Divers Paradise, Exploring Octopus reef and Turtle Island

After riding through Greece I am on the Greek island of Zakynthos and have explored it by foot, motorcycle and horse. Though I had yet to explore it underwater so I looked for scuba dive centers on google.  I couldn’t take my scuba equipment on this trip as I needed to pack light in order to ride the motorcycle. Which made me carefully choose what I would bring and organize equipment by priority. A first stage and second stage regulator alone would take up to much space in my rucksack by itself. Not to mention lead weights for the weight belt and BC (buoyancy compensator).

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Diver’s Paradise

I ended up seeing a Dive Flag off the beach by one of the restaurants called “Driftwood” and boy was I relieved! As I made my way to the restaurant I found out the dive shop was closed from the bartender. Then he talked to a female waitress in Greek and told me to wait there. She walked over to a table in the restaurant and a man with a white and gray beard approached me. His name is Fanis and he told me he could get me on the 2pm dive the next day and provide all the gear. I immediately said yes and left to enjoy the rest of the night.

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My Yamaha 660cc parked while I go SCUBA diving

The next day I headed over to the dive center full of excitement. I met the staff at the dive center and found out just like the town of Laganas not everyone is Greek. I first met Pablo at the front desk who took all of my information after I filled out my diving background paperwork and experience. Pablo being originally from Alcoy, Spain is a PADI certified Divemaster and knows his way around Zakinthos island quite well. If I had a question he either answered or he found the answer and got back to me. The other crew member that was going to be diving with us was Yanni who is Greek. Yanni drove the boat as well as providing me with information about the islands and regulations in the area.

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Map for clarification

From Laganas beach to Turtle island also known as Marathonissi is Laganas bay which is where there is a regulation from the government. This was a Ministerial rule which created two zones:

  • Zone A which requires all boats to stay below 6 knots in the bay
  • Zone B which protected the Loggerhead turtle nesting grounds and banned the entry of all boats

The most amazing thing I learned about Turtle island is while most beaches within the Bay of Laganas mainly produce female hatchlings. The small beach on Turtle Island produces mainly male sea turtles. This is caused by lower temperature range of the beach sand on Turtle island. The sex of sea turtle hatchlings is determined by the average temperature of the eggs during incubation. If the temperature is above 29 degrees Celsius, the hatchlings will be females. While if the temperature is below 29 degrees Celsius, they will be male.

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East of Laganas Beach is where zone A is located directly under the mountain

Now that I got my Turtle facts out of my system, did I mention I like Turtles? Anyways, I got to the Dive shop at 1:30pm about an hour before the dive. While I was in the briefing room Lean one of the staff offered me a cookie as well as some water and I eagerly accepted. After she gave me the Cookies and water I thanked her by saying “Sas Efharisto para poloi”. She gave me a funny look and I realized she didn’t speak greek. After a brief conversation, I found out Lean is actually from the Netherlands. I would have never guessed she was from the Netherlands as I had not expected such a diverse staff much less a diverse population in a Greek town. The only other staff I met was Nerea who is also from Spain and a certified Dive master. Nerea and Lean helped me get fins, goggles, and a wetsuit in my size. They also reassured me I would need a full suit as I was hesitant to wear one but quickly changed my mind after reaching the cold currents during the dive.

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Loading up the boat for an adventure

Before we left Pablo not only provided information about the dive site but also helped me figured out my dive tables from feet to meters by asking around the shop. Afterward, I strapped my BC to my tank and hooked up my first and second stage regulator to the SCUBA tank. I confirmed with Pablo the air pressure was at approx. 1000 psi. We then set up my weight belt as I only know my weight in pounds not kilograms. If you’re wondering what the weight belt is used for its to compensate or counterbalance the force of buoyancy. You want to carry about 10 percent of your body weight in lead which will go in your weight belt. This includes calculating for your Scuba tank, your BCs (not inflated), lungs, fat cells and wetsuits. Once everyone arrived we loaded up the boat, got out SCUBA gear and headed south.

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Smooth sailing throughout the day

As we got out of zone A, we picked up speed and continued south to Octopus reef. There was a nice sheltered bay we came to which we dropped anchor and staged our dive. What you couldn’t see was the reef wall below which is actually the nesting area of the Octopuses! The wall starts from the sheltered bay, and ends over a Drop-Off, that goes down to negative 50m! I was hoping to see some lobster but has no such luck. My Gopro in hand I looked around hole after hole. At the beginning of the dive, I had a small problem being used to my lead bean bag weight belt.  As the lead bar belt was moving I had to adjust it, mid-dive. Then I after struggling to stay buoyant I realized I had slightly to much kilograms. I inflated my BC and experimented until I was able to glide without using my arms. The rest of the dive was kosher from the beginning of the wall to the drop.

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One small problem is that I forgot my red filter lens in my dirt bike. You need a red macro filter for pictures and videos underwater. The deeper you dive the more the red spectrum is filtered from the ambient light. That is why when you go SCUBA diving to depths of 100 feet or more pretty much everyone is wearing gray suits. The only colors that show after about 100 ft are green and blue. Everything else becomes gray and this will happen to your video and pictures as well.

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The wall and Lobster home heaven!

The dive had some chilly moments as we passed through multiple currents. The staff was right about needing a full suit as the 3mm just barely kept me warm. I could see why they were wearing even thicker suits and were insisting I wear a full suit. As we came to the drop at the end of the reef wall Pablo signaled to check our air tanks. Once we get down to 500 we signal Pablo so he is aware of our statuses. Dive masters will regularly check air gauges on the SCUBA groups to regulate how much air everyone has to keep everyone in check.

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Spotted a sea centipede!

As we made it back to the bay I started another search looking for Octopus and lobster around the bay. We continued to enjoy the bay as we waited for the other two divers to surface. The view was so pleasant as I enjoyed relaxing above the water after such a magnificent dive then I heard Pablo talking about something under the boat. As we finished the dive in the sheltered bay I used up my last bit of air looking at the Barracuda which was somewhere under our dive boat.

I wish I had asked Yanni to take more then one photo

The ride back from the bay was just as smooth as the boat ride from the beach. The water was not choppy and Yanni did a fine job keeping the trim of the bow. The weather was great the wind was under 5 knots and the water was crystal clear for over 40 meters. I couldn’t have asked for a better day or a more experienced crew. As we made our way back all I could think about was how beautiful the dive was and what I was going to do to top it! Writing to you from Zakynthos Island, Vance Out!

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The boat ride back to Laganas Beach

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