Many people are attracted to Portugal for the sunny climate, beautiful beaches and strong waves. Indeed, the country is among the best surf areas and most popular beach destinations in Europe. That is not all Portugal's coast has to offer, however. Offshore there are some great scuba diving sites, featuring some of the best visibility that can be had on Europe's Atlantic shores.
The Berlengas are a small chain of rocky islands sitting several miles out from the beach town of Peniche. The islands constitute the best diving off mainland Portugal, due in large part to visibility that is routinely in the 65-foot range. There are caves, rocks and reefs, but in particular there are a lot of wrecks in those waters. This is so much the case that one area has been designated "the Shipwreck Cemetery." Many are within recreational dive range, but there are a handful of truly deep wrecks that will pose challenges for even veteran technical divers.
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Hotel Praia Norte
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Northern Portugal has some good dive sites, but the standout attraction is the wreck of a World War II German U-Boat. On June 3, 1945, the crew of the U-1277 chose to scuttle their submarine and seek refuge in neutral Portugal rather than surrender themselves and their ship to the Allies. The result was that a submarine free of battle damage settled on the sea floor in the seas off Porto. Sitting in 100 feet of water, the submarine is within reach of experienced recreational divers. Today the U-1277 is a good-looking wreck, with her torpedo tubes and conning tower still unmistakable.
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Portugal's Azores islands are another great scuba diving destination. The best of the islands for a scuba diver to operate from is Pico. Sitting far out to the Atlantic, Pico Island offers the kind of encounters with sea life that only happen deep in the open ocean. It is the kind of place where a scuba diver might encounter a pod of dolphins, manta rays or hammerhead sharks. Most of Pico's rocks and reefs are in the recreational range, but for technical divers there is the Princess Alice Bank. This is the best place in the vicinity to see the really big fish, and the minimum depth for the bank is 115 feet.
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Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.