Cyprus is a paradise island that sits far off in the eastern Mediterranean, a place where there is a growing and thriving diving scene as more and more people become tuned in to the fact that the diving here is every bit as good as that offered in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and South Pacific.
Why dive in Cyprus?
While seasoned scuba-divers have traditionally made their way to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab in Egypt, or Eilat in Israel, the waters of the eastern Mediterranean maintain temperatures of up to 25°C into October and so offer a longer diving season than those neighbouring resorts.
And the usually calm seas mean not only do divers have very little current to contend with, but visibility can be as far as 30 metres in places – all of which is great for beginners and experts alike.
Wreck diving in Cyprus
A period of over-fishing in the eastern Mediterranean means there isn’t the abundance of marine life you get in other resorts, but a number of strategically sunk, environmentally-sound shipwrecks means the island has some of the world’s best wreck-diving on offer.
Larnaca – RS Zenobia
One of the best diving sites the island has to offer is just half-a-mile outside Larnaca harbour, where the wreck of the Zenobia roll-on, roll-off ferry lies after it was left to sink in 1980 following the safe evacuation of passengers and crew.
The wreck now lies at a depth of around 40 metres and is an underwater crypt littered with the remains of rusting vans, lorries and cargo, including the remains of livestock that went down with the ship.
However, it’s worth noting this isn’t for novices and because of the dangers presented by wreck diving it’s only open to divers with a PADI Advanced Open Water qualification.
Larnaca – The Alexandria Wreck
Resting 32 metres below the surface, and relatively close to the Zenobia wreck, the Alexandria was a fishing boat that was dragged out to its watery grave after it started to sink while moored in the harbour.
The wreck is home to a range of sea-life such as barracuda, amberjack and triggerfish.
Protaras – The Liberty Wreck
Purposely sunk back in 2009, the Liberty Wreck which sits 27 metres below the surface just off the Golden Coast Marina, is a fast-growing home for turtles, rays and octopus, and is great for beginners.
Protaras – The Nemesis III
Sunk in 2014, the Nemesis III is the newest of the island’s wrecks and sits close to the Liberty Wreck in 24 metres of water. It’s not attracted much sea-life yet, but is easily accessible to divers of all levels.
Xylafagou – HMS Cricket
If it’s a wreck with history you’re after, this World War II gunboat will be just the ticket. It sank to its watery grave after the British Army in Cyprus were given it to use for target practice and now lies upside down in around 30 metres of water – meaning you’ll have to swim underneath to see its gun turrets.
Natural cave and reef diving
If wreck diving isn’t your thing, the nearby bat-cave is a good spot for beginners, while the eastern part of the island between Protaras and Ayia Napa has some breathtaking underwater caves where you can see octopus, lobster and cuttlefish. The south of the island also has dive sites with the colourful reefs and sea-life you’d expect from a diving expedition.