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Diving in Portugal

Portugal is the best destination in the world, according to the World Travel Awards.

Diving in Portugal means diving in the Atlantic Ocean and discovering an underwater environment; the bottom of the sea, rocks, flora, subaquatic species, very different from what you find at other destinations. It’s not universally better, (even if it is for us) because "better" is what any of us likes more, but it’s, simultaneously, diverse and unique.

Portugal is the obvious destination for the diver that wishes to experience something completely different. You can dive recreationally, you can dive tech, you can dive wrecks, you can dive caves, or you can dive dams/reservoirs and, all during one trip, within a 150 km radius.

If you add to that the time when you are not diving, Portugal offers the most incredible array of land destinations and activities to make your dive trip even more memorable. 

So, let's dive in and take a closer look at what it's possible to see and do in different locations.

North

Typically characterized as having the coldest and darkest waters of the Portuguese continental territory, diving in the North can have its own special charm. When there is luck and/or patience to wait for good conditions, the adjacent area to Matosinhos is excellent for immersions. It is also the only place in the country where you can dive into a submarine.

The U1277 is a German submarine that was deliberately sunk by its captain to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. After navigating several days through the Atlantic during World War II the submarine was sunk on 4th of June of 1945, near Porto.

Nowadays it is one of Portugal’s national diving icons and rests at 31 meters deep, on a sandy seabed with the stern completely silted and tilted about 45 degrees to portside. Facing south, the prow has already disappeared just like the exterior fuselage of the conning tower where all of the anti-aircraft armoury was. Only the four torpedo launch tubes still remain. The two on the port side have fallen onto the sand, the two on the starboard side are still in place. The vessel's hull is covered in little white anemones (Sargatia elegans). Thousands of pouting fish, the biggest conger eels that you will find in these waters, huge curious octopuses and a marvellous colony of pink anemones descending from the North Sea are some of the natural charms of this wreck. In the conning tower you can only find the interior hull made of welded metal plates 22mm thick, the targeting periscope plus the hatch without the cover.

Regardless of its deteriorating state, the submarine U1277 is still one of the most interesting wreck dive sites of Portugal and the best in the north of the country. Apart from the submarine, it is also possible to visit more shipwreck sites, especially the Navio do Norte and the Brenha, both north of Leixões. These wrecks are also full of life and worth exploring.

Portugal has many Diving Centers almost all over the territory

In Portugal, you will be able to become certified by all the main diving agencies.

The German submarine U1277, one of the most exclusive wrecks to dive on the north

Center North

Despite having a somewhat exposed wide coast, the Centre North has probably the best underwater sanctuary off the mainland at the Nature Reserve of the Berlengas, proclaimed in 1981.

The Berlengas Archipelago has three different islands – Berlenga Grande, Estela and Farilhões which lie about 6 miles away from Cabo Carvoeiro.

The nearby presence of the Nazaré canon, reaching depths of 4km, is the source of many sea currents and whirlpools full of nutrients that attract many different species. The water is clean and there is high visibility on a regular basis.

Due to the presence of many islands and shallow waters, alongside the regular appearance of dense fogs, the site is filled with shipwrecks at various depths. You can even find some of the wreckage near the waterline. Among other shipwrecks you can find: Primavera – Primavera is the most approachable wreckage diving site in Berlengas. Due to its protected location it’s much easier to dive there than in other places. Although it is severely damaged, the Primavera still manages to convey the magic of diving in a shipwreck site. Besides the usual residents (Forkbeards, Red mullets, Wrasses and Lobsters), Primavera is also inhabited by schools of Seabream, Dories, Pagrus and even Ocean sunfish. Close to Berlengas there is also Vapor do Trigo or The Andreos, also a fairly protected wreckage site that allows diving even when other sites are prohibited during adverse weather conditions. The most interesting area is by the boilers which are inhabited by large residents. The foundations of the vessel also have many interesting holes to explore where big Pagrus usually swim alone or in small schools. Furthermore, as it is located in a confluence of currents area it is common to see Ocean sunfish in midwater. Dago was a Brazilian flagged vessel that sailed from Porto to Lisbon. On 14th March 1942 it was sunk by a German jetfighter SW of Cabo Carvoeiro. It can be found on a sandy seabed, 50 meters deep. Even though it is broken in half it is still one of Portugal’s most spectacular shipwrecks diving sites. It’s even possible to dive into its structure.

Aside from the shipwrecks, Berlengas can also offer great diving opportunities such as Parede do Rabo de Asno, Baixa do Broeiro, Rinchão and Cova do Sono.

Visit the pages Exclusive Dives and Packages. Much more to find out!


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Center South

In this region there are many places with many different characteristics. The area of Cascais is strongly influenced by Tagus river sediments. This means that to dive with good visibility conditions you must have an accurate awareness of the conditions. The area of Cascais however is a good option. Cascais dive-sites with crystal clear waters around the North of Cabo da Roca and the amazing Montanha Camões (for certified divers) allow great immersions.

