The Algarve’s long coastline of almost 200km is the perfect place to try scuba diving. An amazing and calm sea that allows for dives almost all year round, soothing beaches and a variety of underwater attractions such as a rich marine biodiversity, sunk ships from the 18th century to the Second World War and natural reefs contribute to make this a unique region for scuba diving. Adding to all this there is a fantastic weather with over 300 days of sunshine per year, stunning cliffs and breath-taking underground caves.
What is the best time of the year to go scuba diving?
Summer – During summer, weather in the Algarve is at its best. Temperatures are high and the sea is a bit warmer. Because summer represents the busiest time of the year for the Algarve with hordes of tourists visiting the region during July and August, prices tend to go up, meaning that you are likely to pay more for the scuba diving course, gear or boat drive than you would in other times of the year.
Winter – In winter the sea is at its worse, with big waves that make it hard for boats to get out of the bay. The more agitated sea also means that underwater the visibility conditions will be reduced, making it harder to see the beautiful spectacle that is the region’s deep waters.
Autumn/Spring – Autumn and spring are the best seasons of the year to go scuba diving in the Algarve. The sea is often calm and safe, allowing for an easy boat ride to the dive spots, and with good visibility conditions to explore the marvellous seas of the Algarve. The weather is neither too cold nor too hot and because it isn’t high season for tourism yet, you can expect moderate and fair prices for hotels, restaurants and scuba diving shops.
Scuba diving courses
If you have never tried scuba diving before, you should definitely consider taking a scuba diving course. Not only is this a dangerous sport, which if done wrongly can lead to severe injuries, but a proper instructor will teach you everything you need to know and will help in making you feel comfortable underwater with all the gear. Taking lessons with a certified instructor is also a great way to discover the sea in the Algarve and to figure out what are the best places for diving.
Most places have one day courses that allow you to try the sport and familiarize you with the basic theory and skills of scuba diving. These one-day courses are a great way for you to try your first dive. However, if your goal is to become a certified scuba diver, then you should consider a full scuba diving course.
Please be aware that most courses have a minimum age of 10 years old, and, even if kids are older than 10 years old, there may be some restrictions and special conditions to ensure their safety.
Best places for scuba diving in the Algarve
Ocean Revival Park – This underwater park is an exceptional diving destination. Four vessels, connected by a common history, were deliberately sunk in the same place to create an artificial reef which consists in a paradise for divers from all corners of the world. These four warships, representative of a Navy Fleet, form the largest single artificial reef structure in the world with the ideal conditions for the proliferation of marine life. If you are an experienced scuba diver you will definitely want to visit the Ocean Project Revival.
Sagres – Sagres is one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve. Located on the most western point of the region, it has long marvelled visitors with its clear transparent waters, dreamy beaches with white sand and an overall peaceful that makes you forget that you are still in Europe. Underwater islands of limestones and a rich marine biodiversity make this a must see place.
Lagos – Lagos is famous for its ravishing beaches of steep cliffs and rocky formations that create underground caves worth exploring while diving. Its rocks also form types of reefs which attract dozens of fishes and other sea creatures. Here you will be able to see lobsters, shrimps, anemones, octopuses and gorgonians of various colours.
Portimão/Carvoeiro – The area of Portimão and Cavoeiro exhibits breath-taking secluded beaches that will make you fall in love with this little piece of heaven on earth. It is in this area that lies Praia da Marinha, one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe and one of the 100 most beautiful in the world. The famous caves of Benagil are also placed around the shores of Carvoeiro, creating some of the most exotic scenarios one can dream of when diving.
Albufeira – Clear waters with good visibility, Albufeira is the perfect place to try scuba diving for the first place due to the safe sea and the long tradition of scuba diving schools. The only drawback is its huge popularity which drives prices up during summer and makes it difficult to find a spot in the diving trips of Albufeira.
Faro’s Islands – Faro’s islands perfectly mix the natural reserve of Ria Formosa with the Atlantic Ocean, creating a unique set of conditions that allow marine life to prosper. Sometimes the water can get a bit muddy due to how the ocean and the river meet each other, but when visibility conditions are clear you will be able to see a wonderful spectacle of nature at its best.
Olhão – Initially a fisherman’s village, Olhão is still famous for its fish. If you stand at the harbour of this city you will see the thousands of fish that are brought in every day. This is why diving in Olhão is such a great idea. The many fish species living in its shores are an amazing sight that deserves to be experienced if you get the opportunity to try scuba diving in the Algarve.
Tavira – Tavira’s beauty is unparalleled. Bathed by River Gilão and the sea, Tavira combines in one single place the pleasures of diving in the river and the splendour of diving in the sea. This calm and relaxing city with its clear sandy beaches will relieve you of all your stress.