The archipelago of Madeira, with its volcanic origins, is a scuba diving sanctuary in the Atlantic Ocean. Its crystal-clear waters and the abundance of marine life create a fantastic backdrop for both beginner and experienced divers. Madeira’s underwater world is full of unique topographical features, including caves, tunnels, and overhangs that house a diverse array of marine life.
Best Scuba Diving Spots for Experienced Divers
Garajau Nature Reserve: This is one of the top spots for experienced divers. The reserve is a protected area where fishing is prohibited, allowing marine life to thrive. Divers here can encounter large pelagic fish, such as groupers, barracudas, and even manta rays during certain seasons.
The Bowbelle Wreck (Bowbelle/Madeirense): For wreck diving enthusiasts, the Bowbelle Wreck, also known as the Madeirense, lies at around 30 meters deep and is a haven for advanced divers. Sunk intentionally off the coast of Caniço, this wreck has become a vibrant artificial reef.
Best Scuba Diving Spots for Beginners
Machico Bay: Offering several diving spots with easy access and gentle conditions, Machico Bay is ideal for beginners. Diving schools use this area for training dives and first-time experiences, with lots of small fish and interesting rock formations to explore.
Porto Santo Island: The waters around Porto Santo are known for their exceptional clarity and sandy bottoms, making it an excellent location for those new to diving. The island also boasts several accessible shipwrecks in shallow waters, perfect for novices looking to experience wreck diving.
Madeira is home to a diverse range of marine species. Its waters are teeming with life, from nudibranchs to monk seals, and its location as an island makes it a meeting point for different marine ecosystems. You can expect to see colorful coral formations, moray eels, octopus, and during certain times of the year, larger marine mammals such as dolphins and whales.
The diving conditions in Madeira are excellent year-round, with water temperatures ranging from 18°C (64°F) in the winter to 24°C (75°F) in the summer. Visibility is generally very good, often exceeding 30 meters (98 feet). The climate of Madeira ensures that diving is not only limited to the summer months, making it a great year-round destination.
Diving costs in Madeira are comparable to other European dive destinations. A single boat dive with equipment rental can cost between €50 to €70. For those looking to get certified, PADI Open Water courses typically range from €350 to €450. Many dive shops offer packages that include multiple dives, which can reduce the overall cost per dive.