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Come To Portugal!
Portugal has many fantastic diving spots and diving centers, from the North to South of the country!
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In Portugal, we cover all the main diving agencies.
Typically characterised (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 according 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.
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 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 Gruta do Rabo de Asno, Baixa do Broeiro, Rinhchão and Cova do Sono.
The German submarine U1277, one of the most exclusive wrecks to dive on the north
In this region there are many places with different characteristics. The area of Cascais is strongly influenced by Tagus river sediments, and 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, you 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, and also reserved only for more experienced divers due to its depth. This is a wreckage of a trawler of 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, Seabream, 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 continent's touristic area. 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.