Cyprus is home to a very old, very fascinating culture; and the birth place of Aphrodite to boot. Situated between Greece, Turkey, the near east and north africa in the Mediterranean, it is well placed for diving. The weather is pleasant year round, the water is cool but not cold, and the locals are fantastic. Of course, the cost can be a bit steep, but if you plan it out and watch for what area you’re in, it can be an affordable adventure. Be prepared for a few oddities though, for example, KEO makes pretty much every beverage you could want to drink, and chocolate cream filled croissants are a delicious if addictive between-dive snacks.
To be completely honest, if you’re looking for fish, turtles, or similar large marine life, Cyprus can leave you a bit disappointed. As the spearfishing capital of europe, Cypriot waters can be a touch on the bare side. If you’re looking for bizarre rock formations, awesome macro photography opportunities and surreal swim throughs, you’ve found a new stop over! Paphos was the location I was diving around, and we visited Sea Tunnels, Church Bay, the wreck of the White Star and Amphora Caves. Previously I said the water there was cool, 17˚C to 19˚C on average, which would normally see me in a 3mm or 2.5mm half suit. This is not advisable in Cyprus, as the rocks are jagged and sharp. A 5mm full suit is the least you want to be in the water with, just to avoid the abrasions of a shore entry in some areas, or scrapes from the swim throughs in other areas. Past that, most of the diving is in the shallow range, tending between 15m and 10m for maximum depth. My dives occurred in early fall and late spring respectively.
Sea Tunnels was the “snorkelling” trip my friends and I went on during my first stint if post tour “decompression” (the army sent us to Cyprus to relax for a few days before sending us back to Canada), because we weren’t technically supposed to be diving. We went out with Abyss Dive Center. Since I was last there, they’ve had a few upgrades, and I’d recommend them even without them. Sea Tunnels is a series of great slabs of stone that have fallen or eroded into swim throughs. A great experience, although not for the claustrophobic at heart. It’s worth mentioning that a light can be handy in some of the longer swim throughs, and to watch out for errant scorpion fish, which have been spotted in the area.
My next cyprian adventure came recently, in late April to be precise. Returning from a second go overseas, I once again found myself “decompressing” in Cyprus before being shipped home. Having rotated out with virtually no one I knew, I decided that underwater was a great place to relax and forget about the desert and scrub of Zhari District, so I immediately signed on for the snorkel trip and the dive trip. I had already exercised my archeological nerd tendencies last “decompression” with visits to ancient ruins and Aphrodite’s Bath. The snorkelling was fun, but only wet my appetite for more. Armed with my SeaLife DC1000, I wanted to really get some good pictures. This time I was going out with a group called CyDive, a nice operation with a good staff and fine taste in snacks between dive (seriously, tiny croissants with a cream chocolate filling… so good)
The wreck of the White Star was a soviet era fishing trawler scuttled off the coast. We never got a straight story on it, but it was never the less an interesting dive. We spotted some colourful wrasse and a very well camouflaged decorator crab, then it was up and over to Amphora Caves. To be continued…