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Dive sites

Marathonissi

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Reef
  • Average Depth: 10 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 20 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Open Water Diver

This site is maginificent from above and below the surface of the sea.

The boat moors in a tiny cove, at the back of the famous Marathonissi or “Turtle” Island. Huge cliffs rise above on all sides, topped with dense green undergrowth.

Below the boat is a maginificent limestone reef, covered with sponges and soft corals, and teeming with life. The reef extends all the way to a large rock which can be seen breaking the surface around 100m out to sea.

Entering the crystal clear water, you descend 5m onto the reef. For those lucky enough, this is where the Giant Loggerhead Turtles, for which Zakynthos is famous, are most commonly encountered by divers. Other marine life commonly seen here includes octopus, moray eels, cuttlefish, flying fish, grouper, bream, wrasse and parrotfish.

You swim across the reef, weaving in and out of the intricate maze formed by huge towering rocks, and probably wondering how on earth the dive guide knows where he is going!

As you approach the protruding rock, look towards the surface for schooling tuna and amberjack which often feed on the small fishing shoaling around it. Following down the left side of the rock, the reef turns to a sandy bottom and drops to 18m. Soon you will see a large crack in the rock itself, through which you will swim to the other side. As you do so, look for large grouper and some very large octopus which live around the rock.

Swimming over and around the rock, you make your way back across the reef towards the bay where the boat is anchored.

Octopus Reef

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Reef/Cave
  • Average Depth: 12 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 30 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Open Water Diver

The boat moors in a sheltered bay, near a white sandy beach. Divers enter into 6 to 8m of water. Below them is patches of limestone reef and white sand. You head out to sea to find the top of a reef wall at 12m, sloping away down to 16m. The reef wall is made from protruding limestone. Commonly, grouper and moray eels are seen in and near the holes and cracks in the wall, and shoals of bream swimming around it.

You turn right and follow the base of the wall. Open water divers will stay at 18m, while Advanced divers will follow the wall down, up to 30m deep. You will see the reef is covered with potholes and crevasses – looking inside these you can find not only marine life, but also pieces of ancient amphora pots.

When the first diver in your group reaches 100 bar, it’s time to turn around and ascend back to the top of the reef wall at 12m. Following the top of the wall back, you’ll see on your left a plateau of sand and reef. This area is usually full with octopus hiding is any hole available, so look out for them. Shoals of grey mullet are seen along the top of the reef wall.

When you start to see big boulders appear, you swim left across the plateau to the cliff wall. From here, you will finish the dive by exploring some beautiful shallow caves between 2m and 5m deep and perfect for Open Water divers since most are not overhead and have air above. There are whole networks of tunnels, weaving in and out of the mountain, with stalagmites and stalactites lining some of the chambers.

Marathia

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Reef/Wall
  • Average Depth: 12 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 50 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Open Water Diver

This site is beautiful both above and below the surface. The boat moors in a sheltered bay, which houses a shallow reef sloping from 2m down to 8m. At this point a long, thin rock can be seen from the surface, rising from 8m to 2m below the surface, enclosing and protecting the reef.

Entering from the boat, you descend into 4m and swim across this beautiful shallow reef. Many bream, parrotfish and shoals of mullet can be seen here.

Swimming to left of the thin rock, you find a channel 5m deep that allows you outside of the bay and onto a gently sloping reef wall. You swim straight out and follow this wall downwards. At around 10m, you see some huge boulders around which grouper and bream are often seen and continuing further, the wall begins to get steeper. At 18m, Open Water divers will turn right and follow the reef. Advanced divers continue deeper, up to 30m, where they seen brilliant white patches of sulphurous compounds leeching out from the rocks. Very large groupers of up to 2 metres have been seen on this part of the reef.

