Since its being one of the most powerful civilisations of the world, Greece has always had close connection with water. Numerous battles which affected the course of world history, took place within the five seas surrounding Greece. Sunken ships, artifacts and even entire underwater cities still hold the secrets of the past that draw the attention of divers. Just 15 years ago, diving was banned in Greece because of the huge number of historical and archaeologically important items to be found in its waters. Nowadays authorities have reconsidered this position, but some restrictions still remain. For example, diving is possible only as part of a group from a licensed dive center, and those who decide to dive independently can expect to be hit by a substantial fine. There are about 2000 islands within Greek territorial waters and, even on the smallest of them, we can assist in finding a dive center which, with traditional Greek hospitality, will organize a fascinating adventure.
Greece possesses a Mediterranean climate with soft and comfortable winters and warm summers. In July and August, temperatures can reach + 36 degrees Celsius and the mainland can feel somewhat stifling, whereas coastal winds on islands ensures that the air remains neither still nor stagnant. In the winter, among the more northern reaches, temperatures fall to around + 5 degrees Celsius. Water temperatures vary from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius, and visibility ranges from as little as 5 meters, all the way up to 45, depending on the season and place. The Greek islands are divided into various groups, and in order for you to adequately imagine just what is hidden within their waters and where you ought go first of all, we’ll offer you a short word on each of them.
Seven large islands and a scattered variety of smaller ones form this archipelago in the Ionian Sea. Corfu, Leukas, Paksi, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Kythera are among them. All of them are characterised by their hilly terrain, absence of strong winds and the purest emerald waters. The best time for diving here is from May to October.
Colovri is undoubtedly Corfu’s most well-known dive site. It's on the western coast and is dominated by a rock surrounded by a labyrinth of boulders, cracks and passes. Here you'll come upon packs of colored antias, shrimps, barracudas, moray eels and other sea creatures. When you swim up to edge of a reef, you'll see the dark descent sinking deep into the abyss; this is a truly impressive dive site. The maximum depth in this place is 40 meters but, even in the shallower waters, you’re sure to be moved by what you see here.
Cathedral is a big open cave with an underwater entrance 3 meters below the surface. There are several chambers in which are contained whole underwater beaches. You'll have the chance to admire stalactites and observe an assemblage of bats and swallows who’re able to fly in through air-filled passages. It's best to not make any loud sounds that might disturb them. When you return to the sea, it's possible to dive along an external wall located 20 meters down which is covered by sponges, mollusks and lobsters, which hide in cracks.
Depths at this dive site range from 14 to 40 meters. The arch is part of a wall and it forms a 20 meter-long curve, which is densely covered by a variety of types of soft and hard corals, sponges and “sea fans.” From the inside the wall is strongly contoured and gives off the feeling of being within a big cave, which opens up toward the top. Be sure not to just float by, though, as you'll find the most interesting things if you swim inside! Diving at the Arch is perfectly suitable for photos because of the abundance of life present here, including starfish, eels, moray eels, octopuses, parrotfish and schools of snappers. This variety allows to dive here repeatedly and every time to receive new impressions.
The Aegean island group finds itself sandwiched between Europe, Asia and Africa. These are not the only islands of the Aegean Sea, but only those that lie in the north of Greece are included here: Lesbos, Samos, Thasos, Chios, Lemnos and others. The nature on each of islands is in its own way interesting, as well as their dive sites. Shall we see what’s hiding under water within this part of Greece?
The Wreck of the Korakas (Lesbos)
The cape Korakas lies off the northeast part of the island, 30 minutes from Petra. This 25 meter-long metal merchant vessel sank in 1943. She lies on her side, her bow resting at a depth of 16 meters, and her stern at 28 meters. The ship is well preserved, and part of its interior can be investigated from within. The area around this wreck is quite interesting too. For example, it's possible to find the big metal anchor, surviving amphoras and heaps of bags which have lain on the bottom since the crash.
