If someone mentioned the Canary Islands, you’d be forgiven for associating them with package holidays and booze-fuelled shenanigans. It might come as a surprise, then, to learn that scuba diving in Tenerife is kind of a big deal.
Boats in the channel between southwest Tenerife and La Gomera frequently spot bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales, and what lies beneath the surface is no less impressive.
WHICH DIVE SITE?
Two of the best sites for scuba diving in Tenerife lie so close together that you can spend most of your surface interval sunning yourself on a stationary boat.
The Wall is a dive with a maximum depth of around 26 m, and its main attractions are the various species of ray that play on its sandy bottom. Inquisitive in nature, common sting rays, intricately patterned eagle rays and gargantuan Atlantic rays will pass close by if you remain relatively still and avoid startling them with your bubbles.
El Condesito is a wreck dive of around 12 to 18 m. This iron ship sank on Christmas eve in 1975 after crashing into rocks along the coast. It’s unsafe to penetrate, but there’s much to explore in terms of scattered cargo and rusting mechanics. Volcanic basalt columns provide an unusual Giant’s Causeway-like backdrop almost as intriguing as the ship itself, and a good array of fish species, as well as octopus and fire worms, have taken refuge among the wreckage.
The following footage was filmed with a GoPro Hero4 on one visit to each of these dive sites in October 2016.
CHOOSING A DIVE CENTRE
There are dozens of places offering scuba diving in Tenerife, so choosing a dive school can be a tricky business. As always, it’s important to make sure you select one that operates responsibly, services its equipment regularly and is registered with the appropriate regulatory bodies. Once you’ve narrowed it down, TripAdvisor is a great resource to give you a feel for the services you can expect to receive.
BLUE BOTTOM DIVING
One fantastic option is Blue Bottom Diving. Based in Playa de Las Americas – the most populated and tourist-focused part of the island – they have exceptionally well-maintained Mares equipment for rent and purchase; their new aluminium dive boat is built for comfort and safety; and their staff are incredibly friendly.
Detailed dive briefings are provided in either English or Spanish before you leave the dive centre. Once your gear has been collected and checked, they transport everything to a drop off point in the harbour while you take a short stroll to the boat.
On board, there’s plenty of space to move around, prepare your gear and set yourself up for a big stride entry. Between dives, you’re provided with snacks in the form of fruit and cake, as well as waterproof jackets in case you’re a little chilly.
While there’s no bathroom on board the boat (and this is not unusual), you can take a shower and use changing facilities back at the dive shop. While you wait for gear to be washed and log books to be signed, you can grab a hot drink and make use of the outside seating and video sharing facilities.
The Blue Bottom Diving boat is available for private charter (usually on Sundays). They can also provide a professional photographer/videographer on request. As can be seen from the example clip below, they have top of the range equipment.
TENERIFE AS A HAVEN FOR ADVENTURE SPORTS
It would be really easy to spend your entire Tenerife vacation on a lounger at your all-inclusive hotel, but the island has a surprising plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts.
Water sports include scuba, freediving, wind and kite surfing, surfing and stand up paddle boarding, while back on solid ground, the volcanic landscape is ideal for cycling and hiking.
My visit to these dive sites was part of a complimentary weekend trip to Tenerife with Thomas Cook Airlines UK, who aim to show that the Canary Islands have far more to offer than sunshine and night clubs. They fly several times a day to the south of Tenerife from airports throughout the UK, and prices are usually in the range of £60 return.