Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Feature: Marine Sanctuaries Around The World - By An­to­nio Busiello

Italy is well-known world­wide for the Re­nais­sance, the arts, food, the Pope, its life­style and many other things. How­ever, not many peo­ple know that div­ing in Italy is as beau­ti­ful as the rest of its at­trac­tions. Con­sid­ered one of Eu­rope’s most beau­ti­ful tourist des­ti­na­tions, Sar­dinia ranks as the sec­ond largest is­land in the Mediter­ranean Sea, and has over 1,700 kilo­me­tres of gor­geous coast­line to dis­cover. TAVOLARA-PUNTA CODA CAVALLO MA­RINE PRO­TECTED AREA Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo MPA is lo­cated in the north­east, south of the world-fa­mous Costa Smer­alda. Only au­tho­rised div­ing op­er­a­tions, such as Blu In­finito Div­ing Cen­ter, can op­er­ate in this area.

PAPA BANKS – Papa Bank 1 and Papa Bank 2 are di­vided by a sand chan­nel on the east side of the small is­land of Tavolara. Huge schools of Mediter­ranean chromis and or­nate wrasse cover the huge gor­gonian fans found all over both banks. Big groupers, snap­pers and jacks swim around them look­ing for food. It is also pos­si­ble to see big yel­low­tail, mob­u­las and Mediter­ranean mo­ray eels com­ing up from the Tavolara walls adorned with yel­low clus­ter anemones. AR­CHI­PEL­AGO DI LA MADDALENA NA­TIONAL PARK This na­tional park in­cludes many little is­lands be­tween Sar­dinia and Cor­sica. The ma­rine park has over 30 div­ing spots ac­ces­si­ble only by au­tho­rised div­ing cen­tres such as Blue Dive Cen­ter.

LAVEZZI – For decades, Lavezzi has been known in the Mediter­ranean as “The Grouper City”. Huge, friendly groupers abound, de­mand­ing at­ten­tion from divers.

This div­ing spot, 25 to 30 me­tres deep, is lo­cated a few miles north of the ar­chi­pel­ago in the Boc­che di Boni­fa­cio Na­tional Park and at­tracts divers from all over Eu­rope.

CAPO CAC­CIA-ISOLA PIANA MA­RINE RE­SERVE Within this ma­rine re­serve lies the most im­por­tant un­der­ground cave sys­tem in Italy, Capo Cac­cia. Of­fer­ing some of the big­gest un­der­wa­ter caves in Eu­rope, the stun­ning karst sys­tem goes in­side the is­land and of­fers sev­eral amaz­ing div­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at dif­fer­ent depths. One of the best op­tions for div­ing here is Capo Galera Div­ing Cen­ter.

FALCO’S CAVE – Con­sid­ered one of the most im­por­tant caves in the area, Falco’s cave walls and arches are fully cov­ered with beau­ti­ful red co­ral. Snap­pers and groupers swim by the en­trance of the cave, which leads to an un­der­ground cave where divers can walk around ad­mire the walls, arches, sta­lac­tites and sta­lag­mites.

TOP LEFT A macro shot taken at Tavolara

Lavezzi is one of the most pop­u­lar dive sites in the Mediter­ranean

A diver emerges from Falco’s Cave BOT­TOM LEFT

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