Winter months conjure up thoughts of cold mornings scraping the frost off the windshield of the car before starting the journey to work! The dive season has not always been kind so it was decided to embark on a dive holiday, the only concession being that it had to be combined with a family holiday!
Combining it with a family holiday meant "Truk Lagoon" was out of the question, it was not an option anyway but we can all dream! It was decided to repeat a holiday we had experienced in the Canary Islands as Tenerife offers water visibility of 25 to 30 metres. The Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream ensures an abundance of marine life, with water temperatures of 20 Celsius in the winter, warm enough for me to leave the dry suit at home returning to my travel Semi-dry suit.
I chose "Island Divers" as the base for my diving, as I had been pleased with the centre before, in order to make sure the diving was guaranteed I booked in advance, as they get busy during the winter months. I could then dive happy knowing the rest of the family were busy topping up their tan on the beach.
We chose apartments close to Puerto Colon, a marina where Island Divers operate have their mobile office. With the holiday beckoning I was looking forward to going, just as much as the family were. The day after we arrived we went down to the marina and book the days I wanted to dive. The plan was that I would dive on the morning and then spend the rest of the day with the family.
The following morning I met Graham and Sonia at the mobile office (see right). Graham and Sonia have run the dive centre for over 19 years and have built up a very good reputation for being a dive centre that really cares for its divers. I had most of my own gear with me, as I preferred my own equipment configuration. I was allotted a cylinder and weights and set about preparing my gear, as I did so I was introduced me to "big" Jim a diver who was also a regular diver with Island Divers. A human chain was formed to pass the equipment down to the large R.I.B. and it was not long before we were leaving the harbour.
We set off for a dive to a Turtle and Ray Feeding Site in a small bay close to Los Cristianos, a small boat was originally sunk at 20 metres in a non-tidal area on a flat sandy seabed deliberately for a small commercial submarine which used to take tourists out to see the marine life. We kitted up eagerly as Graham informed us that as well as the gathering of Eagle and Stingrays that inhabit the wreck there was a resident Turtle that often came to feed when divers came along. This dive turned out to be an absolute must for photographers, I would however echo Grahams sentiment about not hanging onto the turtle.
Being able to swim amongst a large number of rays was inviting and we should all respect the opportunity afforded us. I worked overtime with the camera as the rays glided by to be hand fed. There was a lot of sudden waving as the turtle decided to pay us a visit, the experience of being able to hand feed the turtle was fantastic. The dive time was soon up and I could only hope that I had caught some good shots on the camera, 36 exposures were exposed in no time. Back at the marina the same human chain was formed to return the equipment to the van before we could get out of our suits in the burning temperatures. Everyone then retired to a nearby bar / restaurant, a great place to relax between dives and enjoy some good conversation and company, Puerto Colon also boasts a super beach and many restaurants, bars etc.
Follow On Dives
I had my second dive of the holiday a couple of days later this time on the wreck of the La Condista. Known locally as the Cement wreck. The small coaster was carrying a cargo off cement when it ran aground, before slipping back into the sea almost underneath the lighthouse at Pal Mar? The bows of the wreck can be reached at 8 metres whilst her stern is in pleasing 18 metres. The wreckage is in quite a big piece although it has started to break up over the years the result of natural corrosion and severe weather. A group of Trumpet fish had colonised the wreck making it an interesting dive for divers of all grades.
My next dive was at Paraiso Floral a reef system that includes some wonderful volcanic scenery, as you fin along you encounter a variety of marine life, the Triggerfish seem too gaunt you in playful moves. You are likely to see Black Spiny Urchins throughout many dives in Tenerife and they are best avoided at all costs, they can be quite painful if you accidentally touch them. Drifting along the reef divers are encouraged to look underneath overhanging ledges as many rays use them for refuge. The maximum depth on this dive may only reach 16 metres but this allows divers to cover quite a bit of distance. On our dive we were all placed into buddy pairs whilst all drifting as a group led by Graham who had the unenvied task of dragging the routine SMB for the safety cover boat to follow.
Our next dive was to be Sans Souci a dramatic face that drops away to a small cavern. We entered the cavern to be greeted by plate anemones and cleaner shrimps, it can get quite crowded so Graham ensured our safety by allowing only two at a time. There is a report that some years ago a Nativity scene was placed inside and the photograph to the left shows the xmasrib set up for a complimentary visit, this is the ideal way to experience your first cavern dive. The rest of my dives were done on a series of reefs, we were always greeted by at least two rays, most reefs seemed to be colonised by Rainbow Wrasse, Dentax, and Catalufa.
Las Morenas was a dive scheduled for the day before we were due to leave which sadly meant that to be on the safe side I could go do it . I was reliably informed that the dive is an excellent one as it is host to a large group of Moray Eels, which have become accustomed to divers although the diver is advised exercise great care near them. The customary Rays where present as ever to waiting to greet the diver along with a couple of exquisite cuttlefish, an ideal photographic opportunity, it is however, definitely the Morays that steal the show. Tenerife also boast's a new dive site where turtles and butterfly rays gather, a Marine Reserve with an amazing array. Set up by David Novillo to promote the fauna along the Canarian coastline, it is alleged to be a wonderful diving experience. The reserve has the backing of the University of La Laguna and is closely monitored to protect the eco system, and is destined to evolve if treated with respect.
In the final year of my diving career I went out to Tenerife with some friends and as a strictly diving holiday we opted to stay at "Tagoro Par" a resort in Costa del Silencio arranged by Graham. The private resort was quiet in winter but in many ways that was part of its charm we could dive during the day and return to the peace and quiet of the resort before changing to go out on the evening, that was after the customary check in with the family back home in the cold of the UK.
The resort is conveniently placed just 15 minutes from the airport, and a short distance from Graham and Sonia's own villa / dive centre only a 5 minute walk from the sea. As in previous visits Graham kindly offered to look after our dive equipment and bring it fresh ready to wear the following day, a caring service that placed island Divers a cut above the rest.
Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas were easily reached by taxi or regular buses and car hire is very reasonable, but we were collected from the airport. Costa del Silencio does not have a beach, but it does have a rocky area that is great for swimming and snorkelling.
The dive centre owners Graham and Sonia have ran the centre for nineteen years in a professional yet calming way, we always found them more than approachable and it was for this reason that we chose them as our preferred dive centre on regular basis. Independent divers, were able to complete a range of courses in the warm waters of Tenerife, as Graham clearly explained its got to be a better option than diving in a quarry with more to see as well!
I hadn't realised just how outdated this website was in particular that Island Divers had ceased trading, they were the consummate professionals and as a family we looked forward to seeing the on each trip we made to the island.
© Colin Brittain 1999 - 2022