Our region is a paradise for snorkeling and an absolute must-go-to place for divers. Having a friend who is a dive instructor, I decided to explore this topic with his help.
A little less than a mile off Albenga town is Gallinara islet, famous for hosting one of the largest colonies of royal seagulls in the Mediterranean sea and rightly protected by regional reserve constraints thanks to an adjacent marine protected area.
Until recently, diving around the islet was forbidden not for its protection, but for the presence of sunken and unexploded World War II devices. Today the area has been reclaimed, thanks to the work of underwater archaeologists who have found many artifacts dating back to the 5th century between the Ligurian and French coasts. If you are interested in archeology, do not miss to visit the naval museum in Albenga where these precious finds are preserved.
Today, in the protected waters of the Gallinara islet, it is possible to dive and the main diving points are two: Punta Falconara and the West tip of the island. Punta Falconara is one of the most interesting dives in Western Liguria because a statue of Christ has been placed a few meters under water in a quiet bay. The statue of Christ the Redeemer is in fact 18 meters under sea level and it was placed there in 1998 around Easter time.
Over time the Statue of Christ with arms outstretched has become a symbol of love for the sea and diving. The difficulty of immersion in the aforementioned site is not high and does not require special precautions, but it is necessary to go with an escort accredited to make dives within the Marine Protected Natural Area.
In these waters there are large fish such as groupers and scorpion fish, octopuses and moray eels.
Photo by my friend Marco with the Christ underwater statue
The westernmost part of the Gallinara Island, the West tip represents a balcony towards the open sea and, If we move from the island of Gallinara to the east, we find in sequence three beautiful wrecks sunk during the two world wars.
The first is the wreck of the Umberto I ship, torpedoed during the Second World War. The dive is recommended only to more experienced divers, both for the depth and for the very strong currents.
More accessible is the wreck of the Sassari ship, sunk during the First World War. I heard that there is not much left of this ship but visibility is almost always good enough and it's worth a visit.
Certainly more spectacular are the remains of the French cargo ship, the Tiflys, also sunk during the First World War. The wreck lies on the seabed in perfect conditions and gives the visiting divers an indefinable feeling of alienation. Unfortunately, even in this case, the depth makes it accessible only to more experienced divers.
The dive is carried out reaching, along a fixed top, a rocky plateau at the bottom of the wall in the ravines where many fish live.
Thanks to the protected habitat around the Gallinara park, there is a rich fauna: scorpion fish, moray eels, prawns, nudibranchs and sometimes the rare moon fishes.
The Canalone is one of the most famous dives around the Bergeggi Island, which is located in the homonymous marine protected area (I wrote a blog about this place). The dive runs along a spur of rock located to the north east of the island that continues underwater.
A point of interest is the wall that descends down which is covered with sea daisies. The fauna is always abundant: scorpion fish, moray eels, anglerfish and, occasionally, some reef sharks.