Greece’s largest island, Crete has 650 miles of ever-changing volcanic coastline, dotted with underwater caves, impressive arches, canyons and thriving reefs. New divers will appreciate shallow seagrass beds teeming with fish, whilst experienced divers explore caves, WWII wrecks and deep walls. All of which are surrounded by crystal-clear warm waters.
Diving in Crete
Greece’s largest island, Crete has 650 miles of ever-changing coastline, dotted with sandy bays, striking pink sand beaches, cliffs and dramatic caves. The scenery underwater is equally as diverse and impressive, creating a veritable playground for scuba divers.
There are dozens of impressive dive sites dotted all around Crete, with some of the best diving on the peaceful south coast. Go Crete diving by day and you can explore underwater rock formations, thriving reefs busy with marine life and sunlit arches. But make sure you leave time to head underwater when the sun goes down. Crete is one of the most popular Greek Islands for night diving, where you can see dive sites come alive in an entirely new way.
Crete’s unique caves attract divers from around the world to dive sites including Elephant Cave, where you can see the fossilized remains of an ancient elephant. The numerous shipwrecks around the island bring Crete’s rich history and ancient culture to life before your eyes.
With numerous top dive locations to choose from, scuba diving in Crete offers something for every diver preference and experience level. Take a dive course in Crete at any of the Crete dive centers - found all along the northern coast and near top dive spot Schinaria on the south coast. There are also dive hotels, dive centers and boat diving available.
Sitting in the warm clear Aegean Sea, Crete hosts abundant marine life and is well-known for its excellent water visibility. The reefs and wrecks are home to a colorful array of reef fish, plus lionfish, scorpionfish, moray eels, conger eels, octopi and nudibranchs. Look closely to find shrimps tucked in crevices and rare black corals.
You can also catch sight of huge groupers, stingrays and sometimes even dolphins. For the best chance to see passing loggerhead sea turtles and barracuda, go diving in Crete from September to November.
Best places to dive
Ask any diver where to go diving in Crete and they will mention Chania. One of the most popular areas for diving in Crete, Chania has beautiful stone arches, exciting caves and shipwrecks. All populated with unique marine life including stunning black corals.
If you go diving at Chania, don’t miss Elephant’s Cave. This partially filled underwater cave is home to impressive red and white stalagmites and stalactites, plus the fossilized remains of an extinct elephant. Áyii Theódori Island off Chania is known for its endangered wild goats and offers peaceful diving, with shallow entries and gentle slopes. The island’s seagrass beds host numerous fish, and you can also find a huge old anchor and ancient amphorae there.
Nearby Rethimno has numerous crystal-clear lagoons offering easy diving, plus underwater canyons and cave openings swathed in colorful corals and sponges.
The capital city of Crete, Heraklion is also another great place to go Crete diving. There you will find caves, reefs and fascinating wrecks. The Messerschmitt wreck, a WWII German airplane, sits upside down at 25 meters deep. St. George is another popular dive site off Heraklion and is a spectacular wall dive.
Also known as Skinaria, is one of Crete’s best dive spots and a must for marine life fans. The seabed off pretty Schinaria Beach hosts a staggering variety of moray eels, fish, octopi and other species in abundance. With crystal-clear waters and easy shore diving, it is a great Crete diving destination for families. That said, experienced divers will no doubt enjoy the thrilling wall dives, drop-offs and an impressive cave dive also found there.
Take a short scenic drive from Schinaria to nearby Plakias and you’ll find Damnoni Old Harbor dive site. This historic tiny harbor takes you back in time and has shallow dive areas rich in marine life. But don’t be fooled by the pretty shallows, you can also go wall diving there down to 40 meters deep. It might not be the easiest Crete dive site to reach, but it is worth it.
The capital of Lasithi, is an ideal place to learn to scuba dive or try freediving in warm clear waters. With easy shallow dives for beginners and deep divers for advanced divers, it’s easy to see why Lasithi is so popular. There are craggy landscapes, plunging walls and seagrass beds to dive plus a handful of WWII wrecks. Explosion I is one of the most exciting dives sites in the area. The site of an explosion during WWII, this dive site still has military objects, an impressive wall, huge groupers and passing pelagics.