If you love diving, in Portovenere you will find different spots where to enjoy the amazing seabed of the Protected Marine Area within the Regional Nature Park of Porto Venere. Here are the top dive sites in the Gulf of Poets near Cinque Terre.
Secca di Dante – Palmaria Island
At about 30 meters from Capo dell’Isola (southern tip of Palmaria Island) in direction of Tino Island and at a depth of about 12 meters, you find an interesting set of rocks that extend up to 28 meters. It is covered by Bryozoa like Pentapora fascialis, and different varieties of Gorgoniidae. On the rubble bottom, there are Eunicella verrucosa, Eunicella singularis and Leptogorgia sarmentosa. This is a beautiful and evocative dive, although you could encounter some difficulty due to currents and occasional scarce visibility. For this reason, it is suggested for expert divers. The low season is the best period to visit this dive site, to avoid the high boat traffic above during the summer months.
Grotta del Tinetto – Tinetto Island
This is one of the most beautiful and scenic dive sites in Portovenere, Cinque Terre and Gulf of Poets. It can be enjoyed both by experts and beginners and is the perfect spot for underwater videos and photos. The grotto is on the western side of the tiny island, right where you see a large crack that opens the outer wall. Swim down along this wall and you will find the cave at around 18 meters of depth. It is 30-meter long and gets narrower towards the end, where there is a chimney that connects with the land. The sun penetrates through the crack and creates some amazing effects. Along the grotto you can easily find Parazoanthus, Petrosia, Nudibranchs, cardinalfish (Apogon imberbis), Plesionika shrimps and corbs.
Parete del Tino – Tino Island
This dive site is located on the western side of Tino Island and is characterized by a small cove dominated by a cliff that is about 80 meters tall and that plunges into the sea. The spectacular verticality continues underwater, up to a depth of about 30 meters. In the deepest part of the wall you will find many colourful soft corals of the Gorgoniidae, Paramuriceidae and Plexauridae family. At a distance the vertical wall seems smooth, but once near you will notice many small caves and ravines inhabited by eels and octopus. In this diving spot you will also find lobsters, scorpionfish and Combtooth blennies, among others.
Cala Grande – Palmaria Island
This creek is located on the western side of Palmaria Island. At a depth of 7-8 meters you find a series of rocks and openings within them. Here you can easily see lobsters, crabs, octopus, moray eels, conger eels and sometimes even groupers. Dive deeper to see Leptogorgia sarmentosa and Nudibranchs.
Cala Piccola – Palmaria Island
Easy dive on the western coast of Palmaria Island. As soon as you dive you can see an old mining cart, dating back to the time when the portoro marble was extracted on this island. Redfish, congers and lobsters can be spotted among the rocks, while on the sandy bottom it is easy to meet mullets in search of food.
Secca del Tinetto – Tinetto Island
This diving site in the south of Tinetto Island is easy to spot thanks to the statue of the White Madonna. You will find an explosion of life just a few meters below. There are 2 diving itineraries, locally referred to as Lato Nord and Lato Sud. Along the northern side you reach a crack at about 8 meters of depth, and by crossing it you can reach the bottom at about 25 meters. The walls are covered by Gorgoniidae corals and between the ravines there are conger eels, moray eels, octopuses and lobsters. Along the south side at a depth of 15 meters you can find red soft corals, Leptogorgia sarmentosa, Parazoanthus, nudibranchs and starfish.
Grotta Arpaia (or Byron Grotto) – Portovenere
This diving site is not located inside the Protected Marina Area, but it still offers an interesting seabed and is ideal for inexperienced divers. It is right in Portovenere, on the coast that leads to Riomaggiore, in the stretch of water between the promontory of San Pietro and the ancient garrison walls. From a depth of 5 meters and as you dive towards the bottom, you can notice several ravines where fish and lobsters hide. At the depth of 18 meters, there is a sandy bottom where, depending on the season, you can spot goatfish, cuttlefish and soles.
Portovenere Diving with a Semi-Submarine
This summer you can explore the seabed of Portovenere, Palmaria Island and Cinque Terre with “Valentina”, the semi-submarine by NemoSub Italy. The vessel is ideal for a family tour, or even just to experience something different and enjoy the sea without having to dive.
The Semi-Submarine departs from Portovenere every day, weather and sea conditions permitting, at the following times: 10.00 – 11.00 – 12.00 – 13.00 – 14.00 – 15.00 – 16.00 – 17.00 – 18.00 – 19.00 – 20.00. Night excursions are also available, upon request. “Valentina” will stay in Portovenere until October.
Diving Sites Source: “I tesori sommersi del Parco. L’Area di Tutela Marina” by Adriano Penco and the official website of Parco Naturale Regionale di Porto Venere.