Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean is in between the Ionian the Aegean and the Libyan sea. Its exquisitely beautiful and interesting landscape is continued below today's sea level with gorges, cliffs, caves, valleys and ship wrecks that are hiding underwater just waiting to be explored.
The rich waters of the Atlantic Ocean that feed the Mediterranean lose many of their nutrients and evaporate before they reach this area. This results in the formation of a sea of low nutrition but high in salt. What this means is that fewer species live in these waters, the biodiversity, however, is not affected and offers clear waters with transparency better that most of the world famous diving destinations.
The morphology and relatively small surface of the Mediterranean make tides and the consequent currents are almost not existent to divers create ideal conditions for pleasant diving experiences. The temperature is high even in the winter with an average of 20⁰ degrees.
The ban of diving with autonomous diving equipment was recently lifted by the Ministry of Culture and the Curator of Underwater Antiquities. This permits even more people to discover this rich and unexplored world and the makes the development of organized diving possible. Some of the more popular diving sites are the following:
- Agios Onoufrios
This area attracts more divers that any other diving center in Chania. The caves in an inlet and difficulty levels ranging from beginner to advances guaranty a satisfactory experience to everyone. All the caves have natural light and you can rise to the surface through the caves. Access is only feasible by boat. On the western side that lies across you can enjoy a very interesting sea bed with small cracks and cavities that provide shelter to a plethora of organisms.
- Macherida area, Akrotiri
This is a small cove with two small sandy beaches. The most interesting part is on the left side of the small beach. The entrance and exit to and from the water is easy as is diving. A wall begins a few meters from the beach. You are sure to see it if you are swimming in deeper water and the rocks are to your left.
- Paliosouda islet
Paliosouda is a small island that is visible from Marathi in the entrance of Souda bay. You need a boat to get to the location. Make sure your dive includes the eastern portion as it is of great interest. The transition from the small wall in the beginning to the smaller and larger rocks that end in a sandy, full of seaweed, seabed is well worth the dive. This islet is protected from the winds with the rare exception of eastern winds.
- Afrata Area
The pebble beach that you reach after crossing the small village of Afrata has a beautiful seabed ideal for beginners. Almost the entire area is covered by rock and flat stones with interesting flora and fauna.
On a flat seabed with single rocks that rise from the white sand combined with the crystal clear waters offer the diver the feeling that he is floating over islands. You will need a boat to get to this location as the seabed is located on the eastern tip of the cove that encompassed Grammeno beach quite far from the end road.
This location is only for experienced divers. The tip of the cove to the left of the beach offers a scaled wall with unique morphology that reaches much deeper than the limits of amateur diving. There are currents in the area, something common in deeper water. It is worth it, however, as wherever there are disturbances in the water there is rich sea life with many surprises. Keep in mind the waters here are considerably chillier that in other areas but they are very clean and transparent.
Instructions for protecting the marine environment:
If you are not interested in the facilities that diving centers offer and wish to dive on your own or with your own group upon deciding the location with the best weather conditions you must contact the local port authority and get information about possible area restrictions (archeological, portal, military). You must keep in mind that some species and habitats require considerable caution by the diver. Both the environment of the cave and the various organisms that grow in the cave can be easily destroyed by even a simple brush by our bodies or equipment. In addition some of these locations are the last place of refuge for the endangered species of the Mediterranean sea. The sea turtles are more tolerant of divers when contact occurs on their terms. Let them distance themselves without going after them. The valleys that consist of sea plants and not sea weed have many functions. They are measures of the ecosystems proper function, offer refuge and a place of reproduction for a plethora of organisms and fish, filter the water and help its clarity and reduce the strength of the waves thus protecting the shores. Many endangered species live near or in them such as the Mediterranean bivalve seashell, the pinna and the difficult to find camouflaged seahorse. Pay them proper attention. Get and give information on how to better protect the marine environment that will lead to even better dives.