Further south, after the 25 de Abril bridge, we find Fonte da Telha with its distinctive diving sites such as Pedra da Lagoa, Pedra dos Safios, Malha and also the named Maria Eduarda shipwreck that recent research by one of Portugal Dive Contributors, resulted in it being finally identified as the Roberto Ivens minesweeper. The local dive centre welcomes divers in a chilled environment, enhanced by the adjoining terrace bar. On their internet page you can read the diving specifications, including that of the: Maria Eduarda shipwreck - a few miles off the coast, only accessible during exceptional sea/weather conditions. It is only open to more experienced divers due to its depth. The wreckage is of a trawler which sank approximately 60 years ago, but it is still in a reasonable state of preservation. It is possible to admire not only the ships structure, but also the resident fish species which are predominantly Conger eels, Pouting fish, Seabream, Anthias, Velvet crab and Lobsters.

In this region we also find Sesimbra, a diving mecca on the Continent, with countless protected dive-sites, where it is possible to dive almost all year, regardless of the atmospheric conditions. The must-do immersions are the famous River Gurara Proa (bow) or River Gurara Popa (stern), in Cabo Espichel, the Ponta da Passagem, Pedra do Meio, Pedra do Leão and Jardim das Gorgónias.

South

The Algarve is Portugal's premium touristic area with countless possibilities depending on the weather. This is where our local knowledge and experience really come into play. From the clear waters of Sagres to Lagos, Portimão, Armação de Pera and Faro to the shipwrecks full of history there's a wide choice of diving opportunities.

Amongst our recommended local dive centres, several regularly go to Sagres and operate in the area of Faro where there is an artificial coral reef: Navio do IPIMAR. An old iron trawler that was sunk in 1995 by IPIMAR (Portuguese Institute of Fishing and Sea Investigation), it serves as an artificial coral reef. The vessel is mostly in one piece with its interior being clean and free of machinery. The ship has developed a large starboard list on a sandy seabed with its prow facing the open sea. The ship is very interesting, with areas that can be safely entered. After over a decade underwater it’s now going through a very interesting phase of colonization, the hull is covered in a myriad of colourful organisms. There is also the Bombardeiro B-24.

In the Algarve you will also find the Ocean Revival underwater park, which is the perfect place for a great diving experience.

Situated off the coastal town of Portimão, Algarve, in southern Portugal, the reef is located one mile from the anchorage of Portimão, 3.3 miles from the port and 2 miles from the coast opposite to Prainha.

Marked by buoys the Ocean Revival reef consists of four decommissioned vessels from the Portuguese Navy fleet which now serve as artificial reefs.

Azores (Açores)

Going to the Azores means you will have to fly - but it is definitely worth it! The archipelago of 9 islands provides immersions in blue waters with much higher visibilities than on the Continent.

The offers from diving centres have been growing, and practically all the islands have more than one diving operator.

Although having similar backgrounds, the fauna and flora at each location have their own set of distinct features, and you cannot claim to know the Azores until you have dived off all the islands.

Diving in the Azores, an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, is an unparalleled experience, attracting divers from around the globe. Known for its crystal-clear waters and a remarkable variety of marine life, the Azores offer an underwater paradise. Divers can explore a myriad of sites, including volcanic underwater landscapes, shipwrecks full of history, and vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish. The islands are also renowned for encounters with majestic marine mammals, such as dolphins and whales. With a range of dive sites suitable for all levels, the Azores provide a breathtaking backdrop for underwater adventures, making each dive a unique discovery of the natural wonders beneath the Atlantic waves.

Immersions not to be missed in the Azores: Princesa Alice, Dollabarat, D. João de Castro, among others less known sites.

If this is your first time in the Azores, don't think - jump into the immense beauty Atlantic Ocean and come for the best diving ever. But remember that you are accepting a huge risk: wanting to cone back again, and again, and again.

Madeira and Porto Santo

With a more stable meteorology and hotter waters than in Azores, the Archipelago of Madeira can offer equally good visibility and beautiful shades of blue. Once again it involves a plane ride, but again it is definetly worth it.

The islands of Madeira and Porto Santo allow for diving virtually all year round.

This is just a taster of what Portugal has to offer to divers. If a more remote destination is impossible, good diving is perfectly achievable when in Portugal, so why not take advantage of the fine weather, the varied opportunities and join us at PortugalDive.com. No matter what your desired dive is, we can and will make it happen. We'll take care of everything from start to finish, always adjusting to your needs and diving dreams.

Plan ahead and don't be concerned about a lack of specific equipment you might be in need of.

The equipment offered in specialized stores has been increasing in the last few years, which means that you will find almost everything you might need, with a wide range of brands and establishments to choose from. 

If time is short and you don't want to bother with browsing through endless diving options, sit back, type portugaldive.com on your browser and book the dives or a diving package to go to the diving spots that appear on these pages. Who knows, by next year you might be sending us a beautiful article and photos of your diving dream trip!


