Diving Ustica

The Protected Marine Area of Ustica has given its key contribution during the years, dividing in three aerial zones the body of water around the island for a distance of three miles from the coast. The seabeds of the island are particular thanks to the marine biodiversity that allow us to see a big quantity of animal and vegetal species.

Kind of dive: wall /cave
Experience: neophyte- intermediate
Maximum depth: 30.00 mt
Average depth: 10.00 mt
Notes: really few current; entrance at board 50/55 min.

You can dive in one of the most beautiful mortise of the island, considered an unmissable dive for photography lovers. This site is characterized by spectacular colors because there are a lot of crevices and passages covered by yellow cluster and orange corals, known as Parazoanthus axinellae and Astroides calycularis.

When we arrive in a mortise, we start to wear the equipment and we start the dive after a short briefing; the slow descent into the water and following the anchor line take us at initial depth of 9 mt, following step by step the bathymetrical line we see the seabed that slopes gently in a succession of Posidonia e big rocks.

Continuing our dive we carry in the blue until the maximum depth of twenty-five meters  where it is possible to meet big amberjacks and big sea breams.

A small canyon leads to some crevices made by a part of the rocky wall above it: there it is possible to observe a beautiful amphitheater and several fragments of amphorae, some of which stratified inside the rock.

Different are the species of nudibranch that we can find as pink Flabellina (Flabellina pedata), leopard slug (Discodoris atromaculata) and pilgrim hervia (Cratena peregrina).

Kind of dive: cave/rock
Experience: advanced
Maximum depth: 18.00mt
Average depth: 15.00mt
Notes: low current, good visibility, duration 50/55 min

Cowries’ cave is a suggestive dive site but ask a good control of the buoyancy: it’s a huge cave with the entrance at 18mt with sandy and then rocky bottom.

Going to the surface, there is a small passage and then an air chamber where it’s possible to breathe without the regulator and to see light-plays from the entrance. Later on there is a dark chamber with brackish water and a small beach made of cowries and other organisms’ fragments.

On the top there are stalactites and the roots of surface plants. Returning back is really beautiful follow the light that came by the large entry, that give spectacular effects.

Going out by the cave, the dive continue following the wall where is simple to find forkbeards, octopuses and little groupers. The large light coming by the entrance make this dive really charming.

Kind of dive: deep
Experience: simple
Maximum depth: 20.00 mt
Average depth: 15.00 mt
Notes: archeological tour

This area, as the time went by, has become a proper underwater museum with itinerary and informational panels: the ships that landed in the island could not always be traced back their anchors so it was decided not to pick up them but to make an underwater museum with the passing of the time.

The seabed is rich of old ship’s anchors that leave it there due to recovery issues.

This dive site is very easy to visit, just curiosity and a regulator are needed.

Archeological tour: in 300 meters long  seabed there are a lot of  archeological finds , between 10 and 20 meters of depth. You can also find Roman amphorae, iron and lead blocks with identification panel .

Kind of dive: rocky pinnacles/ shoal
Experience: advanced
Maximum depth: 50.00mt
Average depth: 20.00mt
Notes: medium intensity current

Secchitello is without any doubt the most demanding dive of Ustica and it’s for expert deep- certificated divers.

This dive is characterized by a lot of pinnacles of different depth, full of red gorgonians that cover their surface. Touring around the pinnacles, between 24 and 50 mt, we can admire schools of amberjacks, barracudas, seabreams, gold and brown groupers.

The Secchitello’s shoal grows up from -50mt of depth and arrive until 25 meters from surface with big rocky pinnacles. Descending at the top of the shoal you arrive on a colorful wall covered by red gorgonians that here made spectaculars “forests”. It will simple the meeting with groupers, big red scorpionfish, morays, or school of barracudas, amberjacks and snappers.

The dive is hard due the strong underwater currents  that is possible to meet at 30-35 meters of depth. If you are lucky, you might see also tropical species here. From the Gibraltar’s strait, an atlantic current arrive at northern island's coats and increase by subtropical species the marine flora and fauna.

In this dive site we will meet a lot of pelagic species: amberjacks, barracudas, sea breams, groupers, snappers; don’t forget schools of damselfish  that surround us and the red gorgonians on the pinnacles.

Arriving at 100 bar, we go back to the anchor line and we start the ascent in the blue. For photo-lovers  leaving the camera in the boat is strictly prohibited.

