Thanks to the crystal blue water and the pure white sand, the play of light on the seabed of the Coast of the Gods is breath taking. It also has one of the most beautiful examples of flora and fauna in the Mediterranean.
Rocky outcrops and shoals full of cracks, holes and ravines characterise the seabed, hosting a variety of Mediterranean fauna including groupers, octopuses, morays and a huge variety of invertebrates.
The rocks are covered in sponges of all shapes and colours and also with Parazoanthus Axinellae , the yellow cluster anemone, which are magnificent when they open up. There are widespread posidonia beds, in which you can find large Pinna Nobilis and sometimes even seahorses.
This area is a place of passage and reproduction for numerous pelagic species such as tuna, amberjacks, slipjacks and mahi-mahi. It is also not uncommon to come across dolphins while in the boats.
One of the most beautiful dives in this section of the coast: around 20 metres down we find the entrance to this amazing 20 metre long natural arch which sits on the sand, covered in colourful sponges. The dive begins by going through the arch and following the rocks, which are full of different passageways, many of which can be entered, and ravines in which groupers live. The climb back to the surface begins at the head of the arch, where, in some months of the year, you can see barracudas, amberjacks and juvenile tuna. This area is full of Pinna nobilis, hundreds of sea lilies, candelabra sponges and posidonia. When the water is clear, as is often the case, the shoal transforms into a living aquarium hosting a myriad of damselfish, salpa, seabreams and white breams.
Sant'Irene la Montagnola
Not far from the arch is the Montagnola, a massive round rock sat on a sandy floor.
The dive begins at the top of the Montagnola, at a depth of around 7 metres. We then follow the sides down to about 19 metres.
The sides of this rock are rich with sea slugs and large candelabra sponges - an amazing sight to see.
Sant'Irene il Molare
A bit wider than the arch, this large rock has the form of a molar, with a narrow base and a clean cut on the west side that creates a sheer drop from 12 metres to around 25 metres deep.
Skirting the side it is possible to see morays and alessandrine groupers and to take in the marvellous scenery created by large candelabra sponges.
At the bottom there are large rocks creating passages that look out onto an old Admiralty anchor.
By following a series of smaller rocks lying on the seabed, interspersed with posidonia and Pinna nobilis, we can see Eunicella and meet groupers, octopuses and stingrays.
This dive is suitable for expert scuba divers at a greater depth, of up to 40 metres.
It almost always has crystal water with good visibility and beautiful light effects.
The shoal is formed of a large number of little rocks and some very large rocks separated from each other by canals of white sand.
In this diving spot it is possible to see a large number of Eunicella and meet big groupers, octopuses and morays.
Off Tropea, at 38 metres deep, there is a container used years ago for an experiment with coral. Now out of use, it has turned into a hideout for big groupers.
Encountering this multi-coloured box is breath-taking – it is carpeted with sponges and spirograph worms that appear to be sitting on the pure white sand surrounded only by the intense blue of the deep.
At a depth of 27 metres lie the remains of this steamboat with the bow turned towards the shore, presumably sunk in the 1940s.
The whole of the hull’s superstructure was taken during the Second World War by a pontoon of divers who were sent to recuperate iron needed for the war industry.
Today it is possible to see what remains of the hull, the cover and the frame, although they are in part covered in sand.
Amongst that which remains it is possible to see groupers, octopuses and morays as well as numerous sea slugs.
Between Riaci and Torre Marino, at around 300 metres from the coast, we find Formicoli, a series of rocky outcrops, which, according to some studies, are the remains of an old Roman port. Formicoli is thought to be a contraction of ‘Forum Erculis’. These majestic submerged structures recall the ancient presence of a dock.
At around 18 metres deep, as it moves towards the open sea it forms a series of large rocks piled on top of each other. These create beautiful ravines that cross the shoal from one side to the other, an ideal habitat for groupers, white breams and octopuses, as well as for the numerous small forms of life that cover the ravines’ sides.
The shoal extends 40 metres down between small rocks and stretches of Posidonia.
Meaning ‘big canal’ in Calabrian dialect, the area is so-called because of a 5 metre gap in the basalt rock.
It is here that our dive takes place, at a depth of around 24 metres, along the sides rich with nooks and crannies where golden groupers and other species typical of the Mediterranean find refuge.
An enormous shoal, from 27 to 37 metres deep, in which large boulders rest on the sand containing a series of tunnels where groupers and morays hide.
Moving towards the centre of the shoal there is a series of different types of rocks of various sizes, where, visibility permitting, we can see various species of fish such as snappers, white bream and croakers.
Shortly before the Capo Vaticano, you will find this rocky outcrop sat upon a sandy bed twenty metres down.
At the most northerly part, the rock forms a pile of stones, inhabited by octopuses and morays.
This is a simple dive, suitable for everyone, in which it is easy to find morays, conger eels, large white bream, barracudas and, between the end of August and October, small amberjacks and juvenile tuna.
Some of rocks are completely covered in the beautiful yellow cluster anemone, Parazoanthus axinellae.
Night dives are also marvellous in this area: at night the Vadaro turns into an enchanting aquarium full of fish, in which you can even have the rare opportunity of meeting the splendid Alicia mirabilis or sea horses.
tHE Tono SHOAL
This shoal lies opposite Tono beach at a depth of between 12 and 27 metres.
There are diverse paths that you can take within these rocks that, alternating with the posidonia beds, form passages and small canyons. This is the kingdom of the alessandrine groupers, which, particularly in September, appear in schools in open water and come up quite close.
Here you can also see rockfish, octopuses, morays, mantis shrimps, lobsters and often even stingrays and barracudas.
Right under the lighthouse of the Capo Vaticano, this rock emerges out of a series of submerged rocks, often hit by the current, that lie on the sand 15 metres down.
This dive is simple, but made extraordinary by the play of light which comes from the meeting of the pure white of the sand with the blue of the crystal clear water. It also has an incredible number of fish.
If you look carefully you can discover all of the benthic organisms of the Mediterranean: sponges, tunicates, bryozoans, a number of sea slugs, of shellfish and of rockfish of all sizes, gobies and blennies in their lairs.
In the most sheltered places there are also numerous schools of mullet lying on the seabed facing the current.
THE ROCK OF Galea
The most southerly diving site on this coast, situated shortly after the Capo Vaticano, is a rocky outcrop resting on a bed of white sand. The dive takes place mainly on the Southern side of this rock, where there is the most interesting of the rocky formations extending to a depth of 20 metres.
Here the Gulf current meets that of the Straits, creating environmental conditions that make this area very interesting from a naturalistic point of view.