PrivatSea’s Favourites: The Best Diving in Europe
What do you need to know about diving in Europe?
A less obvious destination for scuba diving, given the cooler water temperatures and less predictable weather, the European seas are teeming with life and offer a window into the less frequently explored wonders of the underwater world.
Of course, we only recommend diving if you are fully certified and the conditions are safe, and we would always recommend diving with a diving instructor to keep you out of harm’s way. If you wish to dive regularly from your yacht, we recommend having a diving instructor as part of your specialised crew, Privatsea would be glad to assist you with hiring the right crew member for your needs.
Below are some of our favourite spots for diving in Europe, find out why:
Diving in Iceland: Silfra, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
Created during an earthquake in the eighteenth century, Silfra is the only destination in the world where you can dive between two tectonic plates, the North American and Eurasian plates. The earthquake ripped through to the underground spring, releasing glacial meltwaters that remain today and provide visibility up to 100 meters when gliding through its tranquil waters.
There are four safe areas to be explored: Silfra Big Crack, Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and Silfra Lagoon. The canyons in these sections reach depths of approximately 60 meters, while some shallow areas are home to fields of algae. Uniquely, the marine life here is made up almost solely of different types of algae, which adds to the overall environment that can be compared to no other.
The breath-taking uniqueness of the everchanging terrain makes it an incomparable experience.
Diving in Croatia: Wreck of Fortunal, Vis Island, Croatia
A young recent wreck, having sunk in 1997, Fortunal is a fishing boat that lies on the sandy depths at the bottom of a vertical wall. The wreck itself is a deep dive at 45-55m but can be seen from quite a distance due to its size and the good visibility in the waters.
The ship sits skewed, offering a peek into the lives of those that lived upon her decks, with fishing equipment and belongings still lining her hull.
The wreck is now decorated with orange corals, and you may discover scorpion fish resting upon the decks today. Scorpion fish vary in colour, sometimes dull and other times reddish, and can grow up to a metre in length. While usually sedentary creatures, take care to watch out for their sharp, sometimes venomous fin spines.
There is a quiet bay for a swim from the dive site where you can lay anchor.
Diving in France: Le Donator, Porquerolles, Hyères, France.
Not far from the shores of Hyères lies the little-known island of Porquerolles, home to one of the best dive sites in the south of France.
Le Donator was a cargo ship built in Norway in 1931, which sailed as a wine tanker until it sank after colliding with a sea mine during a storm in 1945. The large vessel is a paradise waiting to be explored, with its enormous propeller and helm being particular highlights. You can explore many of the vessels’ rooms, now decorated with biodiverse marine life.
In addition to being a fascinating exploration into the history of this vessel, this site is now teeming with life and is home to some of the most beautiful artificial coral reefs on the French coast. Glide amongst the red and yellow gorgonian fan corals which have fastened themselves to the ship’s worn exterior. You can expect to see a variety of marine life at this depth including barracudas, moray eels, mola molas, groupers, conger eels and crayfish.
This site is vast and cannot be completed in a single dive, making this the perfect location to moor for a few days to explore the true wonders of this site.
Diving in Norway: Lofoten Islands, Norway
Lofoten is one of the few places in the world where you can dive with orcas, also known as killer whales. These majestic creatures, with their contrasting black and white colouration, gather to feed on shoals of herring offering the perfect opportunity to watch from a distance. The sheer size and grace of these creatures gliding before your eyes is an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to share their waters.
These rich waters offer a plethora of opportunities with many other whale species frequenting this area. In addition to whales, you can hope to see the large formations of kelp, many large fish species including cod, flounder and halibut, as well as other sea creatures such as jellyfish, urchins and starfish.
There are diving opportunities for beginners to advanced, all offering unforgettable experiences.