It is necessary to  visit the black coral, Gerardia savaglia, that is possible to see by distance for its yellow ramifications. On the top of the shoal is possible to meet schools of amberjacks and barracudas.

secchitello web geo

Kind of dive: cave / rocky deep
Experience: deep diver
Maximum depth: 40.00mt
Average depth: 28.00 mt
Notes: torch is necessary, as deep license and proved experience of deep cave dives

Grotta dei gamberi (shrimp’s cave) is the most famous dive site of the island: the huge entry ( at -42mt) leads to a big chamber of sandy bottom that asks an excellent buoyancy.

After the pre-dive check we start our slow but constant descend following the rocky spot on land that brings us to the entrance of the cave : a huge coloured vault on a sandy bottom.

The left wall is full of schools of shrimps, lobsters and congers. A big rock hides for few moments the entrance but, after you surpass it, the light make a spectacular show.

Few forkbeards are hidden through the hollows of the wall of the cave where lives also a big conger that sometime come close at scuba divers. The exit is at -28 mt and conducts to a rocky cliff where usually is possible to meet groupers, salemas and big sea breams.

It’s a unique experience for caves lovers.

Kind of dive: deep rocky wall
Experience: medium Open water/Advanced
Maximum depth: 40.00mt
Average depth: 16.00mt
Notes: middle current, excellent visibility, duration 50/55 min.

The dive site’s name comes from the geography shaped musical instrument and it is in the southern part of the island.

Is a dive along the coast: there is a cliff made of volcanic rocks, formed by the crash of the rocks that was on the surface, and a wall that goes vertically down on a sandy bottom of 35mt. The Posidonia follow the descent of the scuba divers until two solitary big rocks at -40 mt where there are the most beautiful red gorgonians of the island, sea anemones, yellow gorgonians, orange corals, sponges and calcareous algae.

Taking the cameras and going down in this site it’s possible to have different and wonderful meetings: sea anemones, yellow gorgonians, orange corals, sponges, calcareous algae and unique for beauty red gorgonians.

From -7mt to -15mt this dive is a unique place for underwater photography lovers because there are a lot of hollows full of false corals and different kind of other Mediterranean corals.

Kind of dive: landslide/rocks
Experience: all levels
Maximum depth: 28.00mt
Average depth: 8.00mt
Notes: excellent visibility, low current, for every levels of dives

Notes: excellent visibility, low current, for every levels of dives
This dive site is characterized by a particular rocky cliff that starts from the mountain above and goes down in the crystal-clear waters; this one makes a rocky spit on land on the surface that seems like an old roman ship, the Galera.
Thanks to the volcanic origin of the isle, there are two caves and a lot of passages that give exciting light-plays.
It’s a real natural swimming pool, a dive site suitable for every kind and level of dives, and is particularly indicated for introductory dives or for the first certificated dives thanks to two easily accessible mortise.

The dive goes through an irregular seabed, rocks and fissures and is really fitted for underwater photography. It is possible to find Posidonia, octopuses, anthias, salemas, saddled seabreams, sea breams, groupers, amberjacks, barracudas and morays.

Kind of dive: cave/rock
Experience: Advance/deep
Maximum depth: 40.00mt
Average depth: 18.00 mt
Deep certification and proved experience in deep caves dives

This dive site is just for advanced certified divers: a series of caves and passages leads to around 15 mt deep until 45 meters down. The access at these areas is difficult due to the presence of big rocks, but when the canyon is overpassed , it’s possible to arrive to breathtaking landscapes thanks also to the crystal sea water and to the great visibility.

The shortage of marine fauna is balanced by the beauty of the ambient, in fact at 45 meters deep there is the entry of a cave, in which there are shrimps and forkbeards, that bring us back to the zone through a chimney.
Another choice, but longer, is to continue the dive through another tunnel that arrives to another cave, more extensive and impressive, with the ceiling full of Mediterranean slipper lobsters, shrimps and forkbeards; inside the cave there are usually 2 or 3 really big groupers.

Kind of dive: cave
Experience: neophyte- intermediate
Maximum depth: 18.00 mt
Average depth: 7.00 mt
Notes: no current

“Grotta della Pastizza” is one of the most charming dives of Ustica, and it’s also located near  the harbor; it’s a cave with the entry above the surface that make possible the entrance just with mask and fins. The dive site is named like this for the rock visible above the water that locals called “Pastizza” that means “pasty”.

We jump in a plateau deep no more than 8 mt, full of mortise that give repairs to small morays and groupers,  and take us to a vertical cliff characterized by the richness of colors.

