Explore ancient reefs, magnificent gorgonian forests, wrecks and underwater cliffs at this European diving hidden gem. Spain’s dive sites are busy with blue sharks, huge schools of fish, thriving corals and plenty of marine mammals, including whales.
The region of Andalusia, Spain, has a sweeping coastline with an extensive range of dive sites found below the water’s surface. Revel in fast-paced currents observing the ocean sunfish or investigate seabeds for archaeological treasures dating back to the Roman Empire.
East of the Spanish mainland, the underwater landscapes of the Balearic Islands are a treasure to behold. Countless caves are reached after journeying through extensive tunnel-systems while the islands have more than their fair share of shipwrecks. Accessible to all, learn to dive in calm sites or venture through narrow passageways before reaching grottos dripping with stalactites.
The Canary Islands volcanic roots have led to the formation of dramatic underwater landscapes featuring caverns, lava tunnels, and towering arches. Recognised as a special place for marine biodiversity, pilot whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and even the awe-inspiring ocean sunfish may be spotted while diving here.
Nestled in the northeast corner of Spain is the autonomous community known as Catalonia. Known for its majestic mountains, sparkling Mediterranean Sea and bustling metropolitan towns like Barcelona, it is the ideal destination for a holiday. Explore below the surface and be rewarded with caves, wrecks, corals and surprising diversity.
The tranquil Mediterranean around the Valencian Community has long been a favourite of ocean lovers. The sparkling cerulean waters, dramatic rock formations and balmy summer weather draws in millions of tourists a year. Below the waves, the rocks create caves and reefs that are an adventurous playground for divers.
Diving in Spain
Spain is one of the top holiday destinations in Europe, offering a multitude of activities for all adventure seekers and beach bums alike. Boasting a warm Mediterranean climate, with long summers and short, mild winters, vacationers head to Spain all year round to enjoy its thriving culture and nature, both above and below the waves.
Scuba diving in Spain is incredibly underrated, and with so many regions in which to do so, you’re completely spoilt for choice. Most diving areas are easy to reach, and you can dive throughout the year. Summer is the most popular time to dive of course thanks to warmer sea temperatures, but winter still offers fantastic diving opportunities, during which you might want to opt for a thicker wetsuit.
Spain’s vast coastline promises seemingly endless diving adventures, from the Atlantic in the north and the Mediterranean in the south, you can dive no matter where you stay. Explore ancient reefs, sea forests, and delve into an underwater world that is overflowing with just as much history as it is on land, boasting many sunken wrecks and fallen planes from all eras of history. A wide variety of life awaits, from blue sharks in the Bay of Biscay off the northern coast to colorful fish, reefs and coral life thriving along the warm Mediterranean coastline, divers won’t be disappointed wherever they choose to plunge underwater.
In Spain’s northern parts, Galicia, Cantabria, Asturias and the Basque Country may be colder and have less clear water, but this is more than made up for by the huge amounts of marine creatures you can encounter here. Around the Mediterranean near the straits of Gibraltar, you can dive all year round, including in Málaga, Granada, and Cádiz. Here, it is common to spot marine mammals, including whales.
There are also plenty of marine reserves to discover in Spain, like those in La Restinga, La Palma and Isla Graciosa. Cabo de Gata, Cabo de Palos, and the Columbretes Islands, which are all bursting with life.
The majority of diving in Spain is land-based, with lots of dive centers to choose from. Shore diving is common practice, as most dive sites are close to the land, but there are also boat diving possibilities for those that prefer it. There are a few liveaboards that operate around Spain, but there aren’t in huge numbers. Dive resorts can also be found in abundance, so there’s no need to be concerned about availability no matter the time of year.
As for dive courses, Spain is perfect to take almost any certification. From beginner try dives and open water courses, to advanced courses, Spain offers it all, with conditions suitable for every experience level. To take advantage of all that Spain has to offer, it is recommended to have or take your deep diver certification, as some of the amazing underwater seascapes may require extra training. You can also have a great time undertaking wreck training, thanks to Spain’s numerous shipwrecks.
Best time to dive
As Spain is a large country, the climate can vary slightly depending on the location. The weather is mostly sunny and warm, and the Spaniards enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate. Long summers and short, very mild winters make Spain a great diving destination no matter the season. Diving can be done all year round, although the diving high season is normally the summer period from April to October when the air and ocean are warmer.
In general, there is very little rainfall during the summer. There is noticeable more rain during spring, autumn and winter. In the Canary Islands, the average air temperature ranges from 18°C (64°F) in winter to 27°C (80°F) in summer, and water temperature is usually around 17-18°C (63-64°F) in winter and around 24°C (75°F) in summer. The Balearic Islands experience air temperatures ranging from 11°C in winter, to 26°C (51-78°F) in the summer. Water temperatures along the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coast range from 13°C (55°F) in winter to 28°C (82°F) in summer. Visibility here is exceptional, and is normally about 30m (100ft), and can sometimes peak at an impressive 50m (160ft).
