|Dive Report: Amalfi Coast Italy, 7-25-18|
Posted by J. Reeb on August 02, 2018 at 05:06:37:|
There are so many wonderful places to dive; Palau, Indonesia, Truk, Galapagos. They all sound incredible and when I discuss these world class destinations with divers who've been there they all seem to deliver on their reputations. I don’t expect to venture to any of these world class locations anytime soon, so I try to dive the locations I that do reach. Every dive spot offers something unique, and that keeps my diving interesting.
A family vacation took me to Europe this summer which included visiting the Amalfi Coast of Italy. I couldn’t possibly offer any new insights on this resort destination, as it's history as a resort for the rich and famous begins with the second Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero who built a palace there in 27AD. Today, it continues to attract the Hollywood elite, and lots of mega-yacht owners.
I dove out of the seaside village of Nerano which is one village west of Positano, if your not familiar with Positano, Italy, no worries, I was not familiar with it either, if you are familiar with Positano's reputation, then no further description is necessary.
I found the outfitter online, they had an attractive website and a desirable location right in the center of the marine sanctuary of Punta Campanella (Diving Sorrento & Amalfi - Resort & Camping). My dive buddy for the “two tank morning dive” was my 21 year old college student son. Cole doesn't dive often, but handles himself well underwater when he does and has become pretty adept at tolerating his old man.
I would describe the dive center as a somewhat typical resort layout; an open air canopy area for setting up gear, next to a small restaurant and general store. Overall a somewhat disorganized business model in operation, (aka; the staff not completely versed on the day's plan). Diving any place new where you don't know the routine tends to raise my anxiety level and the lack of organization was perking mine. Eventually we hooked up with the dive master who checked our Certs, issued us our rental equipment (we brought our own mask, regulator set and computer). The rental gear was well worn but functional, the 3mm wetsuits by Mares had integrated hoods which is a nice feature. I observed that the jacket style BC had no weight pockets in the sleeves and I wondered how that would be addressed. The answer came in the form of separate weight belts issued to each diver.
There were a total of seven clients including us, and the DM made eight. We loaded all the gear into a small pickup truck which hauled the gear down to the backside of the ocean front resort properties. The clients walked to the same location from the dive shop down the main village road and then we schlepped our gear out onto the boat dock by passing through the center of the resort. So here we are, a bunch of semi-wetsuit clad divers carrying dive gear right through the midst of bikini clad vacationers sunning themselves on chase lounges.
The small dock was a beehive of activity. Boats of every shape and size were coming and going from the dock picking up day trippers for their Amalfi coast tours which is one of the mainstays of the local economy. As each boat approached the dock my son and I kept trying to guess which boat was the dive boat, as none of them looked like dive boats.
Eventually one of the locally built tour style boats pulled up and it was announced that this was in fact our boat. We hopped in and our gear was loaded in by the DM and some dock hands who seemed to be responsible for semi-managing the chaos of the dock.
As we set off for Dive One, my pre-dive anxiety began to dissipate; “Ok, I reassured myself, this is going to be OK.”
The first site was along the outer side of a small island just a short ride East from the resort area, the DM gave a basic briefing and we all plopped in by doing a back roll over the side.
Oh the joy of warm, blue water, and I mean blue! We got our bearings, trimmed out and finned a short distance to a magnificent rock arch with an opening perhaps 50’ in diameter. The surface light was streaming down through the surrounding water and lit everything up in the aqua blue glow this region is famous for. The base of the arch had swim throughs and light shafts which enhanced the effect. There were schools of fish, not massive but pleasant and yellowish-orange branch coral dotted the structure.
Past the arch we followed the base of the island around and over a rock garden of car and truck sized boulders to a large cavern that went deeper than my light shaft could penetrate. The opening was perhaps 75’ tall. The walls of the cave were smooth and clean and the floor was white sand. Although this cavern was completely underwater, the entire Amalfi coastline is strewn with sea caves that are open to the surface. We free dove several of these the next day on a private boat tour of the nearby island of Capri. They too were bathed in the blue tinged light, really, really beautiful.
The cavern marked the turn point of the dive and we retraced our route back to the drop off point.
The boat returned to the dock to drop off four of the clients who were only making the first dive. The dock hands brought out fresh tanks for the rest of us and we reset our kits.
For Dive Two it was just one client from Germany, Cole, myself and the DM. I felt for the DM all day, he was a one person show and worked really hard to help everyone don their gear, get equipment on and off the boat, guide the dive and direct the boat skipper.
Dive Two was a pinnacle dive West of the village. The pinnacle broke the surface like a giant tooth and was perhaps a 150’ offshore from the coastline. Two thousand foot high vertical walls jutting into the ocean is one of the features that makes the Amalfi Coast and the nearby island of Capri so dramatic. Once again we back rolled in and the DM led us through a swim through and down to 70’ where we began a series of slowly ascending laps around the pinnacle.
The bottom, when we could see one was probably at 150’, at other points it was just blue forever, schools of fish were hanging out and there were some branch corals, starfish and a locally famous nudibranch that glowed a pastel blue. The highlight of Dive Two was a school of juvenile barracuda, much smaller than their Caribbean cousins which I see all the time in FL.
We finished the dive by returning to the drop off point and the awaiting boat.
Overall Cole and I enjoyed a morning of great diving in a unique and interesting local. I wouldn’t consider Amalfi a destination dive location, but it is one of the most popular and famous vacation destinations in the world, so if your travels take you there I certainly recommend including diving in your visit.
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