© Greg LECOEUR / CRT Côte d'Azur France

5 BEST SPOTS FOR AN INTRODUCTION TO DIVING ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR

Want to try sub-aqua diving during your holiday on the Côte d’Azur? Great idea, this is an ideal place for an introduction, with a clear blue sea and diving sites that are perfectly suited to beginners. Here is my selection of spots that are both accessible and interesting, so that you can go back with unforgettable memories of your first dive!

1 – THE SEA LION, SAINT-RAPHAËL OR FRÉJUS

These little rocky islands, two fathoms from the fine sandy beach at Saint-Raphaël, are an incredible underwater playground for an introductory dive. Half the diving sites around the Sea Lion are found in water that is fairly shallow (over 40 m) and clear, above a white sandy bed.

If you have the opportunity, your diving instructor may show you one of the seahorses that live there! In addition to an especially beautiful underwater arch, there are also two statues, one of the Virgin Mary and one mermaid, which offer wonderful opportunities to capture underwater memories with a waterproof camera (rentals available). The statues can be accessed by beginners are they are located 10 m down.

2 – CAP ROUX RESERVE, MANDELIEU-LA-NAPOULE

The Cap Roux marine reserve, covering 445 hectares, is located between Saint-Raphaël and Cannes, at the foot of the Esterel mountain range. Its privileged geographical location and its legal status with a “fishing restriction” that prohibits all types of fishing, afford it exceptional underwater flora and fauna. The Cap Roux Reserve houses many groupers, and lucky divers may even see whiptail stingrays.

Navigation is simple as you are swimming around an underwater rocky peak, and there is almost no current. The view from the boat when heading from La Napoule port to Cap Roux is worth admiring in itself, with these incredible red rocks of the Esterel that plunge into the deep blue of the Mediterranean.

3 – THE LERINS ISLANDS, CANNES OR GOLFE-JUAN

Located between Cannes and the Bay of Golfe-Juan, your introduction to diving awaits you in the diving centres in either of these towns.

Under the surface, there is an excellent choice of fairly shallow diving sites where the fields of sea grass give a poetic atmosphere in which the shoals of sea bream with scintillating yellow stripes swim around you. It’s also a perfect location to see ornate wrasse; you’ll recognize them quickly: small, extremely curious and multicoloured!

The Lerins Islands are also the site of the 1st underwater ecomuseum in France! Comprising 6 statues submerged between 3 and 5 m down, the underwater ecomuseum is accessible to beginners. The works of the artist Jason deCaires Taylor are worth the detour!

4 – GRAND BAY, NICE OR VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

Accessible from Nice or directly from Villefranche-sur-Mer, the magnificent Grand Bay dive site offers both a sheltered area near Cap Ferrat, clear and fairly shallow waters, perfect for introductory dives and beginners. The Grand Bay extends over a fish-filled plateau ranging from 2 to 9 m in depth, then dropping off slowly from 20 to 60 m. As far as the eye can see: anthias and violescent sea whip! An exceptional underwater Côte d’Azur landscape!

However, the most amazing part of this site is when the sun shines through the heights of the cliffs above the surface, forming hypnotizing beams of light under the water. With a bit of luck, your instructor may show you an octopus, or the many starfish that populate the seabeds!

5 – THE SWIMMING POOL, MENTON

The name of this dive site off the coast of Cap Martin, between Menton and Monaco, says it all: you’ll find clear waters and a sheltered area here. The diving centre is based in Garavan Port, which means that you’ll enjoy a boat ride in the Bay of Menton with the best view over the emblematic and colourful old town.

Once under the surface, you can enjoy a coralline plateau for an unusual maritime spectacle. Thanks to its stark relief that teems with fish, divers can learn in a drop that descends to 38 m. Finning your way across the valley of sea grass, amidst the shoals of sea bream, the introductory dive will transform into an unforgettable memory, especially if you come across a giant hermit crab!

Diving in the Côte d'Azur
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