Above and Below the World

DIVING AT PORTO BAY I

Summary:

  • Date & place: 27/08/2020 | Porto Bay, Mediterran sea
  • Level: Open water/Advanced
  • External & underwater conditions: Windy and wavy | Good, without currents
  • Duration, visibility & water Tª: 60 min | Very good (+20 m) | 25 ºC
  • Max. depth & Gas: 28 m | Air
  • Surface time:  – 

Activity type:

Profile/Map:

Location:

Porto Bay is a beautiful gulf located in the town of  the same name, Porto. It is registered in the UNESCO World  Heritage since 1983 along with Calanques de Piana, to the south and the Scandola reserve and Cape Girolata, to the north.

The gulf, located in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica, is splendid, with its red granite cliffs that dominate the sea, this area really offers beautiful views to the sea and to the mountains.

Diving lovers will find many good dives in this area, such as Capo Rosso, Scopa, Scandola, Monte Rosso and Ficajola, where biodiversity abounds, in rock bottoms with poseidonea. We will enjoy rock walls with many cavities and canyons where we will enjoy diving with groupers, dentex, moray eels, nudibranchs and red coral, among many other species.

Porto Bay: Ficajola dive site

In this post we will put together our experience after diving 3 times in the same dive site, Ficajola. We were diving with Porto Plongee on August 27th and 28th, 2020 and due to the strong wind that blew those days, 3 of the 4 planned dives in the reserve were at this site (since it is one of the most protected sites in the gulf by the wind) so we have taken some average dive data for the 3 dives and then we will explain how the diving was and the things we saw.

In general, the 3 dives were long and entertaining, and as, we could change dive masters, we saw different places even if we went to the same diving point.

The dives are scheduled at 10am and 3pm (having to be at the club at 9am and 2pm) so as there is time between the 1st and 2nd dive of the day, the 2nd dive can also be lengthened and longer bottom time than if you only have 1h or so between dives. In addition being the 2nd dive at noon there is more light and visibility with the sun on top.

So, we went early to the club, where it is possible to park right next to the diving center (free parking) which is very convenient. The Porto club takes the bottles to the zodiacs and around 9:30 a.m. we embark and depart to the first dive of the day!

In the port of Porto, ready to go diving!

Views of the town of Porto from the port

We are 4 + the instructor. This first dive will be very quiet, we start going down towards the bottom of rock and posidonia, where we spend a while at the bottom, passing through a cave from time to time. We see some beautiful and colorful nudibranchs, vaquitas ‘cows’ and some large groupers but without great presence of fish in general.

The most spectacular thing about this dive is the landscape full of rocks (some with red coral) and the cliffs that fall towards the sea; it is so pretty.

Nudibranch type Thuridilla hopei

Nudibrach ‘cow’

Detail of the different colors that form the sponges on the walls

In the afternoon, on the 2nd dive, we are also 4 + the guide, but this time we change guides and do a different tour from the morning one.

We also have more visibility since the sun’s rays at this time enter almost perpendicular in the water and we enjoy much more activity: dentex, moray eels, lobsters, diplodus vulgaris,.. we also see beautiful red coral and gorgonians in this landscape of rock and posidonia, as well as nudibranchs and macro life as in the previous dive.

Group of diplodus vulgaris  dby the rocky bottom with posidonea

Detail of yellow gorgonian

Red coral

Sargus. Key species in rocky ecosystems as it eats hedgehogs!

Very happy with these dives we return to the diving club. The journey takes about 20 minutes and despite the swell due to the wind it is not heavy, the captain drives the zodiac very well and smoothly.

We return to the club and leave everything ready for diving again the next day.

Returning with the zodiac to the port of Porto

The next day, we did the first dive at a different point, Scopa, see divelog post Scopa.

In the afternoon, as the wind situation continues the same, and the club brings people to snorkel, they tell us that we are going back to Ficajola. So we repeat the dive, now with a family without much experience, at the beginning of the dive the woman cannot go down and realizes that she is not carrying the weights. We go back to surface, we wait for her to carry new weights and we go down again. However, we have to spend time going to find the weight belt that had fallen off. We finally found it and now we have to wait again for the guide to return to the ship to drop off the weights,..

After loosing 15min, the dive is very short as the child runs out of air quickly. Overall, it has been a bit disappointing, but sometimes this things happens. Despite this, we see again these beautiful landscapes of stone blocks with posidonia, we pass through a small cave with red coral on the wall and ceiling, some very colorful nudibranchs, quiet brotoles (Phycidae) hidden in rock hollows, moray eels, and an ‘Avalon’, it is like a 10cm shell caterpillar that walks and it seems that they  are very tasty in the pot!

Characteristic rock with human head shape

Lobster peeking out, surrounded by green codium algae and below a sea ball (sometimes mistaken for a sponge because of its consistency)

Rock brótola (Phycidae fish), common in crevices and caves

White slug fish

Ávalon

After the dive we return to Porto (after waiting 30min in the zodiac as the guides are doing a baptism).

In general, very happy to have been able to dive in this reserve, a natural enclave with wonderful landscapes of red cliffs falling into the sea, although we would have liked to be able to visit other dive sites; out of 4 dives, 3 have been in Ficajola and 1 in Scopa, due to weather conditions. 

We leave happy and with a small sample of all the great biodiversity that the waters of the Gulf of Porto harbor.

More information about Porto diving club:

  • Good access by car and free parking near the club.
  • Equipment can be cleaned with fresh water but there are no showers, toilets or changing rooms
  • Link to website
  • We recommend in the area:
    • Visit the Calanques de Piana and the forests southern Gulf of Porto
    • Snorkel in the natural beach of La Gradelle (spend the night in the same campsite) north of the Gulf of Porto
    • Visit the Scandola reserve, by boat or diving!

For more information on other Corsican dive sites, read our DIVING GUIDE IN CORSICA

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