Gran Canaria Diving
With 550 different species of fish, both tropical and temperate, and incredible volcanic rock formations with arches, caves and tunnels, Gran Canaria diving has some of the best dive sites in Europe. Explore sheltered bays as a novice diver or venture into narrow cave-systems in search of cave-dwelling stingrays and lobster.
Diving in Gran Canaria
Located southeast of Tenerife, Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in the Canary Islands belonging to Spain. Surrounded by 236 kilometres of coastline and a multitude of impressive dive sites, Gran Canaria is known as one of the best places to dive in Europe. The island’s volcanic origins have led to the formation of incredible topography below the water’s surface, from cave-systems to series of arches and tunnels. Wrecks can be explored as well as several impressive natural reef ecosystems, thriving with island grouper - endemic to the Canaries - and angel shark. Gran Canaria and the associated Canary Islands have been recognised as a special place for marine biodiversity, with marine species from the Mediterranean, the Carribean, the Atlantic as well as from Africa.
Located around Gran Canaria are several dive centres and dive resorts ready to help you explore the surrounding blue. Many of the dive centres will use their own vessels to visit dive sites nearby to them while also offering transport to all of the other impressive sites of Gran Canaria. Many of the dive centres are certified to run dive courses, where Discover Scuba to Divemaster certification is possible. To the north, the capital Las Palmas is an important stop for the liveaboards visiting the Canary Islands.
Best time to dive
Many of the local people - Canarios - will say that Gran Canaria offers an eternal spring, with mild temperatures and sunshine throughout the year. July and August are the hottest months of the year, with water temperature oscillating between 20 °C and 24 °C. In January to February, the accommodation rates are the highest due to the high number of tourists. The best time for scuba diving in Gran Canaria is between April and October when the water temperature is the most comfortable and there are fewer tourists, however, most of the dive centres are open year-round.
Beneath the surface, visibility often stretches beyond 30-metres with a whole host of marine life to witness. In Gran Canaria’s winter and spring, there is a greater chance of encountering angel sharks, filefish and rays while seahorse and triggerfish are more common in the summer. Throughout the year, whales and dolphins can be spotted riding the waves off the coast.
Types of diving
In the waters surrounding the resort towns of Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés, and Puerto Rico, there are numerous coves and bays ideal for novice dive courses and a few off-shore dive sites such as Pasito Blanco, are relatively easy dives at depths between 15-25 metres. There are also several small wreck sites such as the Mogan Wrecks. The best diving area of the island is unquestionably the Arinaga Marine Reserve on the east coast, better known as El Cabron. Here, caves, tunnels, and arches are found cut into the volcanic rock.
The north-west coast is largely inaccessible as it is subjected to strong swells so the only site frequented is Sardina del Norte, a shallow shore dive between reefs and rocks. At La Palmas in the northeast, the best wreck diving can be found, with La Catedral - a cavern dive - being the other most significant site.
What to see
With marine species from the Meditteranean, the Carribean, the Atlantic Ocean and from Africa, the Canary Islands are known for their marine biodiversity. In fact, the Canary Islands have 550 different species of fish and over 1,000 invertebrates. There are very few coral reefs in Gran Canaria but fish are present in high numbers, from the endemic island grouper to large schools of barracuda surrounding wrecks. The jewel of Gran Canaria diving is the angel shark, a flat-bodied bottom feeder which is critically endangered and a pleasure to watch gliding along the sandy seabed.
Nudibranchs appear early in spring and then persist throughout summer, decorating sites with their brightly-coloured patterning. The African cuttlefish can be seen hovering with it’s pulsating ‘skirt’ while the common stingray and marbled electric ray are often witnessed. Although the seahorse population has declined sharply over the last 50 years, lucky divers will use eagle eyes to find them clinging to soft corals. During the day it is possible to see the nocturnal butterfly ray sleeping on the sand while round rays can often be found in caves or under large rocks. Several colourful moray eels can be spotted in cracks and crevasses, such as the tiger moray.
The Canary Islands have around 400 resident pilot whales and numerous visiting dolphins, so ensure to keep an eye out into the blue to watch as they crest the ocean surface, almost camouflaged against the waves.
Best places to dive
As well as being one of Spain’s finest urban beaches, Las Canteras is a great dive site. The barrier reef, the Barra de Las Canteras is ideal for beginners who can dive to depths from 8 to 18-metres. Sardina del Norte is another site where many dive centres initiate novice divers. Look out for seahorse and angel shark while exploring this sheltered bay. Located off the old coast, near to Maspalomas, is the reef of Pasito Blanco. With a maximum depth of 19-metres, keep an eye out for moray eels and stingrays taking refuge in the coral reef.
Known as one of the top 10 dive sites in Europe, El Cabron is one of the three marine reserves in the Canary Islands. With several routes, ideal for divers of all levels, the natural arches, caves and tunnels of the site will leave every diver in awe at the beauty of the site. It is estimated that in excess of 400 species of marine flora and fauna can be found at El Cabron - with a large area of seagrass which forms a huge nursery in spring for many of Gran Canaria’s species. Advanced divers can explore the impressive La Catedral dive site, which earned its nickname from the distinctive rock formations found here. Prepare to drop from a depth of 6-metres all the way to 40-metres.
There are dive centers in Taurito, Arguineguin and Las Palmas.
The top dive centers are the Delphinus Gran Canaria, Canary Diving Adventures and Scuba Sur Gran Canaria.
Discover Scuba Diving prices range from €75-€80. See all Discover Scuba Diving courses in Gran Canaria.
Bubblemaker Program prices range from €40-€65. See all Bubblemaker Program courses in Gran Canaria.
You can obtain your Advanced Open Water Diver in Arguineguin.
Diving is available in Arguineguin, Las Palmas and Taurito.