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Jonah
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Trip Report: Javea (Xabia) on the Costa Blanca, Spain. Last two weeks of August.

This wasn't a dedicated diving trip, but we took our gear along and did half a dozen dives while we were there. The info might be interesting to anyone else heading to this area of Spain, especially as the Spanish government is apparently trying to promote dive tourism in the area.

Air temp was about 35c most of the time. Water temp about 28c at the surface; the lowest bottom temp I had was 21c at 24m, but 24ish probably  more common. This was apparently hotter than usual, and temps apparently go down to 14ish in the winter. I was quite happy in a 5mm semi, though a couple of the dive guides were wearing thicker stuff with hoods. There were visible thermoclines on most of the dives, on one trip the water was so "shimmery" that everything was really blurred in one area.

The best viz we got was 15-20m on one dive, 10ish was more common, with 5m during parts of a couple of dives.

We dived with an outfit called Cabo La Nao Diving ( http://www.cabolanao.com/principalen.htm  - note that they don't currently go to some of the locations on their website, including the big cavern thingy, which was a bit disappointing. And some of the pictures clearly don't reflect the local marine life!). The staff at the centre, and the dive guides, were fine, their rental gear was pretty dodgy though. Just about anything that could leak air did leak air (BCDs, SPG, one morning I went through three reg sets before I found one I was happy to use). Diving was off ribs, one of which - you guessed it - leaked air and was periodically topped up from a scuba tank! There are also several other dive centres in the area, going to pretty much the same sites and we saw quite a few people diving off private boats. Interestingly, they had a lot of large tanks (18l) set up with H-valves - seems to be a local preference. One day we went out with just me+buddy+guide+rib driver; on the other trips there were groups of 6-7 (mostly English on one day, mostly Spanish on the other).

We had heard that medical certificates were legally required to dive in Spain, but there was no mention of this at the dive centre. They did want our (holiday) insurance documents though, presumably in case of accident, which they kept in the office along with our cert cards while we were out on the boats.


I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of life - having snorkelled (though not dived) in the Med before, I wasn't expecting much, but we saw lots of fish on all the dives - mainly various species of wrasse and bream; clouds of chromis, some anthias, lots of salemas, a couple of morays, stonefish, scorpionfish. There were a few small groupers about, the largest I saw was about 18 inches long. Quite a few octopus about too, a couple of spiny lobsters, loads of starfish, plenty of anemones (beadlet and snakelocks), lots of sponges, soft corals, some gorgonians etc.

I guess you'd describe the dives as scenic - pretty varied bottom topography, lots rocky reefs, large boulders, shallow drop-offs and overhangs, arches and tunnels - plenty of nice easy swim-throughs. All the tunnels we were taken into were large and pretty short, with easy access to the surface - we're not talking cave penetration stuff. Posidonia "meadows" in some areas. All were around the 20m mark. No wrecks.

Two sites stood out - first, the Cabo San Antonio marine reserve, which has lots of life - unfortunately we had pretty bad viz on that dive, and a couple of the divers in the group were doing their best to wipe out as much of the life as they could. obviously working towards their Advanced Seabed Kicking specialty badges. Apart from that, it was pretty impressive - a level sea bed littered with large boulders (size of 2-3 cars) encrusted with life. I'd like to see it again on a better day.

The other memorable site, which we did twice, was Las Termas - very broken rocky terrain, lots of tunnels etc, lots of life. A highlight was a large tunnel that led into the center of an island - a blow-hole / siphon type affair. We went through the tunnel and surfaced in a pool in the middle of the island, inaccessible by any other route. The water was dead calm and crystal clear, the place felt very peaceful, suffused with a really nice light. When you looked up at the water surface it was like looking in a mirror, broken only by our bubbles. Fortunately, that was the dive when there were only the three of us.

All in all, I enjoyed the diving. I woudn't go there specifically to dive, but if you're going to the area anyway on a family holiday or something then I'd say it was worth taking your gear along.


Tom
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Thanks for the report Tom. I havn't dived in that area but this year went to dive off Cabo de Palos & Cabo de Gata, further south, I wrote a trip report on this forum.
In Spain you need the medical insurance and your certification card but as far as I am aware not a doctors certificate- The maritime police can be strict and twice this year allready I've surfaced to see them waiting for us to check documents and also we didn't go fishing.From my experience on mainland Spain is that it is always best to take your own equipment if possible, especially regs. The diving is good and wvaried, from ATlantic - Med- Bay Biscay. Maybe not worth a special dive trip but worth a dive when there.
Below is a pic of a dogfish i spotted off Galicia last week.
 
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