You probably know Spain for its vibrant culture, iconic landmarks, and international cuisine. But, it is also a world class location for diving.
Bordering the Atlantic, the Bay of Biscay, and the Mediterranean, there are plenty of places to dive. With robust reefs, shipwrecks, and large aquatic life, Spain is a divers dream.
Though there are countless dive sites, we’ll take a look at the top four areas you shouldn’t miss when diving in Spain .
Best Diving Spots in Spain
#1 The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are an island chain off the coast of Morocco. For those of you who like crystal clear waters and warm weather, this is the spot for you. You can get to the islands via a short flight from mainland spain. Flights average around $300 with certain peak times becoming a bit more expensive. The islands have everything from reef dives to walls and drop offs. You can even find a few wrecks to satisfy your adventurous side.
- When to Dive: The best times to visit the Canary Islands are between September and November as well as March to May. December and February have the highest amount of precipitation, though still low. June through August tends to be the high season for tourism. Accommodations can become expensive and the cost of flights can go up during this time.The water temperature around the island chain is lowest between January and May at 19°C (66°F). Between August and October the temperature is the highest at 23°C (73°F).This will be a dive that you want to bring a wetsuit on. A 5mm to 3mm wetsuit should be fine for most divers. If you are prone to the cold though you may want one a bit thicker.
- Where to Dive: With seven main islands, there are plenty of dive sites you can enjoy. Seeing as you may not have time to dive all of them, we’ve narrowed down the list to the top three can’t miss sites.
- La Lagunita- you need to be an advanced diver for this spot. The dive site is about 20 minutes away from the island of Lobos. This is a good spot for marine life such as snappers, barracuda, goatfish, and groupers. Here is a video showing what the site is like.
- Cremona II and Pecio Viejo- if you are into wreck dives these two are amazing. The wrecks aren’t the only thing to see here. There is plenty of aquatic life swarming throughout the area.
Be on the lookout for schools of stingrays, trumpet fish, and grunts. Also, the yellow submarine tour visits this area providing something unique to see. Here’s a video to check out the site.
- Barranco del Aqua- this is an awesome site if you are an experienced diver. You can see large schools of fish along with some amazing pinncacles. Look out for large schools of barracuda and and trumpet fish. It is also not uncommon to see schools of manta rays.The currents here are strong so make sure you have the experience. The site is off the coast of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. Here’s a video of a school of barracuda around a volcanic rock formation.
The Canary Islands are an amazing spot for divers of all levels. As we mentioned before this is a site you will want to have a wetsuit for so if you have your own make sure to bring it.
Remember that these are popular islands so the best time to dive is outside of the main tourist season. Hotels, food, and diving can get very pricey during the high season.
#2 Medes Islands
The Medes Islands are a large marine reserve in the Mediterranean. You can find everything from colorful coral to giant schools of fish. If you have the right experience you can even do some cave diving here.
As the islands are a reserve these will be day dives which launch from the province of Girona. We’ll discuss a few of the best dive sites here so you can more easily plan your trip.
- When to Dive: These islands are in the northern part of the Mediterranean. Because of their location the waters around the islands are cold. The average water temperature is 15°C (59°F). The warmest months are July and August.
- Where to Dive: All the dive sites around the islands will only be accessible by boat. The islands are protected and it is illegal to land on them. There are many great dive shops on the mainland which launch regular tours of the area. We’ll list a few of the best dive sites so you can make sure to pick a shop that is visiting one that day.
- Pedra de Deu- this is an awesome spot for underwater photographers. You can expect to see some amazing coral growth. If you are looking for aquatic life this dive location won’t disappoint. You can see grouper, scorpion fish, and schools of damselfish. This is also a great spot to see sunfish and eagle rays. Here’s a great video showing off just how awesome this site can be.
- La Vaca- this is a dive suitable for divers of all levels. The main attraction here is the tunnel which runs through part of the island. You can get into the main tunnel one of three ways. Inside the tunnel is teeming with life. Expect to see moray eels, grouper, and an abundance of smaller fish. The coral here is second to none. This video does a fantastic job of showing off the island.
- Reggio Messina- for all of you wreck divers looking for some adventure, this is the site for you. This wreck can be penetrated if you have the right experience. The wreck is split into three different areas where the ship has broken apart. Make sure you have experience with both deep diving and wreck diving as this dive maxes out around 40m ( 120ft). Here is a great video showing a penetration of the wreck.
