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 a local Greek 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 peek at what scuba diving is all about. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to breathe 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 dive shop nice and early. Right way Nadine got 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 critical 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 kind of 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 used 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 missed the cuttlefish that was hanging out beside us. Nadine’s eagle eyes didn’t though. Even from the two-meter radius of Maximo’s 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.
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 cost approximately €40.00. Equipment rental and a boat dive go 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 to see if the course is offered in English).
Seasonality: The Greeks have had a long-standing relationship with the sea, and it continues today. For diehards it is possible to dive all year round but be aware, the regular scuba diving season runs from May to September when the weather is expected to be hot and dry with an average temperature 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 full 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 is 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 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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Bare 7mm thick elastek dry suit hood
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod and Bag with adjustable-height legs and rubber feet
DUI heavy duty dry suit gloves with yellow liners available in sizes: S, M, L, XL
Dry glove lock system that accommodates all hand sizes
GoPro HERO6 Black Camera
Compact scuba diving finger spool with 150ft of white line and a 4-inch brass double-ended clip
Capture amazingly smooth shake-free video with the GoPro Karma Grip
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
Ikelite TTL dual flash sync cord attaches two strobe’s to the underwater camera housing.
The Hydra 5000 WSRU is an all in one photo and dive light with wide, spot, red, and UV modes
Black Mares Dragon Scuba Diving BCD
Canon Macro Lens EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM – non Image Stabilised
Mini blue scuba diving tank key ring with brass pick tool and o-rings
Ikelite Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 underwater camera housing in white
Bare drysuit drawstring scuba gear bag the perfect alternative for transporting a dry suit to-and-from the dive site
Bare SB System Mens Full Under-layer
Diving lens filter kit for GoPro HERO 5/6 which enhances colors for underwater video and photography conditions
Ikelite aluminum digital camera tray with dual handles
Ikelite compact ball arm for quick release handle
Ikelite photography strobe DS161 with NiMH rechargeable battery pack
13-inch inflatable dive buoy with a 12 by 11-inch scuba diving flag surface marker
Capture amazingly smooth GoPro footage in the air with the GoPro Karma Drone
Rechargeable Ikelite NiMH battery pack compatible with Ikelite’s DS125, DS160, and DS161 strobes.
Black Mares Cruise Roller Tauchen bag, perfect for scuba diving and traveling
If you’re not quite ready for the expense of big lights, this little video light goes perfectly with any GoPro setup
Compact underwater scuba diving hand reel with a 150ft of white line on the spool
Ikelite underwater macro lens casing is comprised of an acetyl body with glass front and can hold lenses of 4.37 diameter x 3 inches (111 x 76 mm)
Scuba diving 4ft neon yellow surface marker signal tube with “Diver Below” print
Suunto SK-8 wrist compass with bungee straps, faster stabilization, and enhanced readability
Suunto Vyper Novo wrist scuba diving computer with USB
Bare drysuit trek boots designed for rocky shore entries, boat decks, and boat ladders
SHOOT 6″ Underwater Dome Port for GoPro Hero 6/Hero 5/Hero(2018) Black Camera Diving Lens Hood Housing Photography with Waterproof Case Accessories
GoPro dual battery charger conveniently charges two HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, or HERO camera batteries simultaneously
Flexible Lightweight Portable Tripod for Projector DSLR Cameras and Go Pro
Black scuba diving turtle fins
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD Large Aperture Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital DSLR Camera + 32GB Memory Card + Photo4Less Cleaning Cloth.