Diving in Madeira’s Paradise

Clearer than water

Madeira Island is one of the most searched paradises by divers from all over the world. Or at least those who have been lucky enough to visit the waters from the main island or at Porto Santo, which Jacques- Yves Cousteau classified as the clearest he had ever dived in. There are several spots where you will find out why…

A comfortable water temperature for most of the year, a great diversity of spots, all with a great variety and abundance of marine species, and excellent visibility down to at least 40 meters deep. This is the scenario that awaits anyone who decides to dive in Madeira…

On the main island, you can visit the Garajau natural reserve, in the southeast to observe barracudas, giant anemones, rays and the huge dusky groupers who have realized that divers are not a threat and therefore allow them to approach.

A little farther east, not far from the coast and from an 18th-century fortification built to defend the island from piracy, the Reis Magos area allows for Seahorse (Hippocampus) observation, among other species. Rising north on the eastern end of the island, Caniçal is known for the geological formations of the Atlantic floor and the black corals that found a calm habitat here.

About 35 miles northeast of Madeira, the island of Porto Santo is a diving destination to visit, especially because of wreckage such as the battleship ‘Corveta General Pereira d’Eça’ and former cargo-ferry “Madeirense”, which today form two reefs that are home to many underwater species, situated about 30 meters deep.

12 miles southeast of Madeira, the Desertas Islands are made up of very rugged land, but much quieter in the deep. That is the opinion of a sea wolf – Atlantic seal colony that has found the ideal habitat here to develop. In Baixa da Agulha you will find crystal clear waters between 3 and 60 meters, with small caves and large marine species. The Desertas are classified as biogenetic reserves by the Council of Europe and visits and diving to the islands require a permit from the Natural Park.

If we continue south on parallel 30, about 150 miles from Madeira and a little less from the African coast, we find Selvagens, named by the Portuguese navigator Diogo Gomes de Sintra in 1438. Some geologists admit that Selvagens where the first islands to form about 29 million years ago, among all those that are part of Madeira region nowadays.

The temperature of the water remains comfortable all year, but what diving lovers will not forget is the visibility of this water. We’re not just saying it. It was Jacques-Yves Cousteau who claimed that these were the clearest waters he had dived into all over the world. In other words, the ideal conditions to enjoy the red gorgonians and the caves inhabited by great conger eels.  As a natural reserve, diving is subject to a special permit to be obtained in advance.


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