Sicily Diving

The beautiful island of Sicily has been seducing tourists for centuries with its juxtaposition of sparkling turquoise waters, towering smoky volcanoes and dream-like mountain meadows. Below the surface; the ancient cultural treasures, caves and 40m visibility of this Italian island will delight divers.


Diving in Sicily

Situated at the southern tip of Italy, the island of Sicily has long been known as the “Crossroads of the Mediterranean”. Its location between Italy and the North African coast means that it has been sequentially colonised by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginian and Roman empires, leaving Sicily brimming with evidence of these ancient cultures and civilisations. 

The island is volcanic in nature and Europe’s largest volcano, Etna, dominates the landscape with its smoking hull. A rugged coastline embraces this mountainous island where it meets the pristine, sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Sicily is a popular European tourist destination and scuba diving in Sicily is popular. Most dive centres and dive resorts are found in the towns closest to the dive sites like Trapani, Palermo, Catania, Syracuse, Favignana, San Vito Lo Capo, Pantelleria, Aegadian Islands, Aeolian Islands and Lipari, though there are others dotted around the coastline. 

Diving in Sicily is possible year round, though the most popular season is between May and October, where the weather and the water are warmest, usually in the high 20s. Winter water temperatures crop as low as 15oC, necessitating a thick wetsuit. Visibility is famously good and can exceed 40m. 

Dive sites around Sicily are varied. Though the majority of dive sites are calm, certain sites can experience swift drift dives. The diverse topography creates towering pinnacles, dramatic walls like Punta Negra and caves with stalactites and stalagmite to explore, like Grotta Azzura. You can also find meadows of seagrass and rocky areas populated with corals. There are a number of shipwrecks in the waters surrounding Sicily, including modern wrecks and ancient Roman remains. 

Several of these ancient sites, like Grinders Wreck and Amphorae have been painstakingly cleared by archaeologists. The result is something like an underwater museum in which you can see ancient pottery jars which once transported olive oil and win throughout the region. Some of these artefacts date back to the 4th century BC. It is a fascinating opportunity to dive through Sicily’s diverse history. 

The marine life around Sicily is typical of the Mediterranean region. Throughout the Mediterranean Sea, overfishing is a big problem but divers will still find plenty of things to see. Whilst it is possible at certain sites to see big species like sharks, turtles, dolphins and manta rays, it is very, very unusual. There is no coral reef system in the Mediterranean but there are plenty of corals and sponges such as gorgonian sea fans. Fish like groupers, sea bream, anthias, damselfish are abundant and you can sometimes see flying gurnards or big schools of barracuda. Within the reef, conger and moray eels can often be seen emerging from crevices in the rocks along with octopus, lobster and shrimp. A variety of nudibranch species make macro hunting popular amongst photographers.   

Scuba diving in Sicily is incredibly diverse with numerous highlights. Whether you are a first time diver, experienced pro or professional photographer looking for that perfect cave silhouette shot, there is a dive in Sicily for you!

Best places to dive

Capo Boeo - 45 minutes from Trapani is this archaeological gem. There is a maximum depth of 10m, perfect for beginners, with artefacts like amphorae (stone jars) and anchors. Many have been labeled with small underwater signs so snorkelers and divers can easily identify objects, some of which are over 2,000 years old. 

Capua - This wreck of a British built cargo ship sunk during WW11 and makes for a fascinating dive. It is located between 28 and 37m. 
Wreck of Korans - Also known as the Kent, this ship sunk in 1973 near San Vito Lo Capo. Though a popular and well preserved dive site, its depth of 45-52m makes it unsuitable for those without a deep or wreck diving specialty. 

Ustica - A tiny island near Palermo, this site is the first Italian marine reserve and the seabed is picturesque and beautiful - white sands, crystal clear turquoise water, lots of fish - it doesn’t get any better!
The Cathedral - This 30m deep cave in the Egadi Islands is a spectacular dive. The cave is filled with majestic stalactites and stalagmites, making for epic photos silhouetted against the sunlit blue ocean. 

Panerea - This site in the Aeolian Islands features fumaroles - streams of tiny volcanic bubbles which are pushing themselves out of the rocks. Swimming through them is a pleasant and bizarre experience. There is also a wreck - the Lisca Bianca.

Linosa - Located on the Pelagie archipelago, this island has lots of beautiful dive sites. A popular one is Sacchitella, which has two pinnacles of 4 and 12m. There is also a deep pinnacle of 70m - not for the faint-hearted!

Sciara del Fuoco - Found on the volcanic island of Stromboli, this site has lots of sponges and Gorgonian fans nestled amongst the black, volcanic rocks. Explore the numerous craters which pock the underwater landscape. 

Shoal of Colombara - This site has abundant fish - dive amongst huge schools of snappers, bream, amberjack, barracuda and salps, whilst hidden in the rocks you can find lobster, shrimps and worms. 

Other places to dive in Italy