scuba diving portugal
Portugal is one of the most visited countries in Europe. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea offer a wide variety of attractions, topography, and islands to explore. One thing that is not widely known about Portugal is that it is a great diving destination, too.
Portugal has over 850 kilometers of coastline that borders the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, it is a great destination for diving. In particular, the Algarve region enjoys up to 3,000 days of sunshine per year. This means that you have plenty of opportunities available for diving.
Another thing that Portugal is known for is its diversity. The long coastline means that you have access to many dive sites along the coast. Whether you are diving from the mainland or the Atlantic islands, you won’t be disappointed.
With a long maritime history, Portugal is also a great destination for wreck diving enthusiasts. You will find a variety of sunken ships and submarines. If that is not enough, there are several marine preserves and national parks that provide a thriving habitat for a variety of corals and fish life. For the true adventurous divers, Portugal is one of few places that enable you to dive over a live volcano.
Sure, Portugal is home to a variety of attractions well worth visiting. But there are many who come here strictly for diving. This only means that you can enjoy a variety of activities or sights during your stay.
BEST DIVE SITES
The Azores is a hidden gem when it comes to the best diving destinations in the world. Many also dub it as the “last hidden treasure of Europe”. It is home to a spectacular underwater landscape and water rich in nutrients that enable various fish and marine species to thrive. From the colossal blue whale to sea horses, you are likely to encounter them here.
The marine life encounters and the dive conditions in the Azores will depend largely on the season. During winter, there are fewer divers because of the rugged coastline. But the diving is surprisingly vibrant with an abundance of marine life. The monthly of July to October is the peak season in the Azores. This will give you the chance to encounter mantas and blue sharks.
The Madeira archipelago is another notable destination for avid divers. It is known as the Pearl of the Atlantic. Located 90 minutes flying time from Lisbon, it is filled with nature reserves. It also comes with a mild climate all year round with an average water temperature of 18 to 23 degrees Celsius. The average water visibility is at 25 meters deep.
Berlenga Nature Reserve
This dive site is a must-add to your bucket list for diving sites in Portugal. This dive site is known for its excellent visibility that would be great for all levels of divers. This area is home to a variety of fish species like the Ocean Sunfish and Sea Bream. There are also great shipwrecks for diving here.
You might be surprised to know that there are plenty of good dive sites in Lisbon, especially along the coast. Sesimbra is one such dive site located to the south of the city. It is a protected cove that offers year-round diving conditions. Other notable dive sites in Lisbon are Luiz Saldanha Marine Park and Cabo Espichel.
This is one of many wreck dive sites in Portugal. This shipwreck is located in the Algarve region, which sank in the 1980s. This wreck is located in shallow waters so it is not just a great site for diving but also suited for snorkeling. The ship is 30 meters long and 5 meters wide. Since this is a relatively shallow wreck, this serves as the perfect training ground for those new to wreck dives.
This site is named after two large ancient anchors that is the main attraction on this site. Another notable feature of the Two Anchors dive site is the large wall covered between rocks that has become home to conger eels, octopi, and colored crabs. This is a great dive site for all level of divers.
BEST TIME TO DIVE
The best time to dive Portugal will vary according to the specific dive site. Madeira and Azores are suitable for year-round diving but if you want an encounter with whales at Madeira, the best time to go is from May to June. On the other hand, the Azores promises encounters with whales during late summer.
Most of the Algarve and Berlengas dive sites are perfect for summer diving.
COMMON TRAVEL QUESTIONS
Planning your trip to Portugal for diving requires you to obtain as much information as possible. This is how you can ensure that you have the information you need to build the perfect itinerary.
What is the average water temperature in Portugal?
This can fluctuate from season to season but the water temperature ranges from 16 to 23 degrees Celsius. Based on this information, the best time to dive is from April to September (16-21 degrees Celsius range.
What type of marine life can be found in Portugal?
The marine life in Portugal offers a diverse range of marine life such as groupers, morays, dolphins, cuttlefishes, stingrays, nudibranches, soft corals, conger eels, and more.
How many dive sites are there in Portugal?
There are over 100 dive sites in Portugal. They are scattered in the Atlantic coastline, as well as the Atlantic archipelago of Azores and Madeira.
How safe is diving in Portugal?
Portugal diving is relatively safe but make sure that you choose a licensed dive tour operator. You will find many of them on the mainland and in various resorts. It is recommended that you obtain travel insurance for diving, too.
Portugal is located in the Europe continent. And 111th largest country in the world with the total area of 92,090 square km Estimated total population is 10,781,459 and it shares a border with Spain.
Archaic castles, golden beaches, and cobblestone villages are what making Portugal one of the breathtaking scenes one will see. If you want to go hiking, you can go to Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, or dolphin watching at Sado Estuary, and boating and kayaking at Rio Guadiana.
Capital city of Portugal: Lisbon
Best times to visit Portugal: Better visit during March to May and September to October for the hotel rates drop down, the weather is still warm, and the crowd is thin.
How to get to Portugal: Regular directs flights are available in Lisbon, Faro, and Porto from the US and Europe. The only direct and non-stop flight to Lisbon is from New York.
Visa requirements for Portugal: No visa is required for US citizens traveling to Portugal for 90 days. You will need a passport though valid for 6 months upon your planned return.
Currency of Portugal: The currency is Euro.
Official Language of Portugal: The official languages are Portuguese and Miranda do Douro.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal
There are 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal and 21 on their tentative list
- Alto Douro Wine Region
- Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores
- Convent of Christ in Tomar
- Cultural Landscape of Sintra
- Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications
- Historic Centre of Évora
- Historic Centre of Guimarães
- Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar
- Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture
- Monastery of Alcobaça
- Monastery of Batalha
- Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon
- Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde
- University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia
- Laurisilva of Madeira
WHERE TO STAY