Following the wall to the right, sand and sea grass are encountered and ascending back up to 16m brings you to a second reef wall. Again, look out for grouper, octopus and morays hiding in and near holes in the wall. Following this second wall, the base of which is 18m and extends way up to the surface, the seafloor below you is sand at 18m until it suddenly drops away to over 50m. This dropoff is great for peeking over to see large predators like tuna, amberjack and dentex. A little further along the wall at 18m is a small cave, only about 3m deep, but spiny and flatheaded lobster can often been found by looking inside the holes in the walls.

When the first diver in your group reaches 100bar, it’s time to turn around. You go up to 10m and follow the wall back to the shallow reef where the boat is anchored.

Barracuda Reef

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Reef/Wall
  • Average Depth: 12 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 50 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Open Water Diver

This is a reef dive where some of the larger marine life in Zakynthos is often seen. The pinnacle of Barracuda Reef can be seen as a small rock above the surface and surrounding this underwater is the expanse of the reef itself. The site name is given because, when conditions are right, shoals of barracuda can be seen feeding on the smaller fish around the reef.

The boat moors in a small bay and dive begins by entering about 8m of water over a reef of limestone sea grass. Following a rocky wall on one side of the bay, you swim out over a shallow reef and arrive at a wall, the top of which is at around 10m and the bottom begins at 12m and slopes away to around 16m. The wall is made of limestone and large grouper are often seen hiding near the numerous holes and crevasses. Following this wall brings you to the main reef itself, which is a huge protrusion of rock roughly circular in shape.

Following the wall of the main reef in a clockwise direction, you can see octopus and moray eels hiding in holes on the reef and grouper and other reef fish swimming about its walls. Beneath you is a sand or seagrass bottom, where goatfish, bream and mediterranean oysters can be seen. Occasionally giant loggerhead turtles are seen here.

The deepest part of the reef is 18m, so suitable for Open Water divers. For Advanced divers, following the sandy slope at the deepest part of this reef brings you to a second wall which begins at 26m and slopes down to over 50m in places. This is where large predatory fish such as bluefin tuna, amberjack and large grouper are seen.

The shallow parts of the main reef are covered with smaller fish such as wrasse and parrotfish. The dive route continues around the main reef, following up to a depth of around 8m and back to the boat.

Big Blue

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Deep Reef
  • Average Depth: 25 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 55 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Experienced Advanced Open Water Diver

Big Blue is an offshore reef with some fantastic underwater topography and marine life.

The boat drops anchor on the top of the reef which lies some 18m below the surface. Due to fast surface currents, descent is made down the anchor chain.

As you descend down the chain, large pinnacles of rock can be seen protruding up from the deep blue – the local Greeks call this site “kastro” or “the castle” because the pinnacles look like the battlements of a castle.

The dive is made around these pinnacles. The reef is full of marine life, from large and often free swimming moray eels, to schools of tuna hunting around the pinnacles. The pinnacles themselves are covered with reef life and are heaven for the macro-photographer. Large fishing nets which have snagged the pinnacles and been cut loose can be seen in places, now covered with featherduster fan worms and soft corals.

The dive is ended by swimming back to the anchor chain where a safety stop is made before surfacing.

Drop Off

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Wall
  • Average Depth: 12 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 40 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Open Water Diver

This dive follows a cliff wall which extends from the surface.

At the start of the dive, you swim to the wall and descend down to 8m. As you swim along the wall and it begins to slope away, you will notice a cavern about 3 metres deep which often has large grouper outside.

The wall has many cracks and holes which are home to octopus, moray eels and grouper, and many small reef fish swim about the wall. It continues on down to 18m and a sandy bottom at its base.

Following the sand for 20m or so, you come to a sudden precipice which drops to in excess of 40m – the “Drop Off”. Quite often large tuna and dentex (a tuna-like predatory fish), can be seen hunting along this undersea cliff. Following the wall at 18m for Open Water divers and up to 30m for Advanced divers, you’ll see large grouper down near the base of the wall and many small fish along it. When the first diver in your group reaches 100 bar, it’s time to turn around. You ascend up to 10-12m and swim back the way you came to finish with a 5m safety stop, before surfacing.

