I am a country mouse. I grew up learning to jump in puddles, feed lambs and when chillsome to put on another jumper rather than the heating.
I am, however, a lover of the ocean and the odysseys that span beneath us. I have plunged into the caves and coral formations of reefs from Fiji to Thailand, from Queensland to the Thames. After my unshackled capers had come to an end, I did try to capture the underwater magic in the waters of the city I love. Zero visibility was, on that occasion, probably the greatest gift a diver could get, but I will not be deterred and am updating my little black book one dive at a time.
Korcula, Croatia – Croatia is increasingly emerging as the dark horse of dive destinations – with corals and plentiful fish (wrasses, sea urchins, scorpion fish etc.), along with a 2000-year-old shipwreck. If you plan to dive in Croatia head to the island of Korcula, home to a well reviewed dive school.
Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands – If you fancy a spot of cold water diving and you love shipwrecks, the Scottish Orkney Islands are outstanding. Here you’ll find 120 German ships that sunk in 1919, seven large warships and four destroyers. Unbelievable! Remember to take a dry suit and that visibility is best in December and January.
Madeira – While Madeira may be an autonomous region of Portugal, it is geographically closer to Africa, making it a brilliant place for tropical diving. Often referred to as a “floating garden,” this verdant jewel rises from the Atlantic like a rocky crag and is an ideal place to soak up the sun, enjoy delicious food all afternoon and spend all morning diving. No diver should miss the 300-metre-long Monastery Reef, lying just offshore of Canico.
Whether you crave cold water, dry suit excitement, lush tropical coral or an escape route away from landlubbers, there is a diverse diving location for everyone which doesn’t require a long haul flight.
Edited by Ivy Joseph