The Pastizza’s cave is actually a communicant system of caves: in the first part two air-chambers meet each other on the sea level, in the first chamber is possible to admire the vault of the cave and the statue of the saint patron of the island, Saint Bartolicchio.

The seabed is made of lava rock , full of crevices that made the dive site advisable for cave lovers. Going outside by the cave the dive continues following the wall where is easy to find forkbeards, octopuses, groupers and colored sponges.

Kind of dive: current reef cave rocky deep
Experience: Open water/ advanced
Maximum depth: 40.00 mt
Average depth: 30.00 mt
probable current;  duration 50/55 min.

This dive site is considered one of the most spectacular of Mediterranean sea; its name comes from a dialectical adaptation from the original “Scoglio Omerico” that means Omeric Rock.

The site shows a rock visible above the water at a few tens of meters to the total reserved marine zone, where it’s possible to have many different dives, all characterized by crystal-clear waters and by the huge quantity of fish.

The richness of Mediterranean coral reef make this dive site as one of the most beautiful of all the Mediterranean sea.

Its crystal-clear waters  hide one of the richest and variegated seabeds that give a extraordinary presence of fish and an incredibly indented ambient where a series of wonderful passages bring  us at a canyon that goes vertically down until -30mt from surface. Unforgettable are the light-plays that characterize the first part of the dive and give later space to a big quantity of amberjacks and barracudas that swim in the blue; sea breams, salemas and brown meagres are with the scuba divers for the full tour of the rock.

If you want to change dive tour it’s possible to make the “closed” one ; at -18 mt deep we find the entry of a cave called “the whale” that goes across the rock and bring us until -26mt after ten minutes of navigation.

This dive is available for every type of scuba diver, from more expert one to Open Water just certified, because there are infinite possibilities of choose the dive tours.

scoglio medico web

Kind of dive: wall/cave/ mixed dive
Experience: all levels
Profondità massima: 35.00 mt
Average depth: 24:00 mt
Notes: low current,  duration 50/55 min.

Punta Falconiera is situated in the eastern part of the island, at a short distance to the harbor; is characterized by a rocky wall with bright colors that gives a wonderful spectacular effect.

Sailing along a colorful cliff, we can find shrimps and calcareous sponges on the sandy bottom.  The dive site is really full of marine flora and fauna: in this waters there is the endemic shrimp of Ustica, the Parapandalus, and also forkbeards, octopuses and groupers.

Kind of dive: wreck in current  wall rock deep
Experience: Open Water/Advanced
Maximum depth: 35.00 mt
Average depth: 20.00 mt
Notes: current is possible

For sure is one of the most beautiful dives of the island and of the entire Mediterranean sea. The tour its until 40 mt down.

We start at the top of the shoal at 3 mt, but after few meters we arrive at the drop-off , after which are left speechless in front of a vertical wall of columnar basaltic that goes until 30 mt on the first plateau.

Later we arrive at the upper part of plateau, the blue in front of us is wonderful, and there we see the benthic fish, seabreams and snappers.

ITA motorship is a tourist destination for the wrecks, with Panamanian flag, that shipped a marble load, held in 21 February  2005 in the northern part of the island, close to the Secca della Colombara.

Between majestic and peaceful brown grouper, it’s possible to come across shoals of barracudas; the damselfishes, the saddled seabreams and the goldline fish follows us during all the dive e frame at the wonderful landscape  of the shoal.

colombara web geo

Kynd of dive: rock pinnacles
Experience: Deep / Tech
Average/Maximum depth: 42/60 mt.
Flora and Fauna: gorgonia, Paramuricea, Geraria, Laminaria.

It is a dry with the top at 40 meters, a dive for the more experienced levels that require a Deep or Tech patent. The dry extends up to a depth of up to 60 meters, penetrating the wonderful Laminarie, gorgonian, Paramuricea and Geraria.

Tipo immersione: grotta
Livello: Deep Diver / Tecnico
Profondità media/max: 27/50 mt
Flora e Fauna: gamberetti, granchi, cernie, musdee e ricci melone.
Note: per esperti, necessaria bombola decompressiva iperossigenata.

La Grotta dei Cirri è così chiamata per l’abbondante presenza di alcuni piccoli detti  “cirri” all’interno della camera della grotta.

Questo punto d’immersione si trova sul versante est di Punta Spalmatore e la nostra immersione avrà inizio proprio sotto il nostro gommone, ad una profondità iniziale di circa 10 metri.

