It´s fun to once in a while reach your semi tropical island destination in only 3.5 hours instead of droning along for 11 hours or more. This was one of the reasons I chose Cyprus. Another was the wreck of the Zenobia which looked tempting to me similar to maybe Vandenberg and Spiegel Groove in the Florida Keys. I went in September, the month with the warmest water in the Mediterranean, normally around 26 o C. We started from Stuttgart via Vienna with a short stop to enjoy the famous “Apfelstrudel” then continued to Larnaca, Cyprus. Only 20 minutes away from the airport is the Aldiana Club, one of these all inclusive things, which was a first for me. I badly need my private space and imagined not to get this in a club like accommodation. However you find your own space don´t worry. There are a lot of activities offered all day round which you can join, but it´s definitely not a must do. Aldiana is a huge and lovely place in a beautiful setting right on the beach, 95 % of the guests are Germans. There are opportunities for tennis, wellness, kids care, kayak, kite and windsurfing, catamaran sailing, biking and diving. The lunch and dinner buffet are awesome and mouth watering in quality variety and abundance of different dishes. I just couldn´t get enough of the Crème Caramel = Flan. To find gluten free meals was no problem. Right on the first day they served one of my favorites, Sauce Bearnaise, yummy. Wine and soft drinks are free all the time, only special choice is charged extra, so nearly each day I had one or two pina colada, sex on the beach or swimming pool shortly before dinner.
I booked a ten dives package for 283 € in advance bringing my own gear with me. They insist on a check dive off the beach in only 6 m which really is not worth staying there for one hour. The Werner Lau dive center offers only 4 different trips to dive sites.
There is Cap Greko in the east with a lovely coast line of ragged cliffs where you have to hike down with all your gear to reach sea level. It´s a shallow dive down to 12 m with hardly any fish life around. There are some smaller caves. Water temperature was around 27 visibility 40 meters plus.
Another spot is Limasol with 2 smaller wrecks in around 20 m, the Constandis and the Lady Thestis, one a ferry the other a fishing boat. The water was colder here due to tide, wind and current in that region. It´s a fun dive but one time is enough. You can swim inside the wreck and play around a bit.
We visited North Cyprus which is Turkey and dove near Keryneia. Visibility was great here. This is a dive down to 30 m through canyons and around boulders with some fish and medium sized groupers. The Turkish dive center does not offer Nitrox. The trip takes 1.5 hours to reach the northern side. You have to cross the border where you can´t just pass through. Bring your passport or ID, you have to get out of the car and present it to the Turkish customs officer. We did 2 dives in warm water then drove into Keryneia for lunch and sightseeing. K. is one of the oldest towns in Cyprus and lovely around the harbor and the old city.
The Zenobia is a big wreck of 174 m. She capsized in 1980 when her computer gave wrong figures for the water ballast tanks. She lies at the bottom not far from Larnaca harbor on her side in around 40 m. Two huge propellers welcomed me dropping down at around 32 m which are impressive to see. You can swim through the upper structure and bridge. Be careful, she was not “cleaned out” for diving purpose. There are cables, pipes and lose carpet hanging down from the ceiling and bottom. She surely brings a lot of tourist diver money into the country. There are rumors that a Russian millionaire bought the wreck for whichever reason. Sometimes 3 dive boats were anchoring on the site. Looking down it seemed to be one big whirlpool of bubbles rising to the surface. You pass 2 thermoclines on your way down, one from 27 to 24 the next down to 22. I dove with a 5 mil which is sufficient when you don´t stay too long down there. Nitrox is a good idea on the Zenobia, it´s free of charge at the dive center and you get more bottom time swimming all along the wreck. Fish life is good around the whole ship. On the bottom you will find the cargo scattered around which were huge trucks. Cyprus tourist board claims the Zenobia to be among the top ten wrecks of the world. I´m not sure she is going to make that, when you think of all the other famous wrecks like Oriskany, Spiegel Groove, President Coolidge, San Francisco Maru etcetera.
Every trip they offer is a two tank, mostly coming back to the hotel around lunchtime. We started early, 7.30 or 8 and drove to all sites with a 4 wheeler with all your gear in a trailer. At Limasol, Zenobia and North Cyprus you then carry all equipment on a Zodiac or bigger boat to reach the site. They have steel tanks in 8, 10, 12 and 15 liter for you.
I did 6 dives on the Zenobia, went 2 times to North Cyprus and Limasol. Check the surcharge for these trips before you book your dives! For Zenobia they charge 31, for North Cyprus 44, for Liamsol 39 extra plus 19 % VAT. So for the 16 dives with my own gear I paid 780 € which for me feels a bit steep compared to other European destinations. I feel they rip you off the hard way, cause they know you are here to see it all.
The dive staff around George, with Mike, Kris, Angel, Jaco, Vroni is a group of very nice guys working well together. They give you a solid briefing, are safety aware, show you all the places worth visiting, recognize experienced divers and keep them on a long leash.
I would not call Cyprus a world class dive destination. Mostly it´s fun diving in warm water, very relaxed, no strong currents or washing machine like conditions etc. So I guess I might come back this time with girlfriend for another 12 days of getting pampered all day round, which she loves.www.wernerlau.com www.aldiana.de