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Scuba diving: one of my greatest dreams. Unfortunately, my inner ear won’t let me. But over the years I’ve talked to plenty of serious divers, and they’ve told me that the Canary Islands are most definitely a scuba do, boasting some of Europe’s best diving at all skill levels (and snorkeling, too, for that matter – now that I can do). The water’s usually warm all year round, there’s good visibility, and both the marine scenery and fauna (including the gorgeous lobster above, and 11 species found only here) are exceptional, thanks to the combination of warm temperatures and the vast Atlantic Ocean.
A good place to start is the underwater geography, which can be pretty dramatic because these islands are volcanic, meaning lots of craggy walls, overhangs, caves, chimneys, canyons, tunnels, and plenty of other cool features. There are also wrecks and reefs to explore. Fortunately, all 13 Iberostar resorts in the Canary Islands have top-notch dive facilities.
Here are just a handful of the underwater highlights out here:
● A local “stingray city” off Los Gigantes on Tenerife’s west coast.
● El Cabrón marine reserve of Gran Canaria, with 400 species including angel sharks, trumpet fish, moray eels, marbled electric rays, barracuda, giant anemones, and lots more.
● Lanzarote’s lava caves, blue hole, and wreck diving such as the eight-wreck (!) site Los Erizos.
● The underwater stone crosses of Malpique off La Palma, commemorating Jesuit missionaries killed by pirates in the 16th century.
● El Hierro’s Restinga marine reserve, which harbors larger fish like grouper and jacks, than you’ll find elsewhere in the islands; also several species of shark. And while here, don’t forget to say hi to a well-known local resident, Pancho the Grouper, who’s become a local symbol of the island of El Hierro. I'd suggest memorizing his face in the picture above so you can tell him apart from all the other groupers.
Happy trails… of bubbles!
Photo: Felix Esteban