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Diving in Liguria

Diving in Liguria offers some of the best diving in the Mediterranean, the birthplace of Italian diving. Home to many top class dive sites.

Diving in Liguria

Quick facts

Steep mountains plunge straight down to marine canyons along this stretch of the Italian Riviera, which lays claim to some of the best diving in the Mediterranean. The epicenter of scuba here, some 30 kilometres/18 miles east of Genoa, is the famous seaside village of Portofino. Flanked by the towns of Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli, Portofino is also the birthplace of Italian diving. An extremely popular resort destination, especially with the rich and famous, Portofino has just over 500 permanent residents. But in summer mega yachts cram the picturesque harbor and the boutiques, art galleries and cafes, which line the tiny streets, throng with visitors. The fact that the village is reproduced in some detail at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, USA gives some idea just how stunning this charming village truly is. Hiking the myrtle-clad hills overlooking the bay and whiling away the days people watching on the beach are popular ways to dodge the crowds, but none can compare with slipping silently beneath the surface and enjoying one of the many top class dive sites dotted along the coast.

Recommended training

Many dive sites in the region are quite deep; so consider the PADI Deep Diver specialty. There are also great sites to apply Wreck Diver training. As always, the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course will help you record your visit

When to go

Portofino has a mild climate with no extremes. Summers are pleasantly warm without being too hot. During winter, temperatures drop to less than 10°C/50°F and they rise to 29°C/85°F in the height of summer (July and August). Water temperature varies from a low of 15°C/59°F to a high of 26°C/79°F. Visibility averages 20 metres/70 feet and can extend to more than 30 metres/100 feet.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Christ of the Abyss - This is the original. Installed in August 1954 in the small bay at San Fruttuoso, it commemorates diver Dario Gonzatti who died while diving an early rebreather. The famous sculpture lies at 16 meters/53 feet and is kept company by schools of damselfish, perch and wrasse. This is a fairly easy dive in sheltered waters and there are options for more challenging wreck and wall dives in the area. Copies of the statue are located at St. George’s, Grenada and Key Largo, Florida, USA. Colossus - This steam-powered tug measures 33 meters/110 feet long with a beam of 8 metres/26 feet went to the bottom in 1945 during World War Two. An advanced or technical dive, she lies intact at about 40 metres/130 feet on a sandy bottom. Now well colonized by marine life, the massive bronze propelle and well-preserved galley and crew’s quarters make for an exciting dive. Isuela - This underwater pinnacle reaches up from 60 meters/200 feet to within 13 meters/40 feets of the surface. Nutrient rich currents bathe the site and feed a profusion of marine life. Look for moray and conger eels in the many cracks and crevices. Gorgonians filter feeding in the current carpet the steep walls and big schools of snapper prowl the area. This is often hailed as one of the best dives in the Med, testament to the protections afforded by marine reserves. Shrimp Cave - A vertical wall starting at about 20 metres/66 feet drops steeply into the abyss here. At about 35 meters/115 feet, Shrimp Cave is home to vast numbers pale red pandalid shrimp, which shy from divers’ lights. Healthy colonies of red coral and yellow sponges cover the walls and grouper colonize the rocky shallows of this high voltage dive site. Mohawk Deer - This Canadian steam powered cargo ship was on tow from Genoa to the salvage yard at La Spezia in 1974, when she struck a rock and broke into two massive chunks. It’s now one of the best know and loved dive sites in the area. A great spot for a multilevel dive, the stern and boilers lie deeper than 40 metres/130 feet and the bow section is just over 20 metres/66 feet from the surface. Scorpion fish, moray and conger eels and grouper call the wreck home. Punta Secca Carega - Also known as Dry Gonzatti, (after Dario Gonzatti, the diver commemorated by Christ of the Abyss) this dive site lies not far offshore the Portofino peninsula. A 20-metre/66-foot deep saddle separates the pinnacle from shore and then rises to within 5 metres/15 feet of the surface before plunging steeply to more than 50 metres/165 feet. Schools of anthias, snapper and bream populate the site and gorgonians reach from the reef for current-born goodies.

What to see

Moray and conger eels, lobster, octopus, scorpion fish, and large species such as tuna, grouper, snapper and barracuda. Whales and dolphins are regular visitors.


For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


Liguria is a region in north-western Italy. This coastal region has a very varied geographical outlook. Liguria has Alps and Apennines in the north and a sprawling 350 kilometers long coast line along Ligurian Sea. Its terrain is defined by a series of lush green rolling hills that descend continuously as they approach the coastal areas. Liguria is a popular tourist destination owing to its natural beauty, pristine beaches and history. Genoa is the largest and capital city. It is also an important Mediterranean port. The climate is friendly enough to warrant year round influx of tourists. The winters are mild and summers are warm and rainy. The average winter temperatures are 7 to 10 degrees Celsius, a far cry from the harsher conditions elsewhere in Europe. Liguria is also known for its wine production. Although, an agricultural region in past, it is fast becoming an industrial epicenter.

Other attractions

Castello Brown perched high above Portofino is a must visit medieval castle with stunning views over the village. San Giorgio Church is on the way to Castello Brown and a scenic walk takes you to the lighthouse on Punta del Capo. Check out the eighth century Benedictine abbey in San Fruttuoso. There is great hiking on well-marked trails and hanging out on the beach is always an option to while away a surface interval.

Getting there

The major airports is Cristoforo Colombo Airport (GOA) in Genoa.
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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