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Diving in Portugal
Portugal is the best destination in the world, according to the WTA - 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, utterly different from what you get on other destinations. It’s not universally better, (even if for us it is) because "better" is what any of us likes more, but it’s unique.
Portugal is the obvious destination for the diver that wishes to experience something completely different. You can dive recreational, and you can dive tech, you can dive wrecks, and you can dive caves, or you can dive dams/ reservoirs, all that on the same trip, on a 150 km radius.
And if you think about everything that can happen after the diving, Portugal as an option to your typical destinations gives you the opportunity to visit a European country, with a multitude of points of interest to visit during the trip, on each diving location, accessible enough and close enough, to visit, only because you can.
So, let's go diving, but first, if you want to have a general idea about diving in Portugal, let's take a closer look at what it is possible to see and do in several locations.
Typically characterized (sometimes ruthlessly) by 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. Also being the only place in the country where you can dive into a submarine.
The U1277 is a German submarine that was deliberately sunk by his captain so it would not fall into enemy hands. After navigating several days through the Atlantic during World War II the submarine was sunk on 4th of June of 1945 at dawn, near Porto.
Nowadays it is one of Portugal’s national diving icons and accordingly to the website MergulhoMania «since then it has been resting 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 their places. The vessels hull is covered in little white anemones (Sargatia elegans). Thousands of pouting fish, the biggest conger eels that you might find in these waters, huge curious octopuses and the 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 and 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 of 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, just like the submarine.
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
Despite having a somewhat exposed wide cost, the Centre North has probably the best underwater sanctuary of the mainland if not for the Natural Reserve of the Berlengas, created in 1981.
The Berlengas Archipelago has three different islands – Berlenga Grande, Estela and Farilhões and it’s 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 the 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. Accordingly to the information on the website of Haliotis, 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 Seabreams, 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 wholes 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 Gruta do Rabo de Asno, Baixa do Broeiro, Rinhchão and Cova do Sono.
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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 has proved to be a good option. Its 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 Maria Eduarda shipwreck. The local dive centre welcomes divers in a particular environment, assisted by the adjoining terrace bar. On their internet page you can read the diving specifications, including: «Maria Eduarda shipwreck - a few miles of the coast, only accessible during exceptional sea/weather conditions. Also reserved only for more experienced divers due to its depth. This is a wreckage of a trawler with approximately 60 years, but still in a considerable preserved state. It is possible to admire not only the ships structure, but as well as some resident fish species. Just like the remaining areas of the region, around the Maria Eduarda you can find Conger eels, Pouting fish, Seabreams, Anthias, Velvet crab and Lobsters.»
«Diving characteristics: the dive should be performed under good sea/weather conditions. The vessel should be circumvented carefully in order to avoid lifting sediments that can compromise the visibility, which is generally pretty reasonable in tide intervals between 5 and 12 meters. The depth can variate between 33 and 36 meters.» The area of Sesimbra, a mecca of diving on the Continent, has countless protected dive-sites, allowing to dive almost the entire year, regardless of the atmospheric conditions. The must-do immersions are the famous River Gurara in Cabo Espichel, the Ponta da Passagem, Pedra do Meio, Pedra do Leão and Jardim das Gorgónias.
Algarve is the Continents touristic area. And once again it is necessary to plan with local knowledge and accordingly to present weather conditions. The southern coast of the country has countless possibilities, from the clear waters of Sagres to Lagos, Portimão, Armação de Pera and Faro. The shipwrecks full of history can be wonderful diving opportunities.
Amongst the centres that operate locally and are recommended by our team, several regularly go to Sagres and operate in the area of Faro which is one place of the Portuguese continent that has a ship/artificial coral reef: «Navio do IPIMAR – Old iron trawler that was sunk in 1995 by IPIMAR (Portuguese Institute of Fishing and Sea Investigation) to serve as an artificial coral reef. The vessel’s mostly in one piece while its interior was clean and freed of machinery. The ship 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» and also the Bombardeiro B-24.
In Algarve you can also find the Ocean Revival underwater park, a perfect place for a great diving experience.
The Ocean Revival Underwater Park is situated off the coastal town of Portimão, Algarve, in southern Portugal. More precisely along the East side of the artificial reefs of Alvor, the bathymetric of 26 to 32 meters, with a minimum clearance of 15 meters. 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 that serve as artificial reefs.
Going to Azores means you will have to take an airplane ride. The archipelago of 9 islands provides immersions in blue waters with much higher visibilities than in the Continent.
The offers from diving centres have been growing and practically all islands have at least one operator.
Although having similar backgrounds, fauna and flora each location has its own set of distinct features and you cannot know Azores until you have dived in all islands.
Immersions in Bancos Submarinos not to be missed in Azores: Princesa Alice, Dollabarat, D. João de Castro among others less known.
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 nice shades of blue. However it also requires a plain ride to get to.
The islands of Madeira and Porto Santo enable nice immersions mostly all year.
In short, Portugal has many different places that are good for diving. If the much-wanted trip is impossible, good diving is perfectly achievable when in Portugal, so do not stop diving. Come on getaways with PortugalDive.com that will make you develop a taste for diving in Portuguese waters. Without forgetting that: the people that regularly dive in Portugal are great divers “outside”. If you really cannot even go on getaways for a few days, don't hesitate and ask us for your favorite dives.
Also, do something about your next diving trip. Mentally, verify the conditions of your equipment: the required maintenance procedures or put aside some money (don't spend every cent on this trip) to buy that item you were missing.
The equipment offered in specialized stores has been increasing in the last few years, you will find here almost everything if you want to buy, with a bigger diversity of brands and a larger number of establishments where you can buy them.
Is it really impossible to take care of the equipment or go to the stores? Well, in that case, take a sit on your couch, 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 if next year you will be sending us a beautiful article and photos of that 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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