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Diving in Catalonia

Sunny Catalonia in Spain is home to Costa Brava, Barcelona and Tarragona. All three destinations host a variety of dive sites for all levels, including caves, wrecks, corals and underwater mountains.

Diving in Catalonia

Quick facts

Spain is one of the best European countries for diving. All along its coast, you will find dive shops and a variety of underwater environment. Of its coastal areas, Catalonia arguably offers the best diving. Here, you can find a wide range of wrecks, underwater mountains and corals in a warm and safe environment. For ease of discussion, Catalonia’s dive sites can be split geographically into Costa Brava, Barcelona and Tarragona.

The province of Girona, locally referred to as Costa Brava, is the most popular dive destination in Catalonia. Here divers will find Los Ullastres, a series of three underwater peaks; the Medes Islands with their protected seabed; Cap de Creus, the first Maritime Terrestrial Nature Reserve of Spain; and the Formigues Islands which host a long history of shipwrecks.

To the south of Girona, the major metropolitan area of Barcelona also hosts several dive sites. Just twenty minute’s drive from the city, divers will find a wide variety of underwater habitats including underwater meadows, cliff faces and a couple of shipwrecks. One site in particular is known for its ‘underwater flight’ of eels.

Finally, Tarragona in the far southern region of Catalonia is the least visited dive destination. That doesn’t mean the sites aren’t worth exploring. Advanced and technical divers will love El Cavour, a steamboat sunk in 1917 that today rests at 170 feet (52 meters).

Diving in Catalonia is possible year-round, although winter temperatures are a bit cooler than those felt during the hot summer months. Water temperatures average from 60-75°F (16-24°C) throughout the year. Most diving takes place from a boat, although in certain areas a limited number of shore dives are possible. If you are interested in diving Spain, consider Catalonia as your destination. It has some of the best and most diverse dive sites, but is far less crowded than other area’s of the Spanish coast.

When to go

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What to see

Catalonia’s varied dive sites give birth to several interesting marine life species. Red and yellow sea fans, red corals and gorgonians form reefs on underwater peaks and walls. Here lobster, conger eels, cray fish, moray eels, small octopus and nudibranchs hide among the rocks. Monkfish, flat fish and scorpion fish prefer to hide on sandy and rocky bottoms. Shoals of grouper are the most common big sighting, but if you’re lucky, you might also spot a group of eagle rays or a school of barracuda.


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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


Catalonia is officially an autonomous community in the northeast of Spain. Its nationality runs deep in the population who have long yearned for a country of their own. To the north, Catalonia borders France and Andorra. To the east, the coast touches the Mediterranean Sea. Elsewhere, Catalonia is surrounded by other provinces of Spain. Its capital city is the major metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Historically and culturally rich, Catalonia is an old and controversially established nation. People have lived on these lands for around 35,000 years, and relics of ancient times can be found all over the community. However, for more than 1000 years, Catalonia has been the center of monarchial and political tensions with the rest of Spain. The County of Barcelona was founded in 801 by Charlemagne. Since then a series of kings and queens intermarried with other important monarchs of the Iberian Peninsula. At the turn of the 20th Century, Spain suffered from economic tensions leading to the rise of the dictator Francisco Franco. During this time, Franco suppressed the Catalan community and its culture. However, in 1978, modern Spain was formed. The constitution today recognizes differing nationalities and Catalan has enjoyed varying degrees of autonomy since the late 70s.

Today, the separatist movement is still alive. Particularly following the economic crisis of 2008, Catalonians have rallied for an independent country. With that said, this region of Spain remains safe for visitors. Almost all of the protests are non-violent in nature. Catalan makes every effort to preserve its culture. Don’t expect to hear much Spanish in the area. Catalan is the official language along with Aranese. Visiting Catalan is a unique holiday experience created by the mix of Spanish and Catalan culture.

Other attractions

Catalan is a huge country and a popular tourism destination. Barcelona is the most important city and a very interesting tourist attraction. Here you will find world-class restaurants, the colorful Sagrada Familia, wonderful beaches and fantastic museums. The province of Girona hosts Medieval cities such as Girona itself, several national parks with hiking trails, vineyards perfect for wine tasting, and Salvador Dalí’s Theatre and Museum in Figueres. On the south side of Barcelona, visitors to Tarragona can partake in many activities including hiking in the Serra de Llaberia, visiting the Roman Aqueduct in Tarragona, and learning about artistic architecture at the Gaudi Centre Reus. Finally, Lleida is the inland province of Catalonia which is home to the fantastic Turo Seu Vella, the Parc Municipal de la Mitjana, and the Iglesia Sant Llorenc. There certainly won’t be a dull topside moment during your trip to Catalonia.

Getting there

Barcelona International Airport is a European hub that welcomes flights from around the world. It is also possible to fly into Girona Airport, Reus Airport or Lleida Airport. Many visitors additionally arrive by train or bus from elsewhere in Spain or Europe.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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