At the beginning of May, Greece is not one of the warmest places to dive but if you are willing to brave the cold and take the plunge like us, you will be rewarded with some clear waters and nifty sights.
My sister Nadine had never been diving before. I have been bugging her for a long time to get her certification but the timing has just never been right. For her birthday Joey and I decided to show her exactly what she was missing out on by taking her on a Discover Scuba experience with Aqua Divers Club, a local PADI certified dive shop. It was probably one of the best things we could have done.
The Discover Scuba Diving course is for any non divers who would like a small sneak peak at what scuba diving is all about. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to breath underwater or are wondering if you are ready to commit to an open water course, Discover Scuba is the perfect way to start. The PADI rated program teaches you the basics about breathing beneath the water under the direct supervision of a certified professional. During your course you will get a brief overview of the equipment, learn how your body and the ocean interact and find out what it feels like to don a scuba tank, weights, fins and a mask. For any rookies unsure if they want to take the plunge, I would highly recommend starting here.
Joey, Nadine and I arrived at the Aqua Divers Club dive shop nice and early. Right way Nadine was introduced to Maximo, her Discover Scuba instructor. She was given a small booklet to read and a mini test to complete. While Nadine was studying away Joey and I assembled and organized our gear.
It didn’t take Nadine long to read through the booklet. Most of the material was pretty familiar to someone who has been around a couple of dive bums for a long time. She and Maximo went over the quizzes and discussed some of the most important topics before moving on to the equipment. Together they assembled their tank, BCD and regulator doing the BWARF buddy check on each others equipment. Finally it was time to hit the water!
The shore dive site sloped into a beautiful promenade under the sea. With some luck we observed wrasse and damselfish filling the water like confetti. They darted this way and that way in a scatterbrain kinda motion fleeing from our exhaled bubbles. Nadine was paired up with the dive instructor and Joey and I trailed behind.
The dive was a nice shallow one, always staying within 20 feet of water with no safety stops required. It was a perfect dive for me to practice and get use to diving with my new underwater camera. Cool looking fish here and click, click with the camera shutter over there. I was in such a picture taking frenzy that I totally missed the cuttlefish that was hanging out beside us. Nadine’s eagle eyes didn’t though. Even from the two meter radius of Maximos side she pointed frantically and signaled to us. Too late, it was gone!
Forty-five minutes later the 3 of us came out of the water cold like popsicles, but all smiles. I’m not even squidding when I say this was one of the best dives ever, seriously. To have my sister there with me enjoying and immersing herself in something that I love so much, was without comparison.
Here’s to having my fingers and toes crossed that maybe now she will get her open water scuba certification. Girl Power!
Cost: The scuba diving shops in the southern part of Greece are all very well equipped to fulfill your diving needs. Prices range on the service you require. Equipment rental and a shore dive costs approximately €40.00. Equipment rental and a boat dive goes for €60.00 (please note that boat dives typically only happen during the summer months). Most dive shops have discounted package deals for divers who are looking to do more than one dive so make sure to ask for details.
A discover scuba diving program will cost the non certified divers €75.00 (for 2 or 3-4 people the cost goes down €65.00 and €48.00 respectively). And a scuba diving course ranging from beginner to more advanced courses can cost from €270.00 to €500.00 (check with your local scuba diving shop if the course if offered in English).
Seasonality: The Greeks have had a long standing relationship with the sea and it continues today. For die hards it is possible to dive all year round but be aware, the typical scuba diving season runs from May to September when the weather is expected to be hot and dry with an average temperatures of 27°C/80°F. During the summer months the water temperature comes in at around 16-23°C/60-74°F depending upon the site, sea and island. In the winter months the air temperatures drop to an average of 6°C/43°F and can make dives unpleasantly cold for those who aren’t trained to dive in adequate thermal protection (a dry suit).
Restrictions: At first glance Greece may seem like a sunny south scuba diving destination. Don’t be fooled, the water can still be relatively cold especially outside of high season. Make sure to have with you proper cold water gear (a 7mm wetsuit with gloves and a hood), or make sure you are familiar with diving in bulky gear. Beyond the gear make sure you bring your open water certification card (yes they check). Having your advanced is certainly not a bad idea as there can be some neat dive sites to visit at depth.
Companies: There are scuba diving all around the Greek coast that will be more than happy to take you out diving and show you some of the best of the Mediterranean sea. We did a shore dive with my sister who enrolled in the Discover Scuba Diving course through “Athens Diver Club” Diving Center. They were such a nice shop that even went as far as to lending us some old wetsuits so we could try some snorkeling during our three week stay in the Palaia Fokaia area. Here are some mainland shops towards the southern Athens tip of the country:
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