10 Jul, 2014 @ 12:14
1 min read

Discovering Tarifa below the sea

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THERE’S an underbelly to Tarifa even the surf dudes don’t get to see… that is unless they crash below the waves: one that requires an oxygen tank, mask and flippers to explore.

Below the Atlantic swell lies a mesmerising undersea world teeming with colourful fish that makes terra firma seem a million miles away.

I embarked on my subaquatic adventure with the scuba pros at Yellow Sub, who operate out of Tarifa harbour.

They take people of all experience levels on dives and offer official PADI courses. Clients are struck by two underwater wow factors: the clarity of the water and the infinite variety of fish.

After a thorough land-based briefing on safety, science and equipment with my dive manager, Sabina Agostini, we kitted up and made our way to the boat.

Given that my previous introduction to scuba diving was in a university swimming pool, I too was blown away by the vivid underwater landscape and clear visibility. The sheer number of aquatic species – all sizes and colours of the spectrum – is astounding.

We chugged around Tarifa’s mini island, Isla de las Palomas, investigating every nook and cranny, marvelling at the magnificent orange anemones clinging to the rocks.

Sassy sea cucumbers, evil-looking moray eels with their malevolent mouths agape, fish that camouflage themselves in the sand … even Sir David Attenborough would wax lyrical!

“The diving here is amazing, there is so much to see and the water is so clear,” enthused Sabina, from Switzerland.

At one point we came upon a pair of octopuses entwined in a passionate embrace and, feeling like a third wheel, I edged away.

But from Sabina’s hand signals I soon realised they were fighting over the best hiding place under the rocks. It was fascinating to watch and, as the victor took up residence, the loser powered off to regroup, leaving no surface ripple to tell the world above what had transpired in this deep sea ocean kingdom.

Yellow Sub, run by Italian Enrico Demelas, offers dives to 10 different sites, including two wrecks for those who take the PADI courses. There are dives every day, accompanied by professional and incredibly friendly,instructors.

Whether you’re a rookie or an expert seeking fresh challenges, Yellow Sub shows you a haunting underwater world you’d never imagine existed.

For more information visit www.divingtarifa.com

Iona Napier

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1 Comment

  1. Great article….. Myself and my partner, both in our mid to late 40’s and having previously lived in predominantly landlocked areas of the UK before settling out here, decided to we needed to take up some different hobbies. Being so close to the sea near Conil de la Frontera and just a 45 minute drive up the coast from Tarifa we decided to give SCUBA Diving a go. It’s one of those things that we both always wanted to try, having been brought up watching copious amounts of Jaque Cousteau in our early years. We did research other nearby places to try diving but all the online advice in the area of the Costa de la Luz & Costa del Sol pointed towards Tarifa as being the best place for it. We communicated with a few other Dive companies who operated in our area but the response and got from YellowSub was the most welcoming and professional.

    Their “Discover Scuba” package where you use their equipment and start in shallow waters is a great way to try out the sport before committing further – something I found beneficial, having natural claustrophobic tendencies. We ended up committing further and took our PADI Open Water Courses with them – and now with 60 dives under our belts have never looked back.

    All the staff there Enrico, Alex, Jose, Sabina and previously Carlos our instructor are highly professional Dive Instructors with your safety being their number one concern, on top of that they are all a fun cheery lot to spend time with. Their resident Boat Captain Chiqui, a “Free Diver” himself, capable of diving down to 25 metres plus without any equipment at all ! knows the waters including all the tides and current around the Isle of Tarifa like the back of his hand, so despite the fact you are diving in the Straits of Gibraltar, knowing you have a chap that competent in the boat above you while your down their diving adds a level of confidence and well being.

    As the article says Octopus and Moray Eels are regularly seen as are crab and many different species of fish including Sun Fish and occasional Rays. San Andres wreck is another favourite spot.

    One of the key benefits of diving in this location is the fact that it is a small island, so depending on wind direction you either dive one side of the island or the other – if the Levante (easterly) is blowing you just head around the Island and escape the majority of it entering the water from the boat in calmer conditions. If it’s a Poniente blowing (westerly) you just stay on the eastern side of the island again escaping the choppier conditions.

    On calmer days, of which there are many, the ability to do your first dive on the Western side in the Atlantic and then do a second dive later on on the Eastern side in the Mediterranean is quite a novelty. On the best days you can actually start a dive in the Atlantic and finish it in the Mediterranean, where these waters meet is abundant with marine life.

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