Have you ever dreamed of diving into the blue of the Mediterranean, exploring shallow reefs, shipwrecks and even a couple of Christ statues? Look no future because Liguria is a top diving destination in Italy, along with being a top food and wine destination. We have the three best spots to dive along the entire Ligurian Riviera.
Liguria, the thin slice of Northwestern Italy wedged between the Maritime Alps and the Mediterranean, is any sea lover’s dream. It has 350 kilometres of coastline, stretching like a half moon from the border of France to the top of Tuscany. The glistening blue of the sea washes onto rocky shores that are backdropped with vividly coloured homes carved out of the mountainside. However, stunning it is on land, Liguria is an underwater marvel. With a large portion of the coastline protected as various marine life areas, it is one of the best places to scuba dive in Italy and witness the beauty of the Mediterranean below the surface.
Keep reading for our top three diving locations along the entire coast of Liguria. The best part? We didn’t forget the wine, of course! No matter which location you choose, you can relax the post-dive with a custom Grand Wine Tour at any of our wineries in Liguria.
Starting in the West, close to the border with France, this small tortoise-shaped island is a great beginner diving spot with a lot to see. It is located short 1.5 kilometres off the coast of Albenga, in the Province of Savona, La Gallinara is actually named for a flock of shipwrecked chickens that turned wild.
The island is designated a Riserva Naturale Regionale (Regional Nature Reserve) and boasts a very long history. In fact, while it is forbidden to dive to it, there is a famed shipwreck of an ancient Roman wine cargo ship that sunk in the first-century AD laying on the seafloor in the small canal between the island and the mainland. Fishermen were the first to discover the wreck when they brought up terracotta amphorae in their nets. More than 1000 amphorae have been recovered and are now on display at the Roman Naval Museum in Albenga.
While you can only snorkel over the wreck, there is another oddity you can dive down to. A sunken statue of Christ from the 1990s is a great spot to interact with typical Mediterranean Sea life, such as branzino and bright yellow anemone. All dives must be led by certified guides to ensure the conservation of the sea floor and the shipwreck.
Isola di Bergeggi
Moving further East along the coast you will eventually bump into the town of Bergeggi before you reach Savona. And just like in Albenga, there is a small island a few kilometres from shore that packs an underwater punch for scuba divers. The Isola di Bergeggi, and the water surrounding it have been an area marina protetta (protected marine area) since 1985. Which basically means that the reefs and seafloor are full of life and colour.
The island itself is equally interesting above land as it is below, where the ruins of a 4th-century church and 9th-century monastery are visible amongst the flora and fauna of the famed Macchia Mediterranea (Maqui shrubland). Like many religious sites around the world, mysticism and mythology run abound in the histories of these ruins, making their histories quite mysterious.
Diving and Wine-ing on the Riviera Ponente
Both islands are in an area of Liguria called the Riviera Ponente, where adventure, wine and great beaches await you no matter what cove you decide to stay. It is also where Poggio dei Gorlei makes their French-style Pigato and Vermentino wines. The winery also is a resort, with beautiful rooms overlooking the sea, making it the ideal place to enjoy the Mediterranean both above and below water!
The Grand Wine Tour is a mark of excellence in hospitality distinguishing Italian wineries throughout the country. Book your tasting and tour today!
Portofino Marine Park
Did you know that Portofino, yes that one, was also one of the top diving locations in all of the Mediterranean? The famed cliff-side town is part of a larger National Park that was created in 1935 to protect the entirety of the promontory. Basically, the entire peninsula from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino is protected areas of precious Mediterranean flora and fauna.
This protection does not end at the shore though. In 1999, the water lapping onto the rocks of the promontory was established as a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance, a Mediterranean-wide UN protocol that was designed to preserve the unique ecosystems of the sea. Nowadays, these extended protections have created one of the best places to experience the Mediterranean underwater.
There are six major sites you can dive to, four of which are wrecks that require more advanced dive certifications. The other two are Christ of the Abyss, a sunken bronze statue of Christ that is one of the most famous in the world, and the Portofino Marine Park which has 20 different unique dive routes geared for beginners to explore the outstanding sea life.
Adventure below, luxury above
Portofino is already a well-known spot for Italian elegance. From villa spotting to fine dining, this little outcrop of land is a mecca of luxury. That is why a day trip to Cantina Lunae is a must! This stunning winery about an hour to the south, past the Cinque Terre, in Luni is the best place to sip on their multiple award-winning Vermentino Riserva Etichetta Nera, considered one of the best Vermentino labels in Italy. Catina Lunae is a member of The Grand Wine Tour Association, meaning you can relax with a glass paired with local culinary treasures after a day of diving with an exclusive tour and tasting, a driver from Portofino included!