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Spain

...dived Medas Islands

September 2002


Hello, We booked to go diving the Medas Islands, following the fins of our buddies three years earlier. They had told us of the warm water, good viz and very large Groupers. So we used the internet and booked up 10 dive packs.  These islands are off the coast of L'Estartit, northeast Spain into the Mediterranean. (There's a panoramic picture at the bottom of the page)

The Diving : The Region

The Diving

Ian2.jpg (364200 bytes)The Medas Isles are a nature reserve that is strictly monitored by the local police. You cannot take anything but pictures. There are never more than 400 divers on the islands and the dive centre needs a license to take you there. So even though they check your dive qualification card before you get on board, you also need to take it and your compulsory dive insurance certificate on board every time. Just in case the police board the boat and ask to see them. Penalties can be swift and expensive including confiscation of all your diving kit.

Unfortunately for divers the previous week the weather was terrible and they only had one dive the whole week. So we were lucky the weather was improving. It was overcast at the start of the week but warm enough to go without a shirt. Air temperature was 21C. The sun came out midweek and you cold sunbathe by the end of the week. The visibility was around 3m - 10m / 10ft - 33ft which we put down to the previous bad weather.

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We dived along the coast with Xaloc Diving (pronounced Shlok Diving in English) and the Medes Isles with La Sirena. Xaloc had a speedboat/rib. Xaloc collected us from our hotel, we 8 divers kitted up on the quayside before getting into the boat, then out the harbour and turned left for what turned out to be diving similar to the UK - fairly cold at 19C, and low viz of 4m/12ft. The second dive was on the wreck of the Girona. There is also the wreck of the Marmara further out in 42m/130ft which we didn't try ~ Xaloc are the only ones to dive it. It is a very large wreck of 110m/about 350ft in length with a max depth of 33m and a bottom temp of 17C. We quickly discovered our mistake - not all of the dive centres are licensed for the Medas Islands and after three dives with Xaloc Diving they were able to transfer us to La Sirena Diving centre.

La Sirena took us to the Medas Islands for the rest of the week. They are geared up for tourist divers - a large boat (max 25 divers) and a wonderful tail-gate lift to raise you out of the water effortlessly.   A British instructor with La Sirena said the best time to go there is the beginning of September (we went at the end of September!) because the regular tourists are over and not under your feet, the water temperature is still around 23C (we had a cold 19C!) and there are fewer divers per boat so you get more space to kit up (He also mentioned diving a circling shoal of 200 barracudas and seeing a shoal of 100 rays). We saw many large (up to 18inches) stone fish, a sleeping ray (12inch diameter), many reef fish and star fish, blanket sponges and some small reeds. There weren't many anemones or corals. A night diver revealed several octopi, colourful shrimps, crayfish and a moray out shopping.

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Ah, this next picture deserves an explanation. It's not really a bin, it's a horse -
  And this one is for Conor, who couldn't join us this week.... and this would have been his accommodation

 

h The nearest recompression chamber to L'Estartit is in Palamos, 30km/18miles away.

 

The sea bed consists mainly of sand and grainy boulders. The large Groupers our buddies had seen a few years before had gone deeper than the 30m/100ft we dived, so we 'only' saw the 1 metre/3 foot ones, and they were big enough for those of us used to reef fish. 

Ian3.jpg (356183 bytes)The Region

L'Estartit is a large village/small town sized resort and there's very little to do other than sunbathe, eat, drink or dive. You could visit the bowling alley or hire a bicycle/motorbike/scooter (but we were warned to try/test them before paying if we could - or agree to reduced payment if they break down).  A hotel with a pool is definitely useful, providing you have better weather than we did.

Good countryside, friendly people.

j If you're flying, try to land locally, rather than having a 3 hour van drive as we did.

We noticed a golf course and some caravan sites.

   This is a panoramic picture. Move right to see more of the beach at L'Estartit and the Medes Islands 4