Dive site: Rapallo, Italy

Rapallo is a small town in the north of Italy, just south of Genoa on the lovely, hilly Liguria seacoast, and within easy drive of the large cities of Milan and Turin. The Rapallo region is also home to some large scuba manufacturers like Mares and Ocean Reef. It’s situated in a bay that also includes the famous picturesque harbor of Portofino. In this bay, with a few other small towns and villages, you have plenty of choice when it comes to dive centers, with access to over 20 dive sites in the marine protected area of Portofino.

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Summer is the best time to visit, as the dive sites tend to be outside the bay and can be affected by wind, swell and currents if the weather is not good. Access to the sites is generally on RIBs or hard-shell small boats, with journeys of around 20 to 50 minutes. Most of the dive sites are wall dives along the cliff shoreline, with a variety of corals and marine life. You can expect to encounter groupers, sea breams, bogue, moray eels, nudibranchs, octopus, lobsters and small crustaceans. All diver levels, from beginner to tec, are catered for. Highlights include the Christ of the Abyss, an impressive bronze statue 8.5 feet (2.5 m) tall (a copy of which is also diveable in Key Largo, Florida) and for tec divers the wreck “KT,” an anti-submarine hunter sunk in September 1944 and now at a depth of 174 feet (53 m). It was originally a luxury yacht belonging to a French nobleman, Baron Henri de Rothschild.

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Out of the water the area has plenty to offer, including the lovely town of Portofino. The amazing Ligurian food is also worth checking out — our surface-interval lunches in town were always fantastic, just avoid the obvious tourist places and follow the Italian families. Not to be missed are the five small centuries-old villages of the Cinque Terre, inaccessible by cars from the outside and connected only by paths, trains and boats.

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