Posts Tagged ‘dive sites’

My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 3: The Zenobia, Cyprus (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

In this article, guest blogger Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler concludes her list of top 3 dives in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Missed the previous articles? Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.


Dive Site: Zenobia Wreck

Location: Larnaca, Cyprus
Description: Wreck
Length: 174 meters
Depth: 18 – 42 meters

The Zenobia wreck is one of the top wreck dives on the planet, originally a roll on-roll off (RO-RO) ferry, not unlike the ferries that service the Dover-Calais route between the UK and France.

She sank in 42 meters of water in Larnaca, Cyprus on her maiden voyage in June, 1980 after departing from Malmo, Sweden.  Her final destination was Tartous, Syria but she never made it; after just a short while at sea her captain noticed severe steering problems. Investigations showed that the ballast tanks on the port side were filling with water, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

The Zenobia actually made it into Larnaca Marina, but the risk of not being able to repair the problem in time and having a huge ferry trapped in a relatively small harbor was too great. She was moved out to sea, and went down to her final resting place 1.5km off the coast on 7th June at 2.30am.

Although the loss of property was huge (estimated at 20 million pounds for the ship itself plus the 200 million pounds of cargo on board) the revenue that this metal giant provides through scuba diving is estimated at over 25 million Euros per year to the tourist industry. This shows you just how great she is – almost all certified divers will visit her at least once… and many return year after year to explore another section of her.

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Why is she my favorite dive of all time?

The answer is simple. The sheer size of the Zenobia takes your breath away. She is over 174 meters long from bow to stern. It takes two long dives to cover just the outside of it in any detail.  Lying on her port side the shallowest part is in 18 meters of water and goes all the way down to 42 meters. Wow!

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The 24 meters of width become the divers’ paradise. With 4 cargo decks and the promise that no salvage has taken place, this wreck would take over 100 dives to see everything. She was carrying 104 18-wheeler trucks when she went down (and one blue car – the captain’s little blue Lada) which were all shackled in place.

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The diver can see each lorry and then look at what each was carrying; one of my favorite features is the spilled cargo of eggs which still lies at 42 meters in the sand. It is strange to see a 30-year-old egg still intact.  In fact, there are even places that have still not been entered by a human in that length of time – and that is exciting stuff for the experienced diver, trust me!

But, there really is something for everyone. Every level of diver, from new divers to the most advanced technical diver, has something to explore. PADI Open Water Divers can dive to a maximum of 18 meters, and so the Zenobia is even accessible to entry-level enthusiasts – this is very unusual for a wreck dive like this.

So there you have it. My top 3 dive sites within the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. It was hard to narrow my favorite dive sites to just three, because there are so many fabulous sites to choose from! Some other favorites of mine include:

  • Thistlegorm wreck, Egypt
  • Dunraven Wreck , Egypt
  • Canyon, Dahab, Egypt
  • The Caves, Cyprus

I could go on forever, but this blog must have limits! I hope you have enjoyed reading it. What are some of your favorites? I would love to hear from you!


Alexandra DimitriouAlexandra Dimitriou-Engeler is a PADI Dive Center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner of Scuba Monkey Ltd and is writing a series of guest blogs for PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The post My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 3: The Zenobia, Cyprus (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler) appeared first on PADIProsEurope.

My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 2: Ari Atoll, Maldives (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

In this article, guest blogger Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler continues her run-down of her top 3 dives in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Missed Part 1? Read it here.


Dive Site: Ari Atoll

Location: Maldives
Description: Trench
Depth: 0 – 30 meters

I was lucky enough to celebrate my 30th birthday on a liveaboard in the Maldives. Four dives a day, in a location that is all about diving, was a dream come true. If I had to choose one dive that has stuck with me however, it has to be the whale shark encounter that I had in the Gaafu Atolls.

Strong currents are something that I am not used to (I come from a Mediterranean environment which is notorious for its calm, clear waters) and this trip was my first use of a reef hook. The current was particularly strong on this dive; my brother and I made a quick, negative entry and headed straight down to 20 meters – as we had been briefed to do beforehand. The plankton-rich waters were teeming with life, the cleaning stations were prominent and the dive group was experienced. This meant that the conditions were perfect for a very close encounter indeed.

The maldives are world-renowned for crystal clear waters and stunning marine life

Our dive guide must have been psychic. No sooner than the 10 of us making the dive had tucked ourselves away, a whale shark with an adolescent pup came into view. She was enormous. She was gentle and glorious. She was here for a cleaning and my brother and I were just meters away. I could have reached out and touched her if I had wanted to (I didn’t of course).