Little Big Rock

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Wall/Reef
  • Average Depth: 12 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 40 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Open Water Diver

The boat anchors in a beautiful, scenic bay with a white pebble beach. The reef below the boat is 10m deep and made of patches of limestone, spaces with areas of brilliant white sand. The reef itself is full of life such as moray eels and octopus, and flying fish and scorpionfish are commonly seen on this site, resting on the white sand.

After descending onto the reef, you will follow it out to the rocks which give the site its name. They protrude several metres above the surface and up to 14m below the surface. A channel is formed between the rocks and the cliff face.

You will first swim on the outside of the rocks at 14 to 16m, where a sea bream the Greeks call “sargos” is often seen lurking close to the rocks. As soon as they see the first diver, the zoom away to some hiding place inside the rocks. Below the rocks is limestone reef, sandy patches and sea grass. Swimming past the rocks, you will find the cliff wall. Initially it is 16m at the base, but soon slopes deeper and deeper to over 40 metres. Open Water divers will follow the wall at 18m. Advanced divers who descend to 30m will find an old trawler net on the wall which is now home to scores of feather duster fanworms and makes a great photograph.

When the first diver reaches 100bar, its time to turn around and the group ascends to 12m or so and follows the wall back. This time you swim through the channel between the land and rocks and have a good chance of seeing larger group hiding between the boulders on the sea floor, before following the reef back to the boat.

Arc de Triumph / The Arch

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Cavern/Wall/Reef
  • Average Depth: 18 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 70 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Open Water Diver

One of the most popular dive sites in Zakynthos, the site name is due to a huge, natural catherdral-like arch of rock which characterises the site.

You start this dive by entering about 6m of water from the boat, above a limestone reef. Swimming along a wall which is an extension of the cliff above the water, you come to a hole in the bedrock at 8m which drops away to 20m and is the entrance to The Arch.

As you swim down and through the arch, you will notice it is encrusted with sponges and soft corals, and ahead you will see a reef consisting of huge boulders of limestone, covered with soft reef life, starting at around 12m on the right and sloping down to around 40m on the left. At around 40m, the reef turns into a sheer wall which drops to around 70m.

The reef is full of life; from shoals of bream, parrotfish and wrasse swimming around it, the holes between boulders make perfect hiding places for octopus, grouper, moray eels and lobster, and where the sheer wall starts at 40m, large predatory fish such as bluefin tuna and amberjack are often seen. There is also plenty of life for the macro-photographer including fanworms, nudibranchs, and a plethora of other life on the reef.

Open Water divers will follow the reef around at 30m, Advanced divers at up to 30m, in a semi-circle. Eventually you will reach a wall which ascends all the way to the surface in front of you. Following the base of this wall at around 12m, you see a deep crack in the rock face. This is the entrance to a tunnel-like cavern (not an overhead environment – there’s always air above) with 2 exits. Swimming through the crack and into the cavern, you will notice a beautiful dark blue light projected from the other exit. The walls are covered with an amazing array of colour which are soft corals and sponges. Swimming 20m through the cavern brings you out through the other exit at 14m with a wall on your left.

Following this wall brings you back to the base of The Arch, which you swim back up through to finish your dive making a safety stop on 5m on your swim back to the boat.

One of the nicest caves in Zakynthos also lies on this site – The Shrimp Cave. Due to its depth (30m) and overhead nature, this dive is suitable only for advanced divers with at least 50 dives and overhead experience.

The dive begins the same as above, but instead of following the cliff, you swim out to sea. You follow the reef down a slope to the top of a steep wall at 16m which drops to 35m. Swimming along the top of the wall, you come to a deep crack in the wall. Following this crack down to 30m brings you to the entrance of the Shrimp Cave, which looks like a huge crevasse in the side of the wall.