Sott’acqua seguiremo la parete che degrada lentamente, per iniziare la penetrazione di un “buco” che dai 27 metri ci porta giù in verticale all’interno di questa fantastica grotta dei cirri, a circa 41 metri di profondità, dove i giochi di luce sono a dir poco spettacolari (ambiente molto interessante) .

La grotta si presenta con un fondale sabbioso, costellato da enormi massi, dove crostacei come gamberetti rossi (Plesionika narval) e granchi facchini (Dromia personata), musdee (Phycis phycis), e i ricci melone (Echinus melo) trovano riparo.

Percorrendo tutta la camera della grotta raggiungiamo la nostra massima profondità, circa 50 metri, con una permanenza massima di 15 minuti, e dopo iniziamo la risalita seguendo una parete dove le cernie (Epinephelus marginatus) sono particolarmente frequenti.

Sicuramente un’immersione per subacquei esperti, con bombola decompressiva iperossigenata al seguito.

Type of dive: rock / dry pinnacles
Experience: Tech
Average/Maximum depth: 40/60 mt.
Flora and Fauna: gorgonian, false coral, barracuda, saraghi, salpe, amberjack, dentex, grouper and dotti, scorpion fish, castagnole, alcioni and gorgon stars.
Notes: medium intensity currents

The most challenging dive of the whole island looks like a dry one with more hats: from 50/60 m deep, a series of pinnacles stand out towards the surface touching the 25 m of depth. A fantastic diving spot, reserved for the most experienced.

Each of the spiers has different morphology and extends to the bottom merging at the base with the other nearby spiers, creating breathtaking scenery, with vertical walls, valleys and reliefs, colonized by different life with both benthic and pelagic species.

The fauna of Secchitello offers a multitude of brown and red algae in the highest portions, with the seasonal presence of sargassis, which give way to red gorgonians or Paramuricea clavata and several ramifications of false black coral or Savalia savaglia.

In the pelagic environment, the show is unique, with barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) and duct (Mycteroperca rubra) and with the constant presence of families of big amberjack (Seriola dumerilii). Occasionally we also see good-sized snappers, fairly confident, while banded sea bream and salpe are constant and always pleasant presences.

Needless to say that black castagnole (Chromis chromis) and pink castagnole (Anthias anthias) make the atmosphere heavenly, with their swarms that seem to slip on the peaks of the imposing lava pinnacles. A diving spot definitely rich in fish and unusual shows.

Observing the surface of the rocks close up, among the gorgonians, many smaller fish and sly red scorpions (Scorpaena scrofa). Boutonniere then several alcyonarian parasites (Alcyonium acaule), difficult to detect, and the splendid gorgon stars, Astrospartus mediterraneus, an extraordinary beauty ofiure!

secchitello web geo

Type of dive: wreck in current deep rock wall
Experience: Tech
Average/Maximum depth: 40/60 mt.
Flora and Fauna: dentex, tanute, castagnole, boghe, occhiate, saraghi, salpe, sponges, madrepore and alcionari.
Notes: possible current

Along with Secchitello, the Colombara dry is the top of the dried Ustica, an incredible Eden to be experienced, with clear water and lots of fish. The point of immersion starts from the hat of the dry, only three meters deep, where the lava rock is very jagged and is populated by an incredible variety of green and brown algae.

In short, with a few fins, we move towards the edge of the dry, where the rock creates walls that degrade with landslides of boulders or even vertical, according to points, towards depth of about 25/30 m.

A wide plateau 30 m deep, at the base of the vertical walls of the Colombara, has scattered rocks colored by beautiful sponges and offers incredible views of shoals of fish, and not just barracuda: here dentex (Dentex dentex) and tanute (Spondyliosoma cantharus) almost never fail, in addition to banded sea breams and salpins. Needless to say, groupers are seen everywhere, at all depths and in all the dry areas.

Castagnole (Chromis chromnis), boghe (Boops boops) and glances (Oblada melanura), numerous, complete a picture to say the least rich and to be visited calmly in more than a dip. In a precise area of ​​the lava cliff of this dry then lies the wreck of a ship, which remained blocked on 21 February 2005.

The wreck of the ITA motorship, with the Panemese flag, is now spread in several pieces and creates a further living substrate, with unique colors that decorate the iron thanks to a series of encrusting invertebrates, including sponges, madrepore and alcionari.

colombara web geo

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