Both Europe and Asia are magnificent continents that boast equally splendid coastlines and underwater sites. Asia, however, trumps Europe as the continent that has the longest series of coastlines and is a diver’s dream. Not that you’d complain at Europe’s offering, however. Underwater sites such as the Pavlopetri, in Greece, and Thingvellir National Park, in Iceland, are a joy to explore and you make the journey out to Europe to venture into them. In this post, we discuss some of the most unique underwater sites in both Asia and Europe.
Did you know that the area of the ocean is more than all the continents combined? That’s the story on the National Geographic website, so it means that Asia and Europe both spoil you with underwater treasures to visit. Although the internet has helped to make travel much cheaper, you still have to save hard to experience the world’s wonders. After all that sacrifice, which sites are worth spending your dollars on?
The Philippines is well known for its spectacular diving offering. All those islands can’t be wrong! Palawan and other popular diving sites will delight you with the wide variety of marine life you’ll see when you venture into its waters.
If you like sharks, you’ll see plenty. Grey reef sharks, whale sharks and white-tip sharks are a common sight. On a good day, you might even see a hammerhead or a tiger shark. Meanwhile, angelfish, puffer fish, parrotfish and a host of others will nonchalantly swim by, unaware of just how captivating their colours are as you look on.
Ang Thong Marine Park is as close to perfection as you’ll ever get. This unspoiled archipelago out in the Gulf of Thailand boasts 42 islands. Waterfalls, hidden coves, white-sand beaches, thick jungle and tall limestone mountains are all part of the offering, so if you’re on a backpacker’s tour of Thailand, this is definitely an area to explore. Note, however, that it’s only possible to enter the park in government-approved tourist boats, so be careful not to take any silly risks in your desperation to visit.
The park found fame in the Alex Garland novel “The Beach”, of which a hit movie starring Leonard DiCaprio was later made. Filming took place on Ko Phi Phi Leh, but one of the best sites for diving in the park is Koh Wao, a welcoming site to all levels of divers. In the western corner of the bay, you’ll find swim-throughs and overhangs. In terms of wildlife, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll encounter banded sea snakes and blue-spotted stingrays.
Transferring to Europe now, if you head out to Vatika Bay, in south-eastern Peloponnese, Greece, just below the surface of the water on the beach next to it, you’ll make an amazing discovery: the remains of Pavlopetri. Amazing because these remains belong to the oldest submerged city in the world, which dates back to the Bronze Age and was occupied from the third millennium until 1100 BC.
Visit this fascinating underwater site and you’ll see that traces of thresholds, courtyards, streets and even burial places still remain. You can view here for the best yacht charters to discover more of what Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean region have to offer.
Just an hour and thirty minutes south-east of Genoa, the fishing village of Portofino, on the mesmerising Italian Riviera, rewards you with a marvellous snorkelling site to explore. On a tour of Portofino Marine Park, you can view submerged cliffs and the impressive Christ of the Abyss underwater statue.
“Just why is that statue underwater?”, you ask. It’s a fair question, to which the answer is that this bronze statue is thought to represent Christ in the new world below the waves. The statue is a memorial for everyone who has lost their life at sea and a monument to those who have continued to dive beneath it. Sculptor and soldier Guido Galletti is the man behind the statue and took his inspiration from a concept by diver Diulio Marcante.
What would it be like to dive between two continents? If you visit Iceland, you can find out by visiting the Silfra Fissure, which is located in Thingvellir National Park and has become a popular diving site. This huge crack divides the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and is where the two continents meet. Earthquakes that accompanied the divergent movement of the two plates helped to form the fissure in 1789.
The water in the Silfra Fissure is thought to be the purest in the world and is filtered through porous underground lava for 30 to 100 years before it hits the spring that feeds into the fissure. By the time it reaches the northern end of Thingvellir lake, it’s extremely pure and can offer visibility of further than 100 metres underwater in Silfra. The scenes this visibility creates feel like something from another world.
Statues and submerged cities. Colourful marine life. Otherworldly scenes. A meeting point between two continents. Anyone who goes diving here will feel truly blessed to have visited some of the most unique underwater diving sites Asia and Europe have to offer. If ever you get the chance to, don’t pass it up. You’ll be glad you came.
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