Types of diving
The diving possibilities in Spain are seemingly infinite, thanks to such a huge coastline along with tons of smaller islands off the mainland. Overall, you can expect reef, wreck, cave, wall and deep diving in Spain, of which you can do in many places all over the country, with each area being something truly unique to the next.
The main diving regions in Spain are the Medas Islands off the Costa Brava, near Barcelona, which have been protected marine reserves since 1983, the Cap de Creus, the Costa Blanca, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. There are many kinds of dives to enjoy, including rocky reefs, caves, tunnels, walls, volcanic caves and wrecks.
The Balearic Islands, which we made up of four islands, are famous for great visibility and amazing marine life. Majorca/Mallorca boasts epic topography, with awesome cave diving and tunnels. In Menorca, divers can enjoy boat diving, caves, shipwrecks and beautiful marine creatures. Ibiza is home to a magnificent gorgonian forest among its many dive sites, and Formentera is similarly seething with underwater life. These islands also harbour the longest underwater cave in Europe, Sa Gleda cave, so technical divers can add this spot to their to-dive list.
The Canary Islands enjoy an agreeable year-round climate, and boast incredibly clear water. Here, there are seven volcanic islands, of which Tenerife is the most visited by divers due to its marine diversity and varying diving types. Fuerteventura isgrest for divers who want to marvel at rock formations, underwater cliffs and plunging walls. Other notable islands in the area include Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Gomera and La Palma are also worth visiting and offer plenty of marine life with tons of different diving experiences.
Other unmissable dive locations that also offer plenty of varied diving include Barcelona, Benidorm, Costa de Almería (Cabo de Gata), Andalucia’s Costa del Sol, the Valencian Country’s Costa Blanca, Alicante, Malaga, the Basque Country & Cantabrian coasts, Galicia, Asturias’ Costa Verde and Murcia’s Costa Cálida (Cabo de Palos).
Spain’s diving opportunities are not only limited to the sea, as you’ll see if you venture to any of the fantastic lake diving spots. There are many mountainous lakes peppered all over Spain, where you can enjoy ice diving in frozen waters in the winter, and impossibly crystal-clear water diving in spring and summer.
What to see
Marine life in Spain is extremely rich, and divers will be surrounded by life wherever they go. Some life varies depending on the season and location, like in the summer, when colourful jellyfish visit the coasts, while monkfish and John Dory stop by in winter.
In the Gibraltar Strait, orcas and dolphins have been spotted on occasion. In the Canary and Balearic Islands, you can find life in all forms and sizes, from cute macro life like nudibranchs and seahorses, to barracuda and even finback whales if you’re lucky.
In the North of Spain, the rougher and cooler Cantabrian Sea dive sites shouldn’t be missed, as sightings of somewhat rarer creatures are possible, such as the blue shark or the moonfish.
Overall at many dive sites all around Spain, expect to see a variety of sponges and an array hard corals and soft corals species at many sites. Neptune grass, schools of jacks and barracuda, groupers, eagle rays and stingrays, bonito, wrasses, moray and garden eels, pufferfish, bream, angel and blue sharks, parrotfish, roncadores, octopus, seven species of turtle, dolphins, and even whales, can all be encountered depending where you dive.
Best places to dive
Situated off the Costa Brava coast and are thought to be among some of the best that the Mediterranean offers. As they’re protected marine reserves, life here is vibrant and thriving, and due to its popularity with divers, much if the life here is accustomed to being around people, meaning close critter encounters are possible.
The Balearic Islands
Located East of the Spanish mainland, are another set of wondrous islands including Majorca, Ibiza and Menorca, that offer warm Mediterranean diving in crystal-clear water. With over 80 dive sites to choose from, divers can explore dramatic caves, underwater cliffs, and wrecks all covered in colorful life. These islands are also home to the largest shipwreck in the Mediterranean, the Don Pedro, just off Ibiza.
The seven Canary Islands boast hundreds of amazing dive sites, where you’ll be bewildered by breathtaking underwater topography and colorful fauna and Flora. A famous site on Lanzarote is the Museo Atlantico, which as the name suggests, is an underwater museum, which is an exceptionally popular site and unique experience that shouldn’t be missed. Gran Canaria, Tenerife & La Gomera aslo offer some great dive options.
The Cabo de Gata is a marine reserve located south of Spain, and thanks to its protection, it is one of the most untouched parts in the Mediterranean Sea. Sandy and rocky bottoms make this spot perfect for hunting critters. Divers can also discover historical wrecks here, where groupers and barracuda live.
Murcia and Islas Hormigas Marine Park is definitely worth a visit, as it’s home to a wealth of vibrant marine life, including shoals of barracuda, sunfish, enormous groupers, octopus, eagle rays, eels, and plenty of adorable macro creatures, like nudibranch and seahorses. You can also enjoy wreck dives in the park, and from August to October, pelagics come to the area, including jacks, tuna and dentex, where they perform massive feeding frenzies.
Finally, the Columbretes volcanic archipelago is major natural marine reserve that’s been heavily protected against fishing. Though they’re further away from the mainland, they're worth the journey, as you can meet giant lobsters, encounter huge schools of fish and see beautiful red coral.