As you swim inside the cave, you will notice the array of beautiful colours of the soft corals and sponges on the walls. In the first few metres of the cave, you may be lucky to see flat-headed or spiny lobsters hiding in holes on the cave wall. As you swim deeper inside the cave you will see first tens, then hundreds, then thousands of translucent shrimps covering the walls and roof of the cave – a truly amazing sight. The cave slopes up slightly as you swim inside and towards the back of the cave, around 20 metres inside, you will see the darting black shapes of catfish which live in the cave as they make the most of your torchlight to hunt their prey – the shrimps!

You turn around and exit the cave, following the wall to the right at a depth of around 25 metres, although the wall drops in places to more than 60 metres. This steep drop-off is a good place to see the big predatory fish such as tuna and amberjack. Following the wall eventually brings you to the base of The Arch where, air supply permitting, you can make the dive as described above.

Two Columns

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Wall
  • Average Depth: 18 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 70 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Experienced Open Water Diver

This site has an impressive wall which plunges in excess of 70m in places into the abyss.

The boat moors next to two huge columns of rock protruding up from the sea. Divers enter the water next to the columns in about 12m of water, on the landward side of them.

You swim across a rocky reef of huge boulders in the channel formed between the columns and the cliff face. Grouper and bream are seen hiding amongst the rocks.

Eventually you pass the second column, and swimming around it brings you out to the wall on top of which the columns perch. It drops away below you out of sight and into the blue. If you are lucky, looking down you will see the silhouettes of large tuna, dentex or amberjacks hunting in the depths. Open Water dives will follow the wall at 18m and Advanced divers at 30m. Shoals of small fish are seen swimming back and forth along the wall and eventually the vertical wall flattens into a gently slope with reef-encrusted limestone boulders. Some very large grouper in excess of 2m live in holes between the rocks and can be seen darting away in the distance.

When the first diver reaches 100 bar, it’s time to turn back. Ascending up the wall to 12m, you follow the wall back to the two columns and surface next to the boat.

Keri Caves

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Cave/Reef/Wall
  • Average Depth: 16 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 30 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Experienced Open Water Diver

This site has some great caves and caverns for Open Water and Advanced Divers alike.

The boat moors beneath huge cliffs which extend over 100 metres above the sea. You enter the water and swim to the wall where the cliff extends below the surface and descend into around 10 metres of water.

You find yourself on a limestone reef with the characteristic big boulders covered with marine flaura and fauna.

Open Water divers will follow this wall out to sea, where it drops away to depths in excess of 40m. You will follow the wall down to a depth of 18m, swimming over the reef which is home to large octopus, grouper, parrotfish and sea bream. On reach 18m, you will swim away from the wall and follow the reef around in a semi-circle along the 18m contour. The reef will then gradually get shallow, taking you back up to a depth of around 10m and you find yourself facing another huge cliff wall, extending up above the surface.

Turning right along this wall takes you into the “Third Cave” – a huge cavern (there is always air above you if you need to surface) which extends 50m inside the mountain, a depth of around 12m. As you swim inside, you see the beautiful colours of soft corals and sponges on the walls of the cave. Moray eels are often seen hiding in rocks on the floor of the cave and many small wrasse and other fish near the walls. On reaching the back of the cave, you turn around and head back out, finishing your dive with a safety stop at 5m on a shallow part of the reef to the left of the cave.

Advanced divers can make a fantastic cave dive here also. Because it’s a deep cave, you will need at least 40 dives to be able to make this dive. Following the same wall as the Open Water divers do above, you follow the wall to a depth of 28 metres. You will see a deep hole in the wall, approximately 2 metres across – this is the entrance to the first of the Keri Caves. Swimming inside, you will see a tunnel leading ahead of you.

The tunnel forks left and right after 5m or so. The right fork enters a deep cave system which extends over a hundred metres inside the mountain and is therefore a cave we consider too technical for recreational divers. However, looking down the tunnel to the right, you can often see dozens of translucent shrimps covering the cave walls and sometimes sleek, black catfish which feed eagerly on the shrimps.

Instead, you follow the guide to the left, through a narrowish tunnel (single file required) into a large cave chamber, which you enter at 26m and slopes upwards to 18m. The walls of the cave are covered with sponges and again there are often plenty of shrimps in here. At 18m, you see daylight flooding in from a deep crack in the wall, through which you will exit the first cave.

