastic.
Isole Pontine and Elba Island: You can visit Elba Island’s Napoleon house and museum to see where the French Emperor lived in exile from 1814 to 1815 and admire the impressive imperial library that contains 1100 volumes. As with most other places in Italy, the food and drink isn’t to be missed. Sample the local cuisine by dining on spaghetti all’amatriciana and accompanying it with a glass of Frascati D.O.C. - a delightful chilled white wine
Sardinia: Topside, this is one of nature’s masterpieces. With a long, white sand beach in the south (Cagliari’s Poetto beach is particularly well known), a salt lagoon complete with pink flamingos and magnificent, wind-carved rocks in the north, the island is stunning. The small town of Alghero is also famous for its history along with its fabulous lobsters, while Costa Smeralda is known as a high society paradise. Here, you can see a juxtaposition of natural beauty and some of the most elegant yachts and villas in the word.
Language: Italian. English is spoken in tourist locations
Tipping: It isn’t mandatory and isn’t included on the bill. It is, however, appreciated.
Transportation: If you head to the islands by ferry, you can take your own car (or a hire car if permissible). Other than that the best way to tour is to get a rental car on island (or motorbike on Elba or Isole Pontine).
Isole Pontine: http://www.latinaturismo.it/isole-pontine.cfm
Elba Island: http://www.aptelba.it/APTView/index.jsp
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