Above and Below the World

DIVING AT PORTO BAY II

Porto Bay: Scopa dive site

As in the previous day, we get up early, have breakfast and around 8:30 a.m. we go down to the diving club in Porto. Before 9 am we are there, we park and we go for our equipment and prepare for the first dive of the day!

This time we change the dive site, great! The day before, due to the strong wind, we could only go to Ficajola site doing the 2 dives of the day there. See Ficajola dive log

Scopa’s point is located north of the Gulf of Porto, just before reaching the Gulf of Girolata. The landscape between reddish cliffs is simply breathtaking.

Cliffs of the natural reserve of the Gulf of Porto, reaching the Scopa dive point

Cliffs of the natural reserve of the Gulf of Porto, reaching the Scopa dive point

We are 4 plus the guide. At first a girl has trouble to compensate and the guide goes up to look for her. Finally we get down and we are advancing all together through the rock bottom with posidonia and the cliffs of about 30m high, entering towards the bottom of the sea, it is jsut beautiful.

During the tour we see groupers, anemones with fluttering little fish, salps, sargus, groupers, moray eels, some lobsters, a phycidae hidden in a dark hole, … in general a lot of life and activity.

Curious moray eel in a hole in the rock

Group of diplodus vulgaris

Group of salpas eating seaweed off the rocks

We go up looking between the cracks in the rock wall until we reach some shallow stones, about 2/3 m from the surface, very cool! Having to go over it we put our buoyancy to the test 😊

This landscape in contrast to the rock bottom is so beautiful, with so much light, even the salps shine with their yellow colors. After this section we go back down a bit to continue diving a little deeper and we finish the dive by returning to the boat.

Shallow area of the dive

Salps close-up, they continue eating seaweed 🙂

In general, a dive with many contrasts and different environments with a lot of life, we liked it a lot!

Returning to Porto, overlooking the cliffs of the Gulf of Porto

Around 12:00 pm we return to the club, we leave the equipment dripping and we go to eat our sandwiches, next to the port with views of the bay.

We rest for a while and at 2:00 p.m. we return to the club for the 2nd dive of the day, which will be in Ficajola as in the previous day, due to the wind conditions see dive log Ficajola.

In the club we photograph the dive sites of the Gulf of Porto area:

Dive sites in the Gulf of Porto reserve, from Capo Rosso to Scandola

Dive sites in the Gulf of Porto reserve, from Capo Rosso to Scandola

In general, very happy 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, we leave happy and with a small sample of all the great biodiversity that this waters awaits for us!

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

DIVING AT PORTO BAY I

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

DIVING AT LAVEZZI ISLANDS

DIVING AT LAVEZZI ISLANDS: GROTES DE VECCU

We get up early to go to Bonifaccio to dive in the Lavezzi Islands which are said to be one of the most beautiful places to dive in France, we are very excited!

We arrived at Bonifacio Plongee diving club, which is located in the center of town without the possibility of free parking nearby, so we park for a moment at the gas station, we leave the equipment at the club and go to park. Further up the road, past a campsite, we find a free mini parking lot where you can leave your car (in the early hours of the morning there was only one other car parked) and it takes approximately 8 minutes walk from the diving center (see detail below).

Bonifaccio Plongee diving club

Location and indications of the small free parking that we find up on the road

We park and go back to the club, change ourselves, prepare the equipment and bottles and leave them in a cart that the club itself takes to the ship and we walk to the port.

It’s very windy, but they still decide to go out. The captain Emilie of our zodiac goes very very fast and the trip to Lavezzi Islands, of about 40 minutes, is long and heavy with this swell and the constant boats having to hold ourserlves very tight to not fly away.

Finally we reach the dive point, located to the lee of the island.

Lavezzi Islands

Islas Lavezzi, just before diving starts

Diving without currents in a small area of ​​rocks with caves and holes in the rocks, the anchor is at a depth of about 7 meters and the base of the blocks are at about 16m.

Quiet immersion, we see groupers, scorpora fish and all the typical ones we can find here. As in the previous days, we see a lot of posidonea on the rock bottom.

Grouper facing up

Scorpora fish at the bottom

The most interesting thing about this dive is to go under the ‘holes’ in the rocks and see the roofs upholstered with yellow and orange anemones.

Ceilings in caves upholstered of anemones

We go around the anchor and after 45 minutes we go up. Once up, they tell us that the next dive is canceled since the wind conditions have worsened and we have to go back now.

