7 Heavenly European dive destinations
Europe may not be as tropical as the Caribbean or the South Pacific, but we have our fair share of wonders. Our dive destinations range from cold waters in the North to warm, colourful waters in the South.
The variety of dive sites around Europe allows you to dive all year round, with something to explore each season. Europe’s climate, culture, nature and history have all contributed in some way in the creation of these extraordinary dive sites.
Our marvellous list of destinations includes something for everyone, beginners and pros; popular sites and untouched sites, but one thing all these fantastic locations have in common is that they all offer something to see and do both in the water and out.
Get ready to fill up your bucket list with exciting shipwreck dives and discoveries taking you on a journey from the majestic Norwegian Sea all the way down to the depths of the enchanting Mediterranean.
Medes Islands, Spain
These seven islets found off the beautiful Costa Brava in the northwestern part of the Mediterranean Sea are an adventure for all divers. Here you will find a diverse marine environment, mixed with fun Spanish hospitality. This 23-hectare marine reserve includes impressive underwater caves where you can find groupers, scorpion fish and soft-coral reefs.
Best for: Snorkelling and close observance of marine life
When to go: September
Other nearby attractions: Barcelona and the Costa Brava coastline
Orkney Islands, Scotland
Home to one of Scotland’s most historic stretches of water, the Scapa Flow. Here you will find tall sandstone cliffs and groups of seals, whales and wild dolphins passing by. With relatively clear waters, it is great to explore marine life and the graveyard of World War I wrecks lying along the seabed. It is also a perfect destination for deep dives and cold-water diving, but make sure to wear a wetsuit.
Best for: Whale watching and shipwreck diving
When to go: July
Other nearby attractions: The historic village of Skara Brae and 12th-century Viking carvings at the Maeshowe burial tomb
The Maltese island of Gozo is a true Mediterranean gem. Don’t be fooled by its size, as here you will find many incredible dive sites. The most remarkable dive spot on the island of Gozo, however, has to be Dwejra, a 2-in-1 bargain destination and diver’s dream. Snorkel or dive into the depths of the Blue Hole and observe the remarkable rocky formations, sea caves and corals surrounding the old site of the Azure Window, Gozo’s legendary limestone arch, which collapsed in stormy weather in March 2017.
(Please note: it’s still a divers' paradise from underwater, but it is currently advised to keep away from the area, until surveys and inspections are carried out).
Best for: Crystal clear waters and coral caves
When to go: May
Other nearby attractions: The red sandy beach at Ramla Bay and the historic citadel in Victoria
Lofoten Islands, Norway
The Lofoten Islands are spread out between the turbulent waters of the Norwegian Sea. This untouched area is abundant in sheltered bays, dramatic scenery and breathtaking backdrops. It is very likely to spot orcas and other sea creatures here during the winter season. This destination is perfect for divers in search of peace and quiet. The waters are full of kelp forests, old wrecks and a wide variety of fish species. On land, one can equally enjoy fishing, trekking and mesmerising northern lights.
Best for: Diving with orcas and exploring kelp forests
When to go: January
Other nearby attractions: The Lofoten Museum and Haukland beach
Discover the true meaning of ‘La dolce vita’ in this picturesque fishing village on the Italian Riviera. Its charm has not gone unnoticed amongst jet-setters and millionaires, and in summer the small idyllic pastel-coloured haven gets bombarded with super-yachts and tourists from around the world. During the low season, however, the area offers amazing diving experiences. The Portofino Marine Reserve has many shallow wrecks off the Ligurian coast with many beautiful archeological dive sites, cliffs and walls that protect a spectacular marine life.
Best for: Archeological dive sites and shipwreck diving
When to go: April
Other nearby attractions: Castello Brown, the church of San Giorgio and other Italian Riviera villages
Unspoilt, unpolluted and crowd-free. Croatia and the Adriatic Sea cater for all kinds of divers. One truly undiscovered dream destination remains — the island of Korčula, off the mainland's Pelješac peninsula. Around this Adriatic island, divers can find shipwrecks over 2000 years old, as well as soft-coral reefs and exotic fish species. On land, the island is just as enchanting, with many historic harbours and medieval towers open for exploration.
Best for: Marine life and warm night dives
When to go: August
Other nearby attractions: Korčula’s old town and the turquoise cove of Pupnatska Luka
The Balearic Islands, Spain
The Balearic Islands – consisting of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza – are the closest thing to Caribbean-like crystal clear waters one can find in Europe. White sandy beaches, thousands of caves, coves and great marine life can be found on any of these enchanting islands. Mallorca is known for its history, Menorca for its rural nature and Ibiza for its buzzing nightlife. But the truth is, these three islands are all surrounded by historic shipwrecks, barracudas, moray eels and friendly dolphins.
Best for: Crystal clear waters, warm temperatures and family diving
When to go: September
Other nearby attractions: The island of Formentera, Palma Cathedral and the Serra de Tramuntana
Wherever you decide to go and dive, be sure to always dive safely, with the necessary training and safety precautions. We recommend you check out our DAN training courses (available all over Europe) and our tailor-made diving insurance plans (available worldwide) to make sure you can explore these beautiful destinations with peace of mind.
Happy travels and safe diving.
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