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Diving in Elba

Touted as one of the best places to dive in the Mediterranean Sea, the sunny, Italian island of Elba hosts an amazing variety of marine life, including sun fish, eagle rays and schools of amberjacks.

Diving in Elba

Quick facts

As perhaps the best diving area in the Mediterranean, Elba’s protected environment breeds interesting marine encounters, gorgeous sea beds and fascinating archaeological discoveries. Surrounded by clear, blue waters and white sand beaches, Elba is a fantastic getaway for divers and non-divers alike.

To name just a few of our favorite dive sites on Elba, The Elviscot must top the list as one of the only shore dives on the island. It is also a shallow wreck at just 35 feet (12 meters). The ship sank after a particularly violent storm pushed it ashore in 1972. The brightness of the dive site is sure to delight both underwater photographers and beginner divers.

Formiche della Zanca is another very popular dive site on the island’s northern coast. The environment here consists of a group of rocks emerging from the water. The rocks descend to an amazingly scenic seabed with a maze of trails divers can follow.

Just outside the bay of Portoferraio, there is a small isle where divers will find the site named Scoglietto of Portoferraio. The seabed here is dotted with natural formations and, in the right season, shoals of pelagic fish, such as silver amberjacks.

These represent only three of the dive sites around Elba. There are plenty more to explore. Do note, however, that Elba experiences a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and humid winters. During the summer months, water temperatures climb to 82°F (26°C). However, during the winter months, water temperatures tend to hover around 50°F (10°C) and most marine life except for nudibranchs and other critters disappears. During the right season, you would be hard pressed to find better Italian diving than that offered by Elba, a gorgeous Tuscan paradise.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

Elba welcomes a large variety of marine life during the spring, summer and fall. In winter, most of the area’s fauna moves to warmer waters.

Among the sandy seabeds and fascinating rock formations, divers have the opportunity to find shoals of amberjacks, tuna, grouper, the elusive sun fish, octopus, lobsters, the Mediterranean bamboo shark, moray eels and sea grass eels.

Sponges, sea fans and small red corals are also visible. Nudibranchs, sea horses and other macro life can be spotted year round.


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A paradise for divers, Elba’s coastline is dotted with hidden coves and long, sandy beaches. The island is part of the Tuscan Archipelago in Italy and located about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the coastal town of Piombino. Elba is the largest island in its archipelago and the third largest island in Italy after Sicily and Sardinia.

The history of the 224 square kilometer island is quite interesting, albeit long and varied. Its strategic position and plethora of natural resources made it coveted by the great powers of the world. The ancient civilizations of the Etruscans, the Romans, Pisa, the Appiani Lordship and Spain all laid claim to the island at one point or another. However, Elba’s most famous visitor was Napoleon who lived here for 10 months during his exile. Visitors to the island today can explore the buildings Bonaparte left behind as a result of his short stay.

In 1950, the island opened to tourism and since then the local residents have made a valiant effort to preserve the natural flora and fauna of Elba. Today it is a part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park along with Pianosa, Capraia, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri. The park is also one small part of the Natura 2000 project which is the largest worldwide network of protected natural areas.

Other attractions

Because of its geographic location and fascinating history, Elba is full of amazing topside attractions. Alternative watersports include windsurfing, kitesurfing, fishing and sailing. For those with a penchant for natural environments, there are hiking, cycling and horseback riding trails that climb up the mountainous landscape and ultimately offer stunning views of the Mediterranean. Portoferrario exudes its long and varied history through its ancient stone staircases and tiny restaurants and shops. History lovers will enjoy exploring the historic fortresses surrounding the city or Napoleon’s home which is now open for tours. And if it’s relaxation you’re after, Elba’s waters are perfect for a sunny summer day.

Getting there

There is a small airport on Elba called Marina di Campo Airport that welcomes small flights from nearby European locales, but the best way to reach the island of Elba is to take the ferry from Piombino. The nearest train station to the ferry terminal is Piombino Marittima Station, which is serviced by trains originating throughout Italy.

With that said, most people drive to the ferry terminal and take their cars to the island as there is not a great public transportation system available in Elba. For those without a car, buses do circle the island and hitchhiking is a possibility.


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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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