Remember that this site is a marine reserve and it is illegal to land on the islands. You will need to find a local dive shop to go with. If you prefer to bring your own wetsuit then make sure you pack it as you will need one for this area.
#3 Cantabria Sea
This is not going to be a dive for everyone. This area is cold and the waters rough. Currents here can be extreme and if you are new to diving this is not the area for you.
The Cantabrian Sea is in the north of Spain with France to the east. You will need to find a dive school that knows the area. This isn’t the spot for general diving. Instead, this area is good for seeing sharks and other aquatic animals you can’t see at other sites.
- When to Dive: July and August will be the warmest time of year to visit and dive. It is best for you to avoid the winter months as the sea can be particularly rough and dangerous.The water temperature is cold throughout the year, even in the summer months. July through September has the highest water temperature, around 21°C (69°F).
- What to Sea: The Cantabrian Sea is one of the best places in Spain to see sharks and other fish species. Specifically, you will want to keep an eye out for blue sharks, moon fish, and sunfish. You can see a video here of divers who came across a group of sunfish while on a technical dive.One unique experience open to a limited number of divers each year is the underwater wine cellars of Crusoe Treasure. You will have to contact them to arrange for the tour, which we imagine isn’t cheap.
This isn’t going to be a dive for everyone. You should avoid this area if you are not an advanced diver. Cold water diving experience is necessary. If you are looking to take a Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR) course, this is a good area to do it in.
#4 Balearic Islands
Home to the well known party town of Ibiza, the Balearic Islands are a great place for more than just partying. You can find some excellent cave diving as well as large aquatic life and pristine reefs. All set against the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The area is popular and hotels and resorts can get quite expensive during certain times of the year so it can be good to plan your dives around the off season..
- When to Dive: The Balearic Islands are best during the spring and summer months for divers. Between late May and early September the temperatures are the highest. The water temperatures peak between July and September around 26°C (78°F). You will need a wetsuit for these dives even during the summer months.
- Where to Dive: the Balearic Islands are a haven for divers. There are many sites around the island perfect for divers of all levels. Let’s take a look at the top three.
- Big Cheese- this is one of the more unique dive sites in the area. You can get to this site by boat launching from Majorca.The site is a rocky formation that lies mostly underneath the water. The name comes from the many tunnels which divers can go through.You can see groupers, barracuda, scorpion fish, moray eels, and common dolphin-fish. Here’s a video showing off some of the tunnels.
- Llebeing Cabrera- an amazing dive site located around the uninhabited island of Cabrera. If you are an underwater photographer this is one spot you shouldn’t miss.You can see a variety of aquatic life including grouper, barracuda, and tuna. This video shows some of the aquatic life you can see at this site.
- Palma Wreck- a great wreck site for divers with an advanced certification. There are quite a few wrecks in this area.The one that you should pay attention to is a giant 40m (120ft) long cargo ship. The visibility around this site is usually between 10 and 20 meter (30 to 60 feet).If you have wreck qualifications you can enter this site through the wheelhouse. Here is a video of the wreck.
These islands have become more expensive in recent years due to luxury tourism. You can still find great options on a wide range of budgets for both diving and resorts. Remember that the waters here can be cold so make sure you bring a wetsuit of the appropriate thickness.
Diving in Spain Tips
The waters around Spain are cold. Especially on the north coast. Even during the warmest time of the year you will need a wetsuit for these dives. If you are cold natured then make sure to pack a suit with a little extra thickness.
Spain can be more expensive for diving than other dive destinations such as South East Asia. This is especially true for popular yachting destinations such as Majorca.
Remember that the best time to dive this part of the world is in the summer time so make sure you can plan accordingly. If you cannot dive in the summer then expect cold waters. During the winter months a drysuit may be necessary for certain areas.
Make sure you are following the instructions of the local dive masters. The waters can be cold and the dives advanced. If you follow their advice, Spain can be an amazing place for diving.
Lastly, Spain has certain regulations that you must first meet before being allowed to dive. You will need dive insurance and will need to carry your proof of insurance along with your log book and certification. There is a minimum age for diving which is different in each province. The average age is 16 years old.
Wrapping It All Up
Thinking about diving in Spain now?
It’s one of our favorite destinations for diving.
We enjoy the opportunity to spot rare unique species such as moonfish and sunfish.
Also, the opportunity to see sharks on the northern coast can’t be beat. Have you dove in these waters before? Let us know in the comments what you think.