If you enjoy scuba diving there is some excellent diving to be had in Lanzarote, Canary Islands in the Atlantic ocean.
A Little Lanzarote History
The Canaries are officially part of Spain and in 1986, became members of the EEC1. However, luckily for inhabitants and visitors, they have a tax-exempt status which makes the Canaries a gadget hunter's paradise with many shops advertising 'lowest prices on the island' for most types of cameras, watches and other electronic goods.
The climate is good all year round and the temperatures in winter rarely fall below 16°C, or in summer below 25°C. The steady breeze in the summer takes the edge off the higher midday temperatures which makes it a very pleasant place to be.
It is possible to see a fantastic variety of fish in the clear Atlantic waters off Lanzarote. There are over 500 different types listed and most of these can be seen at different times of the year. Divers will find a variety of different types of dive site including an area designated as an underwater conservation park which has a number of interesting wrecks. Visibility is a very good ten to 30 metres plus depending on the tides.
There are a number of dive schools on the west side of the island. Most of these have to drive to the Playa de la Barrilla bay near the old town of Puerto del Carmen. Only one of these, Safari Diving, have their premises right on the beach and they are a very friendly outfit run by a Dutch couple Rene and Dea van Leeuwen. Language is not a problem and visitors from all over the world are made to feel very welcome.
The standards of safety are very high with pre-dive briefings in a number of languages before every dive. All levels of diver are catered for and the dives are varied to suit. Beach dives are available every morning and boat dives on most afternoons. The night diving is also first class. Full kit hire is also available including dive computers and all dives are kept within no-decompression limits. The changing facilities are a bit cramped being right on the beach but this does add to the atmosphere.
The Cathedral can be accessed from the beach outside Safari Diving (Playa de la Barrilla). If you surface swim to the left of the bay and then free descend to 14m. Then follow along the reef to the left and over a drop-off which leads down to the 'Cathedral' at approximately 30 metres. The 'Cathedral' is a large cave, with no clear view to surface, which funnels down towards the rear. There are alcoves of finger coral and small shrimp and glass fish at the far end and there are many soft corals on the cave walls and roof. Grouper fish are sometimes found there early in the morning before too many visitors have arrived. If you're diving in a group try to stay to the front because the first few divers will kick up some silt and the visibility will become poor quite quickly. A torch is also required to pick up some of the subtle colours and appreciate the deeper recesses.
The House Reef is accessed via the beach and a surface swim to the middle of Playa de la Barrilla Bay. Once you've reached the middle of the bay, free descend to approximately 12 metres at which point the dive runs along the end of the protected bay with overhangs on either side. If you're brave enough, the bottom contours can be followed to a depth of approximately 25 metres. There are a variety of fish including grouper, barracuda, angelshark, and rays to be seen. Large shrimps, globular anenome, arrowhead crabs and octopus can also be found there which is why it also makes an interesting area for night diving.
The Harbour Wall is a very interesting night dive spot, and begins in the bay of Playa de La Barrilla and gradually leads to a depth of around 12 metres. For orientation and navigation purposes the rocks and the harbour wall are kept to the right on the way out and on the return journey the same features are kept to the left and this leads straight back into the bay area. The relatively shallow depth gives extended bottom time so it is best to decide a time limit beforehand and turn around at the halfway point. At night the bay takes on a different character, fields of anemonies burst from the normally featureless sandy bottom. Cuttlefish, octopus and sea horses can be found along the small harbour wall, spider crab and small shrimps can also be spotted by those with keen eyesight.
Wrecks can be found in the area of Los Erizos which has been designated a marine conservation site and features a well established wreck site supporting a vast marine life of sardines, pinfish, turkish wrasse, emperor fish, arrow crabs, large groupers, barracuda and sometimes visited by large rays, tuna and angelsharks. The short boat trip from the harbour takes divers to a buoy directly above a trawler wreck at 18 metres. Descend down the line to the forward mast and from there to the bottom. This wreck still has a two metre brass propeller intact. If you follow the edge of the reef down you'll find other wrecks which range from a wooden crushed wreck at 24 metres to a skeletal fishing boat at around 37 metres. There are approximately eight wrecks together in the area and the site can be dived several times to explore its entirety.
Red Coral can be seen if you surface swim to the right at the bay of Playa de La Barrilla. If you free descend to 16 metres, then follow the reef to the right along a drop-off which leads to a small lava alcove which is where you can see one of the rare pieces of pink coral to the rear. Small glass like shrimps are also found in the area. In the same direction you'll find two small cabin cruiser wrecks. This site has a great deal of fish activity, especially in the morning and is visited by trigger fish, fusiliers, barracuda, shoals of sardines and many other small fish.
Richie's Reef is a slightly longer boat ride past the Fariones Reef to the outer side of the buoyed area of the long beach at Puerto del Carmen. Mooring on one of the large buoys, you can free descend to 18 metres. The area is an interesting flat-walled reef with outcrops of boulders and plenty of recesses for fish life. The contours take divers down to approx 35 metres. There is a variety of fish to be seen, some very large grouper, morays, barracuda and octopus.
The Hole is accessed by a jump entry from the jetty beside the bar in the harbour and then followed by a ten-minute leisurely snorkel or back swim out to the entry point. Apparently there is a buoyed anchor line there as well but this cannot always be seen at high tide. You then free descend down to about 12 - 14 metres follow the reef around to where the Blue Hole commences. The Hole is 2-3 metres wide and deep and leads from about 18 metres down through the reef and out the other side at around 25 metres into the deep blue waters of the Atlantic. There is a very noticeable thermocline2 at the transition between the two as the reef drops to around 35 metres in depth on the Atlantic side. The site is visited by barracuda, grouper and angelshark. A torch is well worth bringing on this dive to explore the inner walls of the Hole.
Punta Tinosa is a longer boat trip to the south of Puerto del Carmen towards the marina of Puerto Calero. Following the mooring line of the buoy to the bottom at around 12 metres, the reef is formed from a cascade of lava which has solidified under the sea. The effect is quite unique and the contours can be followed to the sea bed at around 30 metres. The contours ripple and bend and the fluidity of the lava flow makes for a strange scenery which shows the power of the volcanic eruption. Despite the unusual features, a variety of marine life can be seen.