San Antonio (Thassos)
If you are planning to dive off Thassos, it's better to go to the city of Potos. A large number of dive sites here are located close to one another, and are suitable both for beginners and those who already possess diving experience. The dive sites of San Antonio include a great wall, a cave, and the most beautiful of coral reefs. All dives are conducted from a boat. The aforementioned wall’s depths range from 4 to 40 meters. Its unique pattern stretches out many meters and leave you feeling as though you’re under hypnosis. There’s no force that can compel you to tear your gaze away from this most vivid landscape. Near the wall, there is a small cave where you can admire soft corals. One 20 minutes boat ride from Potos, there is one more wall that reaches 24 meters down. Large fish and octopuses live there, and the soft currents create the necessary conditions for drift diving.
This group of islands received its name thanks to their arrangement: Naxos, Tinos, Andros, Melos, Paros, Amorgos, Kea, Santorini, Mykonos and the others together form a circle, known in Greek as a “kyklos.” This is perhaps the most well-known and luxurious archipelago in Greece, which has become famous for its snow-white architecture set against its blue waters below. An undoubted plus is the small size of the islands and their proximity to each other, which allows for easy movement between them. Off one of the Kikladsky islands (Kea, to be exact) is a wreck, which excites minds of every technical diver. Sound intriguing? Well here are a few details...
The Wreck of the Britannic (Kea)
Constructed in 1915, this 269 meter-long liner was converted into a hospital ship to transport about 3,000 wounded soldiers. Her double hull and experienced learned from all the mistakes of her infamous sistership Titanic meant that many were confident that she too was unsinkable. But destiny figured differently and, on November 21, 1916, in the Kea Strait, she hit a mine laid by a German submarine. The liner had been on a mission to evacuate wounded and infirm soldiers and nurses had opened the ship’s portholes to air out the cabins before the arrival of their patients. This is a possible reason behind why it took only a few minutes for water to fill the ship and less than an hour for the Britannic to sink. The sinking claimed the lives of about 30 people, and more than 1,000 were saved by fishermen and other vessels that appeared in the nick of time.
In 1975, Jacques Cousteau's expedition set out to find the Britannic and to establish the exact reasons behind its flooding, but the equipment of those years was only able to determine the vessel’s coordinates and to make a superficial inspection of the ship. It was during this expedition that the legendary picture of the huge liner lying on her right side was taken.
It’s been 100 years since this tragedy, and the Britannic has become a kind of Everest for tech divers. During all this time, no more than 10 expeditions have visited the liner. It’s not just the deep water and complexity of mounting a dive here that’s responsible for this, but also the need for special permission for access, which can take several years. The story of this sunken giant touches the souls even of those who’re not interested in diving, so it’s no small wonder that everyone’s waiting to learn more.
Crete — the biggest island of Greece. Here you'll find that special combination of crystal-blue clear waters, severe mountains, impressive caves and famous museums. The soft climate and modern hotels have turned the island into a favorite place for tourists and travelers. As for diving, there are so many dive sites, that they’ll all be vying for your attention. But there is a place which most divers express a special fondness for.
The Elephant’s Cave
Near Hanya is a cave which attracts not only divers, but also scientists and paleontologists. 9 meters down, there is a tunnel which will lead you to an extraordinarily beautiful cave. The arch of a cave is covered by red and orange stalactites, which hang down from a height of ten meters. The cave received its name because of the remains found within it: a skull, teeth, a tibial bone and tusks. Just who they belonged to remains a disputed subject; perhaps a Cretan elephant or mammoth?
The bottom of the cave is covered with pebbles and the water therefore remains transparent and depths range only between 1-4 meters. This is a simple and forgiving dive, but nevertheless very fascinating and suitable for beginners.
You can get more information about Crete here: https://divedisplay.com/destination/crete
There are so many monikers one might assign to Greece! It's a cradle of civilization, a pearl for carefree resorts and relaxation, a cozy corner of the Mediterranean and also the country of myths and legends which has made an invaluable contribution to our modern life. We could write about it forever, but the most important point we’d like you to take away is that it doesn’t matter which part of this great country you choose — your holiday is guaranteed to prove a once in a lifetime experience.