Cyprus is a very popular diving destination all year round. An island surrounded by the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, with crystal clear waters, provides excellent visibility for diving and snorkelling. The island is known for the warm climate and brilliant perennial sun shining, reflecting off the bottom even at forty meters. The tide is too gentle and shallow to notice; currents are rare, and often very gentle. The great conditions allow for a vast variety of remarkable diving with safe conditions, from try-diving, first time (open water), advance, wreck, shallow caves to technical, deep diving. Night diving is also very popular due to a number of reasons, such as, calm sea conditions; non-threatening/ dangerous marine life; sheltered bays and warm waters. These are also the reasons which make Cyprus an excellent first diving experience destination, as there are gorgeous shallow beaches classified as ‘controlled environment’, a key requirement for the Open Water course.
This is complemented by an underwater topography that challenges the diver with a spectacular coastline. Although it is predominantly indented and rocky, there are several long, sandy beaches, gently sloping beaches, steep vertical walls, arches, tunnels, caves, canyons and pyramid rock formations. Different landscapes offer different marine life, i.e. caves tend to be very rich in marine life not found elsewhere. The landscape makes for interesting dives, offering the opportunity to experience different depths during one dive, hence seeing different marine life. Most diving sites are easily accessible from the coast, and some require a short boat ride. All of this is merged with a long history of over 9000 years, with shreds of evidence found lying in the sea floor such as ancient stone anchors, amphora vessels as well as aircraft and ship wrecks from more modern times.
Cyprus has been placed within the top 10 world wreck diving sites (The Times, 2003) in the world, due to the Zenovia shipwreck. Zenovia was a Swedish built Challenger-class ferry launched in 1979 that capsized and sank close to Larnaca, Cyprus, in June 1980 on her maiden voyage. She now rests on her port side in approximately 42 metres (138 ft) of water, acting like an artificial riff to a wealth of marine life. Nearly all of the vessel's 178 metre/584 foot length is colonized by local marine life and the cavernous hold provides an interesting and unusual penetration dive for those with suitable training and qualifications.
With so much history, it comes as no surprise that Cyprus also offers ancient wrecks, amphorae viewing and even a site called the Amphitheatre. Other popular diving sites in Cyprus include Cavo Greco (Protara), Xylophagou (Larnaca) and Akama (often requiring a short boat drive and might encounter currents).
For those interested in combining their visit with diving in Cyprus, please visit the following links for more information:
- More details on popular dive sites: http://www.windowoncyprus.com/cyprus_dive_sites.htm
- A comprehensive list of common marine life: http://www.cydive.com/content/diving/list-of-mediterranean-fish