Rich in history and mythology, ancient ruins exist within the Grecian oceans. Wrecks of submarines, ships, and aircraft lie on the seabed while white-faced cliffs are decorated with caves, swim-throughs, and canyons for divers to explore. Discover sperm whales, dolphins, and the rare monk seal.
Diving in Greece
Greece, with the Ionian Sea to the left and the Aegean to the right has more than 240 inhabited islands and a significant amount of coastline, visitors admiring Greece’s iconic blue roofs and whitewashed buildings will find plenty of impressive dive sites as they follow the call of the ocean and head underwater.
Greece has a prominent seafaring history, which has led to a multitude of wrecks lying on the surrounding seabed. Due to the fascinating artefacts spread out across the seafloor, before 2006, scuba diving in Greece was restricted to just a small portion of the coastline. Today, the restrictions have been lifted and Greece diving is gaining in popularity - making it important for divers to only look and not to touch!
Dive centers and dive resorts are located all over the Greek islands, with each island offering something slightly different to the next. Plunge into Chios Island to find vertical walls, caverns and numerous shipwrecks or experience Mykonos’ stunning rock formations while swimming among monk seals. Venture into a labyrinth of lava tubes, caverns and caves formed in Santorini’s volcanic past while technical divers can search the sister ship of the Titanic, the Brittanic, for its residing marine life.
Travelling between Greece’s neighbouring islands is relatively easy yet, to save time, charter a Grecian liveaboard. Via liveaboard, you’ll be able to explore the best dive sites in half the time. If you intend to earn a new certification, there are several reputable dive centres and dive resorts operating dive courses - from Open Water to an Instructor Development Course. Greece is an excellent place to learn how to dive as there is usually great visibility, warm water and no current, while the number of wrecks lends itself to the need for a wreck diving certification.
Best time to dive
Scuba diving in Greece is great throughout the year, but winter can get particularly chilly. This makes the summer months the best time to dive with the warmest temperatures arriving around July to August. Many divers also recommend diving in May, October, and November as the prices are lower, there are fewer crowds while below the water’s surface and the diving conditions are still impressive.
In the summer, water temperatures range from 16℃ to 27℃, dependant on the site, sea and island - so it is important to research the specific location before you dive! Also dependant on the area and time of year, the visibility ranges from 6 metres to more than 50 metres.
If you are a shark-fanatic, the best time to visit Greece is June through to August, when the reef sharks come to the area to breed. When scuba diving in Mykonos or the Alonissos Island National Marine Park during April and May it is possible to see monk seals while also in April and May, dolphins and turtles can be seen gliding through the waters of the Gulf of Corinth.
Types of diving
Greece’s Aegean Sea has some of the most popular dive sites, especially around the islands of Naxos and Mykonos. Here, divers can explore the 63-metre long cargo ship of Anna 2 Wreck, the seaplane wreck of the Arado 196 and a myriad of caverns and caves which can be easily reached from the shore. Athens is a tech-divers dream, with several fascinating shipwrecks, many of which sunk during historic battles. Also in The Cyclades, Santorini offers shallow rocky reefs as well as walls plunging beyond 200-metres while northwest of Kea Island lies the wreck of the Britannic, the sister ship to the Titanic.
The North Aegean Islands hold Chios Island, with its many small undersea caves, colourful reefs, vertical walls, and shipwrecks. Nearby, Halkidiki is known for the plunging dive site of ‘The Wall’. At the Dodecanese islands, discover Rhodes’ historic character as you explore the WWII ruins and ancient artifacts that rest in the surrounding waters. In the Ionian Sea, the seven Ionian Islands offer impressive scuba diving. Search in clear waters for marine life taking refuge in Corfu’s underwater caves and arches while between Zante and Kefalonia it’s possible to dive the WWII submarine wreck of the HMS Perseus.
While diving in Crete, there are plenty of beginner shore dives, such as Shinaria Bay, for novice divers to enjoy as they float among thousands of reef fish. Those who are more experienced can head deeper into walls and caves.
What to see
The Aegean and Ionian Seas have an impressive collection of nudibranch, invertebrates, crabs, moray eel, seahorses, and other easily overlooked critters. If you want to see the bigger megafauna, there is a good chance to see dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth. The sheltered and calm waters of the gulf are ideal for sighting dolphins as they glide through the water. Loggerhead turtles can be seen floating gracefully in the reefs at Zante while during the months of April, May and June you may catch one laying eggs on the beach!
Off the coast of Rhodes, the gentle-tempered and slow moving basking shark can be witnessed. The second biggest of the shark family, the harmless basking shark swim about, mouth gaping, trying to swallow up any plankton and krill they can find. The largest mammal to grace the waters surrounding Greece is the sperm whale. There are two well-known locations for sperm whale sightings, the Hellenic Trench and the Aegean Sea. The deep waters of the trench are the whales favourite hunting spot however only large, fully equipped vessels patrol here. In the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Mykonos, sperm whales are spotted between the months of May and September.
The rarest of all seals is the monk seal. A cave-dwelling species with only 600 individuals left in the wild. The seal is very tough to find but a trip to Alonissos Island National Marine Park is the best bet. Here, a stable population feed and rest in the coast’s network of caves.
Best places to dive
Lying at a depth of 24-metres, the German World War II fighter aircraft, Messerschmitt 109, invites divers to step back in history. The wreck of the airplane can be found lying upside down on Crete’s seabed, broken into several pieces. Divers can observe a machine gun and ammunition belt while a host of large groupers and moray eel surround the wreck. Elsewhere, lying off the coast of Kea Island, the sister ship to the Titanic, the Brittanic, is accessible for technical divers to explore its coral-encrusted body.
On Mykonos’ coastline, the Dragonisi Island Caverns are an underwater photographer’s dream. Stunning rock formations and caverns are lit by ethereal shafts of light which illuminate the scales of thousands of glassfish. Lucky divers will encounter curious monk seal dropping by to spy on what the divers are doing. At Santorini, The Caves dive site hosts a labyrinth structure of swim-throughs, caverns, and canyons. For an entirely unique experience, you can even stay overnight in a cave - with a few of Santorni’s hotels hosting guests in caves eroded into the cliffside.
A 25-minute drive from the town of Naxos, The Dome is an air-filled dome dripping with stalactites. The large cavern is an excellent spot for spotting sea anemones, scorpion fish, shrimps and cave crabs that are often seen on the cave walls. The 20-metre high dome is lit by a celestial blue light and makes for a completely unforgettable experience.