Costa Brava Diving
Costa Brava has some of the most spectacular diving in the Mediterranean. The rippling seagrass meadows, ancient wrecks and rugged underwater topography creates a veritable playground for experienced scuba divers, while the clear, turquoise waters and easy-entry shore dives are ideal for complete dive novices.
Diving in the Costa Brava
Stretching from Blanes, 60km north of Barcelona, to the French border, the Costa Brava (or “wild coast”) is one of the most rugged and beautiful areas of Spain. This picturesque region of Catalonia features pretty seaside towns like Lloret del Mar against the backdrop of 214km of coastline.
Diving in Costa Brava has long been popular. There are dive centres scattered along the coast, all offering beginner dive courses all the way up to divemaster, with some dive resorts scattered in too. Liveaboards aren’t big business here, all the dive sites are fairly close to shore, but there are some found in the nearby Balearic Islands. A big bonus of the dive centres found here is their long establishment, and many are true pioneers of the sport.
The variety of flora and fauna around the Costa Brava is extraordinary. There are several protected marine parks, such as the Medes island and Cap de Creus Natural Park, which add to the diversity and make for excellent dives. The topography also creates caves and tunnels to explore, alongside the wrecks found here. Considering the pleasant and simple shore dives also on offer, Costa Brava diving truly is ideal for all.
Best time to dive
Diving in Costa Brava is possible year round due to the temperate, Mediterranean climate. The summers are defined by hot, dry days and balmy nights. The air temperatures sit in the high 20s and 30s, while the water temperatures peak at 23oC in July and August. Though mild, most people require a wetsuit to dive at all times. The months between May and September are high season, when holiday makers from around the world flock to sun themselves here. As a result, places book up fast, it is busier and prices may increase.
The winters can be cold here, with air temperatures dropping to below 10oC in January and February. The water temperatures also dip to 13oC, with some companies offering drysuit dives. The rainiest season is from September to November, though rainstorms can occur at any time. Some companies close during this low season, so check before you book!
Types of diving
The dramatic limestone cliffs in this area of the Mediterranean are riddled with caves and caverns, many of which are ideal for divers to explore - safely, with a qualified guide. This structure also gives rise to craggy topography on the ocean floor, fun swim throughs and dramatic overhangs where you can look for marine life. One point of interest is the volume of bright gorgonian fans and corals, in many other nearby regions, growth is limited to below 20m.
Ancient wrecks adorn the sea bed due to the aforementioned rocky coastline, lucky for future divers, less so for the people on board. These now form artificial reefs and they are usually teeming with life. Currents can be strong at some sites, leading to exhilarating drift dives. The visibility is usually around 20m but can decrease near the outlet of the River Ter due to algal blooms.
What to see
The stereotype of the Mediterranean, long held by divers, is that is now lacking in fish life due to overfishing. Though this is certainly true of some destinations, it doesn’t ring true for Costa Brava diving. There are large volumes of fish here, helped along by the unusually abundant corals and sponges.
Bream, wrasse, sea bass, sea bream, red mullets and scorpionfish are all reef dwellers, common sights in these waters. Octopus and cuttlefish are abundant here. Bigger fish like barracuda and tuna can be seen in huge schools. Other things you may seen lurking in the rocky reefs are nudibranch, spider crabs, crayfish, lobster, stingrays, starfish, moray eels, conger eels and enormous grouper. Some of these groupers are over 25 years old, and very big!
More rarely, you may find some bigger species. Eagle rays are common enough, as are turtles. Sharks sometimes venture into these waters and dolphins frequently accompany boats, though divers more rarely. One particular treat is the opportunity to see mola mola (or sunfish), one of the biggest fish in the world.
Best places to dive
Medes Islands - This marine reserve, found off the coast of L’Estartit, has some stunning dive sites. This archipelago is protected from fishing and the abundance of life is apparent.
Reggio Messina - This 115m long wreck sits at 28m - 25m. It was deliberately sunk and is the largest wreck on the Costa Brava, It is now an interesting dive site with lots of life.
Cap de Creus - This large marine reserve near the Bay of Roses features reefs, gorgonian covered rocks and interesting caves. It’s protected, and so, abundant with fish. Whales have been seen on the surface from here.
Formigues Islands - These 16 islets, between Palamos and Palafrugell, have interesting topography, made up of boulders and caves. There are many gorgonians and a great wreck called The Boreas.
Ullastres - These pinnacles, which plunge down to 50m+, are teeming with fish life. Schools of sardines, barracuda and jacks await experienced divers.
Coves de Cala Viuda - Up the coast from Escala, these caves are carved in the cliff face. They range in depth between 7 and 23m and are a great first dip into the cave diving world. Limestone rock formations, sunlight glowing through the turquoise water and a seemingly never ending maze of tunnels and air filled chambers, mean that this one is unmissable
The top dive centers are the Tossasub Diving Center, Orca Diving Centre and Lassdive.
Open Water Diver prices range from €340-€399. See all Open Water Diver courses in the Costa Brava.
Advanced Adventurer prices range from €290-€330. See all Advanced Adventurer courses in the Costa Brava.
You can obtain your Advanced Adventurer in L Estartit.
You can obtain your Enriched Air Nitrox in L Estartit.