Snorkeling and SCUBA diving in Greece

If you have ever gone snorkeling, you will probably agree that it is a very relaxing activity, as the ocean bottom can be rich in underwater life and rock formations.

Places with a rocky bottom and a relative depth of six to ten feet offer the richest underwater landscape. Many times in a swim towards the rocky and remote areas around the sandy beaches reveals a variety of caves and caverns of varying sizes. I am always careful to stay away from strong currents, and to stay close to the shore, especially if my distance from a busy beach increases. I have compiled a beach index where I also rate the snorkeling experience according to my own visit.

Tips for an enjoyable snorkeling experience in Greece

There is no overstating the need to invest in a quality silicon mask which fits well around your face. The plastic masks typically sold in the beach stores usually fill with water very fast and make it impossible to see.

A snorkeling mask with a wide glass area is also best for snorkeling since it offers a wide angle of view. The snorkeling masks that have two lenses -one for each eye- are better suited for deep diving but restrict the field of view. A good mask should cost over €35 and you can find them in outdoor gear stores, or specialized scuba diving stores. A good shave is also prescribed for male divers since a beard cannot let the mask create a seal around the face, leading to a mask full of water and a frustrating snorkeling session.

If you have ever snorkeled you probably know that lens fogging can be a frequent problem. Surfacing and cleaning the mask every five minutes can be vexing and taxing. There are a variety of products in the market that promise to keep a snorkeling mask clean, but experienced divers would tell you that your own (free) saliva to be just as effective. Before entering the water rub some of your own saliva on the inside of the lens and rinse it with sea water. If you do this before the mask gets wet you should have a fog-free lens for at least half hour or more.

For a long time I used an inexpensive €2 snorkeling tube which worked fine, but once I invested the €25 to buy a tube with a filter, I enjoyed my dives even more. The snorkel with the filter allows breathing even when small waves crash over the tube, and I would recommend them highly.

A pair of quality fins can also enhance your snorkeling experience by allowing effortless propulsion through the water, and by keeping their shape after many many dives. Expect to pay over €40 for a good pair of fins, and you can purchase them at the multitude of scuba diving shops in Greece.

Underwater Photography

An underwater camera can also be a useful accessory for snorkeling. If you are a serious photographer you can buy a dedicated underwater still or video camera, but if you just want a few snap shots here and there you can purchase the disposable water proof cameras sold in photo supply stores and even supermarkets in Greece (they cost about €10 and contain 27 exposures.)

The water of the Aegean and Ionian sea is usually very calm in the morning, and as a rule it becomes choppy in the afternoon (after 4:00 PM). The visibility in the water, the wave height and currents vary from place to place, and from time to time so use caution on every dive. If you are not experienced swimmer make sure that you snorkel with company and stay close to the shore. Many times the passage of a large ferry off shore can bring a few unforeseen waves crashing onto an otherwise calm beach, and they can catch a diver by surprise. Also, be on the lookout for speed boats. They are plenty of speed boats in Greece, and they always seem to come dangerously close to the shore. As a rule of thumb I always try to swim as close to the rocks as possible, and as soon as I hear a speed boat approaching I surface and make my presence evident.

Snorkeling with children

Revealing the sea bottom can be a shocking experience for a child. I bought a snorkeling mask for my daughter at age five, and she used it primarily on sandy bottoms for a few months before we began venturing towards the rocky bottom of the beach. We always swim close together and point to the different fish and rock formations on the bottom. A disposable underwater camera and a net are great tools so a child could interact with the underwater life thus making a game out of the whole experience.

Regulations Concerning the Underwater Activities SCUBA Diving Regulations

(Offical ource: Greek National Tourist Organization reprinted by permission)

Underwater activities with breathing apparatuses are allowed from dawn to sunset.
The use of special equipment for the search and localization of antiquities as well as the existence of such equipment on the boats (yachts, sailing boats etc.) is strictly forbidden.
The lifting or removal or photographing of antiquities is forbidden. Any discovery of antiquities should be immediately reported to the local Archaeological Service or Port Authority or Police Authority.
The underwater fishing with breathing apparatuses is forbidden.
The establishing and function of diving schools are subjected to special licenses issued by the Ministry of Culture as well as by other Authorities.
No scientific or professional work at the bottom of the sea is to be carried out without the previous consent of the Ministry of Culture or the competent Authorities.
All divers should conform to the above restrictions and respect the provisions of the Law 5351/32 on antiquities.

Sea Areas for Underwater Activities (SCUBA Diving)

(With the use of oxygen tanks)

Attica

For educational purposes only.
At the second port of Vouliagmeni
At Varkiza bay at a distance of 100 m. from the small island Artemis
Along the coast from Kavouri to Legrena

Crete

In Hania,
along the coast from the bay “Megalou Sfakou” to the bay “Afraton”
In Rethimno,
along the coast of “Korakiou” and the western part of “Panormos”
In Heraklion,
along the coast of the bay “Fodele” at the cape “Hersonissos”, North of “Gournes” and at cape “Diakori”
In Lassithi,
along the coast at a distance of 500 m. east of the area “Panagia”

Mikonos

Along the coast at a distance of 500 m from the shore except the area included between cape Agios Georgios and Cape Alogomandra

Kalimnos

Along the coast near the bay Vlihadia to the cape Agios Georgios,

Rhodes

For educational purposes only

Along the coast of Kallithea at a distance of 120 m. north and 120 m. south of the bay

Corfu

Along the coast between the cape Roda to the cape Drastis at a distance of 500 m. from the shore
Along the coast from Paleokastritsa to cape Arkoudila at a distance of 500 m. from the shore except the sea area of Lagoudia islands
Along the coast from the cape Kountouri to cape Agni at a distance of 500 m. from the shore except the sea area of the islands Vido and Lazareto

Lefkada

Along the coast of the bay Balou of Meganissi island

Paxi

Along the coast of the island at a distance of 500 m. from the shore, except the following areas:
From the cape Koukoutsa to the area Litharia including the reef
From the cape Geromonahos to the area Tripitos
From the cape Pounta to cape Loutou
From the cape Laka to the Erimitis bay
The area Voutsi

Zakinthos

Along the coast of Laganas bay at a distance of 500 m. from the cape Agios Sostis to the cape Dafni

Chalkidiki - Sithonia Peninsula

Along the east coast from cape Armenisti to cape Drepano at a distance of 500 m. from the shore

Kavala

Along the coast facing the cape Kakoskala and at both sides of the cape Kakoskalo

Achaia

Along the coast near Lambirion

Argolid

Along the coast, east of the cape Steno

Messinia

Along the coast of Kalamata bay and the coast of Bouka and the bay Voedokilia in the area of Pylos

Magnesia

Along the part of the coast at the island Mikro Adelfi and round the island Tsougriaki

 



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