All About Portugal

With its mild climate, 3000 hours of sunshine per year and 850 kms of splendid beaches bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is the perfect holiday destination all year round.

This is a country that has the oldest borders in Europe, with an exceptional range of different landscapes just a short distance away, lots of leisure activities and unique cultural heritage, where tradition and modernity blend together in perfect harmony. Its superb cuisine, fine wines and hospitable people make this a tourist paradise of the highest quality.

Situated in the extreme south-west of Europe, just a few hours from any of the other European capitals, Portugal attracts visitors from all over the world. Come and discover the charms of this country too.

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Best Dives


Jardim das Gorgónias

This spot is one of the most popular in the area, only because of its easy orientation and the diversity of life.
[Read More]

River Popa

River Gurara MV was a Nigerian cargo motor vessel that sank on 26th February 1989
[Read More]

Pedra da Lagoa

This dive is much appreciated for the abundant life that can be seen. It is however a dive for experienced divers due to the currents there.
[Read More]

Parede Rabo de Asno

Translated into English, Donkey Tail Wall is the dive that everybody wants to do when diving the Berlengas archipelago.
[Read More]

Primavera

2000 ton Italian steam sunk in 1902. This wreck is the easiest dive in the Berlengas. Its privileged location allows us to dive there
[Read More]

Ilhas do Martinhal

At this spot, we can find a rock block where the sea is normally calm. This allows us to make several different types of dives
[Read More]

Fragata Comandante Hermenegildo Capelo

The “Comandante Hermenegildo Capelo Frigate" is the second frigate in a group of four ships
[Read More]

Almonda

The spring of the Almonda river (or "Olho do Moinho da Fonte") is located on the southeastern ridge of the Serra de Aire, Torres Novas anticline
[Read More]

U1277

U Boat - 1277 is a WWII shipwreck. She was a German submarine Type VIIC/41
[Read More]

Madeirense

The cargo ship "Madeirense" lies about a mile away from the coast and about 34mts below the surface, it sank in October 2000.
[Read More]

Banco Condor

The Condor reef is the most popular place to dive with sharks, especially the blue shark. Here we feel the adrenaline running through our bodies,
[Read More]

Corveta Pereira D' Eça

Corvette General Pereira d'Eça is one of the three ships that were sunk close to the Madeira Islands. She lies
[Read More]

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Portugal Dive

Portugal Dive it's a company, managed by Portuguese frequent divers, devoted to promoting Portugal as a Diving destination.

If you are coming to Portugal on holidays and wish to know what's about diving in Portugal this is the place to come for information, help on planning and - of course - diving.

Portugal Dive was founded by a group of Divers that knowing quite well what happens when on diving holidays or how difficult it is to get the right details when abroad, they've decided to gather in one place everything a tourist needs to know when going to another country and wishing to dive.

So, PortugalDive.com it's an information Site

PortugalDive.com it's much more than a Site with information about the diving reality in Portugal.

First of all PortugalDive.com, it's supported by the Portuguese Divers experience and knowledge because they dive here in Portugal all year round. And they will even go diving with you if you wish.

But above all, and for you is what matters, PortugalDive.com will assure a no worries diving plan when in Portugal, because as we like to say: we worry, you dive.

What will Portugal Dive do for me?

Portugal Dive team will provide everything you need to implement your diving plan when in Portugal, including:

- The booking of your dives - the ones you choose - on the diving centres that are closer and better equipped to take you there;
- A Portugal Dive Buddy will go diving with you if you prefer to have a local Buddy that will make everything easier and simpler, for you;
- If your dive is "exclusive" or if the dive you prefer is not bookable, the Portugal Dive team will provide the means necessary for you to do that dive - the one you want to dive, not others;
- If your desire is a "different diving experience" (whatever that means because first, you will have to share what you're dreaming about with us), Portugal Dive has the knowledge and tools to make it happen;
- Depending on the kind of services you chose, but typically your Portugal Dive Buddy will meet you at your hotel, brief you, and on a diving day, will take you personally to the desired diving center.

If I want to dive a specific spot do I need to contact a diving centre?

No. You just choose the dive!

You choose the spot where you will see and do what you like and we will select the nearest and better equipped diving centre to take you there.

After obtaining your agreement Portugal Dive will book the dive, and the services that you need, and typically, the Portugal Dive Buddy will take you to the preferred diving centre, and dive with you, if you wish.

How "good" are the Portuguese diving centres?

The Portuguese diving centers are legally certified to support recreational and technical diving activities, well equipped, the staff is very polite and enthusiastic about taking you to dive.

A perfectly normal Portuguese diving center accepts certifications form all the major agencies, like PADI/ SSI/ TDI, and you can also take a course to become a certified diver on any of PADI/ SSI/ TDI among other agencies.

If you want to take a course while on vacation, tell us, and we will find the best solution and instructor to work with you.

Do I need to take my own diving equipment?

No. You don't need to bring your own gear. Ask us and we will provide the kind of equipment you'll need on each dive.

Just remember, we worry - you dive!

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