You then swim across the reef, from 18m to 10m, often seeing octopus, grouper and other reef life en-route. You then reach the second cliff wall and the entrance to the second cave – the “Bat Cave”. Following a tunnel from 10m up to 5m, you find yourself in a vast chamber inside the mountain.

After making a safety stop inside the cave, the guide will signal you to go up! No, he’s not crazy, you are in a chamber inside the mountain with air above you. The last 2m of water before the surface are suddenly colder and the visibility noticably less. This is because you have reached a freshwater layer on the surface of the sea!

Finally, you reach the surface, and shining you torch around, find yourself in a vast chamber. A crack in the roof, allows in daylight and shining your torch around the cave (from August to October), you will see why the cave gets its name – bats nesting in the cavern begin flying around inside the chamber!

You finish up the dive by descending down to 5m and bobbing out of the cave entrance.

White Reefs

Overview

  • Region: Keri Peninsula
  • Dive Type: Wall
  • Average Depth: 12 metres
  • Maximum Depth: 150 metres
  • Minimum Diver Level: Experienced Open Water Diver

This site has a beautiful cave dive for Advanced divers and a thriving reef for Open Water divers.

The boat moors in a small bay next to the cave entrance which is visible from the surface. Divers enter into 10m of water over limestone boulders.

Advanced divers swim towards the cave entrance, which is 8m deep. The cave is a tunnel about 30 metres long and runs all the way through the protruding headland. As you enter the cave, look in the numerous holes in the wall for spiny lobsters.

As you swim further into the cave and daylight begins to fade, you see the rainbow of colours on the walls from the sponges and soft corals living there. Shining your torch around you will see dozens of transparent shrimps along the walls and roof of the cave, and if you’re lucky you’ll spot one of the sleek black catfish darting around, using your torchlight to find and eat the shrimps. Weaving in and out of huge pillars of limestone, you see daylight pouring in through the exit of the cave, which resembles a huge butterfly and makes for great photography to capture a diver swimming out into the deep blue. The exit is only 3m deep, but you’ll find yourself on a wall 15m deep. Swimming down to the bottom of the wall and out to sea, you are over patches of reef and sea grass. Then in the distance, you’ll see where this dive site gets its name; starting at 16m, huge expanses of brilliant white sand can be seen, literally glowing in the sunlight from above. Sloping gently downwards, the sand continues on to over 150 metres deep! You’ll go up to 30m, before turning left and picking up a reef wall which is an extension of the cliff from the headland you just swam through. Following this wall back around in a semi-circle, you’re likely to see some big grouper hiding near their holes in the wall and maybe some tuna and amberjack hunting out in the blue. Eventually you reach a channel formed between a surfacing rock and the cliff. It’s about 12m deep and look carefully here because there’s usually some big scorpion fish on the floor. You’ll finish the dive by exiting the channel and making a safety stop close to the wall, before surfacing to find yourself back at the boat.

Open water divers swim along the outside of the rock mentioned just above. At 12m deep, you’ll swim over a saddle of rock and into a valley formed by two huge undersea limestone walls. The floor of the valley is covered with limestone boulders encrusted with reef life, and the walls slope gradually downwards and outwards so the valley widens and deepens. In the valley, you can see grouper, moray eels and octopus, with shoals of parrotfish, wrasse and bream swimming just above. You’ll follow the left valley wall along the top at around 12m of depth. On the top of the wall, pinnacles of limestone provide shelter which brings in scores of small fish and so often schools of feeding tuna and barracuda are seen darting in and out of the pinnacles. You’ll follow the wall down to 18m where you’ll cross to the other side and follow the right wall back up to a depth of around 8m. Here, you’ll see another saddle which takes you into the channel between the surfacing rock and cliff wall described above. You’ll follow the channel to its end, where you’ll make a safety stop before surfacing next to the dive boat.