After 10 minutes the other divers started getting fidgety, but I didn’t want to move. I looked at my brother and could see that he had no intention of moving either. I signaled to the dive guide that we would stay, and that we would end the dive when either of us became lower on air with the safety of my DSMB, and that they should continue their dive. They signaled “OK”, released their hooks, and were a distant spec within minutes.

We stayed there for almost an hour. The whale shark was cleaned and we watched every second of it.

Whale sharks are regular visitors to the Maldivian atolls

This dive stays with me forever. I felt like I was on a conveyor belt of wonder, that my brother and I were the last two humans on earth and we had front row seats to all the action. I have seen whale sharks before, but this was the dive of a lifetime…. and that’s why it has made my top 3!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, watch this space for Part 3!


Alexandra DimitriouAlexandra Dimitriou-Engeler is a PADI Dive Center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner of Scuba Monkey Ltd and is writing a series of guest blogs for PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The post My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 2: Ari Atoll, Maldives (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler) appeared first on PADIProsEurope.

My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 1: Million Hope Wreck (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler)

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

“So what’s your favorite dive site?” asked a freshly scuba addicted student yesterday.
“Ummm… That’s a really hard question!” I’d replied.
He looked puzzled, “Why?”

Why indeed. I am a PADI Instructor, as are many of you. I am sure you get asked about your favorite dive site all of the time too – don’t you? What is your answer? How do you choose? How is it possible to remember every amazing experience underwater and then pick only one? It is almost always impossible. Diving is incredible in so many ways. You can enjoy a wreck dive as much as a wildlife dive, but we love them each for very different reasons.

So I thought I would write about my top 3 dive sites in this three-part blog series. Surely I can narrow it down to 3!

Dive Site 1: Million Hope Wreck

Location: Nabq Sharm El Sheikh
Description: Wreck
Length: 130 meters
Depth: 0-30 meters

Million Hope

This wreck has it all. It’s huge, it’s in shallow water, it’s covered in coral and teeming with life. This wreck is rarely dived due to its proximity to the shore line, and notoriously choppy waters make it hard to get there. However, if you are lucky enough to dive it you will be in for a real treat. It took me three trips to Egypt and many attempts by RIB before we had the right conditions to dive the Million Hope Wreck!

Why I love it…

Some of the ship is still visible above the surface but the majority is underwater. The shallow depth makes this wreck one of the most colourful and vibrant wrecks that I have ever seen. The traffic of fish was thick and the nudibranch were out in force. Beautiful.

It’s a big wreck! It is possible to get round it in one dive, although the use of nitrox to extend bottom time will make it a lot easier. This wreck sank in 1996 whilst heading for Cyprus. It was carrying fertilizer high in phosphates; the cargo had to be removed following an algae bloom, but there is still lots to see. The cranes that lie on the bottom create overhangs and there is even a Caterpillar crane at 22 meters; a bizarre addition to the dive that’s covered in colourful soft corals. The rotten seat and flooded controls are contrasted by the many scorpion, lion and glassfish that have made their home there.

Million Hope Wreck

White broccoli coral hangs from the ship’s stern but unfortunately the prop and rudder have been removed, leaving a void that the coral struggles to fill. It is one of the places on this ship that makes you feel very, very small! The hull is covered by enormous fire sponges and pajama slugs, as well as there being numerous starfish and pipefish clinging to it. There is a rotary telephone and a toilet seat in the sand surrounded by raspberry coral. There are penetration points everywhere; crew quarters, illuminated by various portholes; a work room complete with spanners on wall hooks, and where a piece of cloth still tied around an old radiator reminds us that this was a working ship.

You can also see the two boilers and twin six-cylinder engines before going up to make your safety stop. My “safety stop” lasted for more than 15 minutes! It was so beautiful between 3 and 5 meters that I could have stayed there forever.  The Million hope is a photographer’s dream – so full of natural light. The contrast of this huge rusty beast next to the multi-colored coral is one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen.

Million Hope Wreck

If you’ve enjoyed this article, watch this space for Part 2 next week!


Alexandra DimitriouAlexandra Dimitriou-Engeler is a PADI Dive Center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner of Scuba Monkey Ltd and is writing a series of guest blogs for PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The post My Top 3 EMEA Dives – Part 1: Million Hope Wreck (Guest blog by Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler) appeared first on PADIProsEurope.

Top Dive Sites in North and South America

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

There are so many terrific dive sites around the world, how do you choose where to go diving next? Whether you want to explore ship wrecks, meet freshwater creatures, or wonder at gorgeous coral formations, there are plenty of dive sites for you to choose from. Based on the number […]

Dives with a Difference Contest: The Winners

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Congratulations to the recent winners of our Dives with a Difference contest! For Dives with a Difference, we asked divers to send us pictures or videos of dive sites which are out of the normal scuba box – the places we don’t always dive every day, locations that need specialist […]