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The Artist formerly known as 'Kirky'
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Crete Diving – trip report

Its that time of the year again where the family go on our annual holiday. Like most times – I book with one eye on the families needs and the other on diving opportunities. This year it was Crete.

The Destination

We stayed at the Grecotel ` Rythmna Beach` on the north of Crete near Rethymnon. Hotel was great but a word of caution – if you like a drink or two go to the local bars, the drinks are less than half price. One reason for choosing this hotel is that it had an on site dive operator, Atlantis Diving centre. (www.atlantis-creta.com) email [email protected]

Surface temperatures were 30 degrees centigrade but a breeze continually blows.

The Diving

I decided on a 10 dive package (290 euros) plus a night dive (59 euros). Diving on Crete is strictly regulated by the Greek government, and as such there are not too many sites, more specifically three depending on the weather/wind strength which has a disastrous effect. The 3 sites are :

Panormo :  Small bay on the north of the island. A Boat dive can be done here with max depth about 15m. Sadly the sea conditions ruled this out for the 2 weeks I was there ! !. However, did manage to dive Panormo on a night dive. Max depth allowed was about 10m for 45 mins. Lots of life in the dark – scorpionfish, octopus, crabs and also bioluminescence when you swith off your lights and pat yourself – eerie ! !.

Bali :  No, not that Bali, this Bali is a sheltered cove about 30 mins drive from the hotel. This is a shore dive with 3 options – to the left, to the right or straight ahead.. Max depth is about 18m and to be honest there is not a lot to see – fish life is minimal and the topology is not dramatic. There is a lot of small stuff if you look for it (starfish, fireworms, tubeworms etc) but it is not a fantastic dive.

Skinaria :  This is located an hour away on the south side of Crete and is used when the North side (Bali & Panormo) are blown out. This trip is worth it just for the scenery, driving on roads and tracks through the mountains was an experience in itself and the views awesome. Skinaria is also shore diving with 2 options ; to the left or to the right around the headlands.

The underwater topography is better here with huge boulders, drop offs, swim thrus  and a bit more sea life.

The left hand dive takes you to the headland where a wall drops off to about 32m. the wall has loads of nooks and crannies where, if you are lucky, you will spot various sealife.

The right hand dive goes to about 26m, after a while you reach a large cave at about 18m where you can safely enter. Exiting is either by returning the way you came or via 2 `chimneys` which exit you at 10m. Also good fun was doing the reverse – down the chimney into the cave and exit at 18m.

Fish life was a bit better – moray eels, large grouper, octopus etc.

The people :  Atlantis is run by Giorgos and Lizzy – most of the dives were conducted by Dominic, Martin and Uwe – a personal thanks for trying to get the most out of the dives for us. The clientele is cosmopolitan and comprises Italians, Brits, Germans and a smattering of other continentals. If you behave you get a free beer on returning to base.

The verdict :  Not the greatest diving in the world, but when the alternative is boredom in the sun by the pool then any diving is good diving. Easy diving with no currents, average vis between 15 – 25m, friendly staff . I would recommend Atlantis. If anyone wants any further info or underwater pics (taken with Olympus C4040Z in PT010 housing using internal flash) then email me. I will be posting some on this site in the near future.

John Kirk
 

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Visited Rethymnon last year but dived in  Castelli Kissomou in the North of the island. Similar experiences to yourself. Only average as a dive destination:) enjoyed the report.
Tony
 

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Only just got around to looking at the photos - excellent particularly with onboard flash.
 
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