I dived with 4 outfits in Spain in 1995. My girlfriend and I first dived with an outfit called Tabarca Sub. They're actually based in Santa Pola, which is the town nearest to the island of Tabarca. There's actually a marine reserve around the island, for which you require a permit. They don't have a permit, so they dive right on the edge of the marine park. The guy who runs it is a really nice bloke, but he doesn't really speak a great deal of English. You have to ring him up to book because they just have a lockup near the harbour, so if your Spanish isn't too good, you could have problems.
The diving was on some weed beds made up of some seaweed exclusive to the Med. The maximum depth I've got logged is 13m, so it's not very deep. We saw quite a lot of fish, including some blennies, and we were given some sprats to feed the fish with. The sea temperature was a nice and warm 26 degrees.
We hired all the equipment, which wasn't great and no octopus was provided. I think it cost something like 5000 Pts. If you had your own kit, this would drop quite substantially to about 2500 Pts. The address is:
Avenida de Granada, 11 bajo
Telf/Fax (96) 669 24 28
The second place I went diving was in Torrevieja with an outfit called Tevere. It took two attempts to get out diving, because the first time I turned up, I was told that the big boat was "kaput", and that I should come back tomorrow. Having got up at 9.00am, I was less than amused. They don't go out in the afternoon, because of a wind that comes up off the sea. I would call it more of a light breeze myself, but there you go.
They do go to a wreck site, but it was a bit windy the second time I tried to go diving, so we went to another weed bed. I went on my own, so buddied up with a German guy. I put my equipment together, and it all seemed OK, but what I didn't realise was that, as I closed the cylinder band, the plastic buckle must've snapped, because the next time I picked it up, the cylinder almost fell out. So we had to replace the buckle on the boat. Whilst we were doing this, my German buddy decided to go off on his own. So I had to go down and find him. Fortunately the viz was pretty good (15m), and I found him within a minute. There were some nice rocky overhangs you could swim through and we saw a couple of large shoals of fish (50+). I also saw a couple of sea fans. It was only about 11m. The rental gear didn't have an octopus, or compass, so I had to rely on the German to do the navigation. Well we went up twice so that he could take a bearing back to the boat, and everytime we surfaced the boat seemed further away. When we finally came up I decided it was too far away to swim to, so they had come and get us. This really cheered up the skipper, who's a miserable sod at the best of times.
They've got a shop at the following address:
Telf: (96) 571 65 55
The women in the shop spoke reasonable English. However, all they'll tell you to do is to go down to the Sports Marina in Torrevieja at 9.00am in the morning, where they've got premises. The cost was about 5000 Pts with all equipment.
The third place we went to was in Benidorm with the Poseidon club. They're actually in the phone book, but under 'B' for Buceadores, which means divers. No, I didn't understand it either. We went diving off of the island in the middle of the bay. They're shop is about 50 yards from the beach, and you have to walk across the beach, and then wade out to the boat. It was pretty crowded on the boat, and there was no cover from the August sun. My girlfriend and I were diving with a Spaniard from the shop, who at least had an octopus himself. Our rental gear didn't have one.
The dive site was quite good, as it was a rock wall with some interesting scenery, including some arches. There were plenty of fish including a fairly tame moray and conger both occuping the same hole. My maximum depth for the dive was 26.5m and, below about 20m, the water temperature drops suddenly from 24 degrees to about 17. You certainly need hoods and 5mm wetsuits. The trouble is that you then sweat to death on the boat. Still it was a nice dive, probably the best one we did in Spain, and they go out in the afternoons, as well as the occasional night dive. Their phone number is (96) 585 32 27.
The 4th place we went was in Cabo de Palos. This is in Murcia province and is the cape just below the Mar Menor and La Manga. Most of the diving there is on the Islas Hormigas (Ant Islands), which are a few small islands off the shore. They looked like a submerged set of small mountains. There are apparently a number of wreck sites there, but we did a scenic dive on a sunken hill. My maximum depth was 26m, and there was quite a bit of life about, including an octopus.
The people in the dive centre spoke reasonable English, certainly enough to be able to book the dives, and they went out at 9am and 12am. The rental gear wasn't great, with no octopus and no depth gauge. The filter on the 1st stage was also very rusty. The price was about 5000 Pts with all kit, or about 2500 Pts for just tank and weights. That seems to be the going rate in Spain.
Their address was:
Cabo de Palos
Telf: (968) 14 55 30
In general, I would say diving in Spain is worth doing, though I don't think I'd go there for a diving holiday. The rental gear is pretty bad. You very rarely get an octopus or a depth gauge, so I'd recommend taking your own regulator and computer, if nothing else.
At the time our qualifications were PADI AOW and CMAS 1*, which are widely recognised in Spain. SSI seem to be quite common of there too. You need to have medical insurance that covers you for diving and most places do ask to see it.