And indeed, the return in the zodiac is even worse than the outward journey; The wind has risen and the captain is going very fast, constantly crashing and breaking against the waves with the bad luck that already arriving at port, in one of the waves Edu hits his knee against a metal bar located in front of him (the bottle clamp) and it hurts him a bit.

What a bad luck! The next day we had to dive here too but due to the strong wind it will not be possible,.. so we will need to come back another time!

At the club we take photos of the dive sites around Bonifaccio and Lavezzi Islands:

Diving sites at Lavezzi Islands

Diving sites nearby Bonifaccio area

More information about Bonifaccio Plongee diving club:

  • Club twinned with Kallister club (at Palombaggia beach)
  • There is no place to park your car for free (either you park outside the town or in a paid car park in the center of Bonifaccio)
  • The equipment can be cleaned with fresh water and has an open shower to wash off the salt. No changing rooms
  • Link to website
  • We recommend in the area:
    • Visit the beautiful city of Bonifaccio, known for its white cliffs.
    • Beaches in the natural surroundings, where you can walk and snorkel.

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

DIVING AT CERBICALE ISLANDS II

SECOND DIVE OF THE DAY AT VACCA ISLAND

After resting a little on the boat and having a hot drink, we went to the second dive point, from Vacca island towards the coast, W. We set anchor and down!

We are the same group as in the previous dive and as in the first one, we enjoy a rich seagrass bottom with a lot of visibility.

Rocky bottom landscape with posidonia

We also see many groupers, umbrina cirrosa type of fish, scorpora fish that camouflage in with the environment, a bank of very beautiful amberjacks that got very close, ..

Grouper in the rocky bottom

umbrina cirrosa fish in the bottom holes

scorpora fish camouflaged in the rocky bottom

As in the previous dive, we also enjoy a lot the macro life; we see many nudibranchs, a small crab in an anemone … In general we also have a very nice and fun dive.

Cool crab in an anemone

Worm Protula tubularia type (it forms long calcareous tubes attached to the rock and plumes of white and reddish colors at the other end), beautiful!

nudibranch type of flabellina

Very happy, we return to Palombaggia beach where each one takes their equipment and bottles from the ship to the club. We clean the equipment and go to eat while it gets a bit dryer.

We must say that despite the fact that we only dived one day in this reserve and in 1 islet of the 6, we found it a really interesting place to discover and worth to stop here to dive for one or several days (if we have them) during our holidays in Corsica.

More information about Kallister club:

  • Club twinned with the Bonifaccio Plongeé club
  • Good access by car (parking behind the beach)
  • 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 beautiful Palombaggia beach (and other natural beaches nearby) where you can practice snorkeling and paddle surfing (Kallister club also rents boards)

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

DIVING AT CERBICALE ISLANDS I

First dive of the day: VACCA Island

Located on the beach of Palombaggia, a beautiful natural beach south of Porto Vechio that we highly recommend visiting, we arrived at the Kallister club at 7:30 am (it is a wooden hut on the beach).

Sarif, a very nice young man, attends us. We get ready and around 8/8:15 a.m. we take the two 12L aluminum bottles and transport them to the boat as well as the equipment (here each one has to transport their equipment and bottles from the club to the boat) and we go to the Cervical Islands. During the trip Sarif gives us the brifing for the immersion of the ‘vacca’ in English for us, as he does not speak Spanish and we do not speak French.

Palombaggia beach

Preparing the equipment at Kallister club, at Palombaggia beach

We have a very calm dive, we see a lot of posidonia on the rock bottom. In this area there is plenty of macro life, flabellina type of nudibranchs and many ‘vaquitas’ (‘cows’).

Castanet and Nudibranch flabellina type

Nudibranch flabellina type

Nudibranch ‘cow’ or vaquita type

We also see many groupers, dentex, salps, bream, and other fishes and some nacras although dead (it is not surprising, since the mortality of the nacras in the Mediterranean sea is now very high).

Grouper looking curious

Dead Nacra

It has been an entertaining and pleasant dive, being a group of 4 + the guide, Sarif who takes care of us very well.

We go up to the surface and rest on the boat having a hot drink and some cookies that they offer us, and soon we will go to the second dive point, for the second dive of the day!

More information about Kallister club:

  • Club twinned with Bonifaccio Plongeé club
  • Good access by car (parking behind the beach)
  • Equipment can be cleaned with fresh water but there are no showers or changing rooms
  • Link to Website
  • We recommend in the area:
    • Visit the beautiful Palombaggia beach (and other natural beaches nearby) where you can practice snorkeling and paddle surfing (Kallister club also rents boards)

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

error: Content is protected !!