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Diving in Spain

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In Spain you can practise all kinds of recreational diving: ice diving, night diving, wreck diving, cave diving, snorkelling, etc. The possibilities are endless and the marine life is varied, making its coastlines perfect for any diving enthusiast. There are options for both beginners and experienced divers.

WHY SPAIN

Situated in the south of Europe, Spain is almost entirely surrounded by water: its coasts are washed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean, the colder Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and its beaches are known for being exceptionally clean.Thanks to Spain's pleasant climate, you can go diving all year round.Plus, it has more than ten Marine Reserves.There are many diving centres that organise diving courses for different levels and specialities, and also take care of getting permits and boat transfers to the coast.There are also diving clubs that organise activities such as underwater archaeology seminars, underwater photography, etc.You can also practise other water sports or go on a trip to watch cetaceans.

Scuba divers

WHAT YOU NEED FOR RECREATIONAL DIVING IN SPAIN

If you are coming to Spain and want to make the most of your trip to start practising this sport, here are some things you need to know:You must have a certificate that proves you have the required training in order to dive safely. In Spain there are many companies, as well as official federations, that issue these certificates, such as ACUC, CMAS, IAC, IDA, IDEA, PADI, SSI, etc, and they can also help you to plan your diving holidays.You don't need to be federated to practise recreational diving, but you do need insurance. You can usually get insurance through diving centres and training organisations. In other words, it should be included in the course you take.You have to present an affidavit stating that you are in good health, through a questionnaire provided by the centre organising the activity.In any case, the diving centres on the Spanish coast will give you the information you need, take care of the paperwork and lend you equipment. Qualified instructors will take good care of you.

IF YOU ALREADY HAVE DIVING CERTIFICATION

If you already have an internationally recognised qualification, you can use it to go diving in Spain. We advise you to bring your certificate, dive log book, medical certificate and diving insurance.Always take into account Spanish diving regulations, which include rules like the following:The minimum age for diving in Spain depends on the region. However, nationally it is 8 years old.The maximum legal depth for diving in Spain for minors under 18 ranges from 6 to 40 metres, depending on their age.

BEST TIMES OF THE YEAR

Although you can go diving all year round, most courses take place from March to November.

Diving off the Medes Islands, Girona (Catalonia)

AREAS

Each place has its own charm (water visibility, pleasant temperatures, etc.), so, to help you decide, here is a description of the 11 national Marine Reserves, which are perfect for this activity:Cabo de Gata-Níjar. In Almería (Andalusia). It is home to the southernmost Posidonia Oceanica meadows, coral forms and colourful fish. There are boats that take you to coves such as Cala Chica and San Pedro.Isla de Alborán. Also in Almería. Did you know that its name is thought to come from Al-Borani, a pirate from Almería? Legend has it that he used to take refuge on the island and hide his treasures there.

Cabo de Palos – Islas Hormigas. Still in the Mediterranean, but in the Region of Murcia. As well as Posidonia Oceanica meadows and underwater mountains, you can find huge groupers and barracudas, and occasionally sunfish and eagle rays. And if you are really adventurous, there are sunken ships like the SS Sirio, the famous transatlantic steamer.Cabo Tiñoso. Still in Murcia, this cape has impressive almost vertical walls that descend as much as 70 metres below the surface, forming the habitat of a wide variety of Mediterranean native flora and fauna, including seagrass meadows. This marine landscape is also notable for its underwater caves and artificial reefs.Levante de Mallorca – Cala Ratjada. The eastern coast of the island of Mallorca offers underwater caves and Posidonia oceanica meadows. Groupers and red lobsters can be found here. Interesting places to go diving include the areas known as "Queso", La Catedral and La Mula, to name a few.

Seabed

Islas Columbretes. Also in the Mediterranean Sea but in Castellón, these are four volcanic islets. They are surrounded by steep underwater walls and are home to species like the red coral. Find out about the boats that can take you there from Castellón and Valencia ports. Once you are there, there are companies that organise diving activities and even dinner on a boat under the stars.Isla de Tabarca. Situated in the province of Alicante. Here you can also find Posidonia oceanica meadows. You can get to the island by boat from Alicante, Santa Pola or Benidorm. You'll be able to see reefs where large groupers and schools of barracudas live, and you can even spot sunken ships.

Isla de Tabarca, Alicante (Region of Valencia)

Masía Blanca. 50 kilometres north of the city of Tarragona. The Posidonia oceanica meadows make up a labyrinth that is teeming with species, including octopus, cuttlefish, grouper, bream and bass.Isla Graciosa. In the north of the island of Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, Graciosa and islets in the Chinijo Archipelago make up this marine reserve. The colours of the seabed are spectacular thanks to sponges and red and yellow sea fans. You can spot pufferfish, trumpetfish and triggerfish. Its waters never go under 18ºC in winter.La Palma. This is another island in the Canaries that reaches a depth of up to 1,000 metres. There are beds of tropical anemones. Bottlenose dolphins and loggerhead turtles can also be spotted. Imagine swimming into a cave and searching the depths of the sea following lava flows. This can be done because of the volcanic nature of the Canary Islands. 

La Restinga – Mar de las Calmas. On El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands. High-sea species visit the island's waters, like the whale shark and giant manta ray. Sea turtles and dolphins can also be spotted. The temperature of the water ranges from 18 to 25 degrees. If you love photography, don't miss Open Fotosub Isla de El Hierro, which takes place every year.More areas. As well as state-run Marine Reserves, there are other well-known reserves and areas in Spain where you can go diving.  In Catalonia you have Los Ullastres, the Islas Formigues, Cap de Creus, Ses Negres, and especially, the Medes Islands, which for many centuries were a pirate refuge. There you can swim beside shoals of groupers or through the corridor known as "Túnel de la Vaca".In Galicia you can go diving in Islas Atlánticas National Park, where the famous Cíes Islands are situated. Would you like to see large octopuses and turbots?

Scuba diving

All the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands are perfect for scuba diving. For example – have you heard about the sea turtles that reach Formentera after travelling hundreds of miles, all the way from the Gulf of Mexico?There are many places all around the Spanish coast: why don't you try diving in the waters of the Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria or other parts of Andalusia?

Seabed off La Palma, Canary Islands

TIPS

  • Marine Reserves (and other areas, too) set conditions for access to underwater activities, and usually require prior authorisation. You can get more detailed information from the Spanish government Marine Reserves website and the Ibero-American Marine Reserves Network website.
  • Don't go diving if you are going to catch a plane in the next 24 hours (because of the risk of decompression sickness).

  • Although bringing compressed air bottles into Spain is legal, it is not advisable (because they are hard to carry) or necessary, because they can be hired from diving centres.

  • Remember that the diving equipment you need depends on the area and the time of year. Bear in mind that the water temperature can range from about 10 to 26 ºC.

  • If you have any questions or need advice on where to go for a course, we recommend getting in touch with the Spanish Federation of Underwater Activities (FEDAS) or the Spanish Recreational Diving Association (ABRE).

  • You can also check our section of practical health and safety tips to find out more about healthcare in Spain.
  • Given that the recommendations and regulations provided may change, we advise you always to check the requirements before starting out on your journey.

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