Best Walk Caves wrecks and dragon legends
Caves wrecks and dragon legends – The first large swarms of barracuda pass by just a few minutes after diving. Its silvery-blue scales shine and sparkle in the sun’s rays that pierce the crystal-clear water. There are about a hundred copies. With a bit of luck, dragon heads swim here in front of divers – and do La Dragonera honour, the island in front of Mallorca.
The inflatable boat crossing to the Cap de Tramuntana diving area takes less than ten minutes. Pirates and smugglers once lived here, but today only small dragon beings populate the island on land: The countless endemic lizards – and not the dragon heads – are said to have given the name to the island, which is only four kilometres long and 900 meters wide. Another theory says that it comes from the island’s dragon shape, which spectacularly sinks into the Mediterranean as a continuation of the Tramuntana Mountains.
The divers at the northern tip are on the way with Mathias Günther. He owns the Scuba Activa diving centre in San Telmo, a port city in Mallorca. The Stuttgart native was particularly impressed by the abundance of fish when choosing the location.
“Since Dragonera was declared a nature park in 1995 and fishing and anchoring are prohibited, there is an enormous variety of fish that is second to none in the Mediterranean,” says Mathias. “We have huge swarms of barracuda here. We regularly see big groupers, eagle rays and occasionally even sunfish on our dives.” With a bit of luck, his guests even add sightings of seahorses, dolphins and turtles to their diving logs in the summer.
Hover like hawks
During the lunch break, the octopuses observed in the tales of the divers continue to grow and the number of barracudas increases to 300 animals. After a café con Leche, the Spanish version of the milk coffee, and a small snack, the second dive is coming, to another of the around 30 dive sites in front of the Dragon Island.
Mathias drives by boat on the way to the Cap des Llebeig to the south, past the huge cliffs of the northwest coast. The salty smell of the sea mixes with the scent of rosemary and heather that grow in the rock niches. The island rises up to 353 meters here. Seagulls, kestrels and shy Eleanor falcons, hundreds of which nest in the cliffs, nervously perceive the diving boat.
Like the falcons on the cliffs, the divers soon float down the steep walls that continue in the sea. The walls plunge 50 meters almost vertically, the visibility is excellent. Boulders weighing several tons lie on top of each other and form small tunnels through which the divers swim.
Mackerel in front of the bull island
Almost half of Mallorca’s 550 km coastline is protected. The offshore island of Toro near the Bay of Palma is also a marine reserve, so fishing is also prohibited here. “El Toro is certainly one of the best diving spots on the west coast of Mallorca,” says Marc Stöneberg, while he moored his boat to a buoy.
The proof follows at a depth of seven meters. Huge shoals of gold belt fish and mackerel cavort in front of the bull island, from time to time also barracudas and dragon heads. Peacock fish calmly eat in the Neptune grass meadows. On the steep walls, which drop up to 40 meters deep, moray eels look out of rock holes.
“Many divers are surprised to find such fish-rich and interesting diving areas in the immediate vicinity of Palma de Mallorca,” explains Marc, who opened his West Coast Divers Mallorca diving school in 2005 in Illetas. From its base, it can reach up to 20 dive sites within 15 to 20 minutes. The underwater caves of Porto Pi are only three minutes away. The two caves have light from above through the tunnel openings. It illuminates the Mediterranean in clear light blue.
Only a few minutes by boat to Palma are four large shipwrecks at a depth of 24 to 35 meters. Visibility is poor, but Marc leads the divers down to a 60-meter freighter. Then he dives ahead, into the wreck – through the holds, the narrow passages and through the bridge. Large schools of fish have made the ship their home. Just a few meters away there are two freighters and a motor glider on the ocean floor.
Many wreck fans also want to dive into the sea off the island of El Sec: Years ago, three small ships were sunk here, which tourists could initially visit with a submarine called “Nemo”. Since “Nemo” no longer goes down, the divers have the wrecks and their fish inhabitants to themselves. Also just a few kilometres from Alcúdia on the north coast: there the Spanish military sank the still well-preserved submarine “B1” in 1949.
Grotto world underwater
Nearby, Albert Lerycke from the Sport & Nature Alcudiamar diving centre heads for the impressive cave world off the Victoria peninsula. Dozens of caves and underwater caves such as the Neptune Temple can be dived at Cap Pinar. Albert leads his group through a forest of stalactites. If you don’t like the lightness and darkness of the narrow passages, you can explore the El queso dive site: squid, slugs and moray eels frolic here. Tunnels and crevices puncture the exposed rock formations.
Tourists who want to get to know the dive sites further away from the bases take Albert on his “Cabo Negro”. The traditional Mallorcan wooden ship is not just for divers. Everyone else can swim, kayak, snorkel or enjoy the peace in secluded bays that can only be reached by boat.
The Formentor peninsula lies diagonally opposite Cap Pinar – there are also underwater caves here. The diving boat from David’s Skualo diving centre in Bonaire heads for them: As it swept over the calm water of the Pollença Bay, the several hundred meter high cliffs of the Formentor Cape piled up in front of the guests onboard. The water is deep blue and crystal clear, the cliffs shoot vertically into the depths. Huge stalactites hang in the Jeronimo grotto. The underwater cave extends up to 30 meters into the rock.
The southern section of the coast between Porto Cristo, Porto Colom and Cala Figuera is also known for its numerous grottos. “At Punta Blanca in Cala Figuera, you feel vanishingly small compared to the huge rock formations,” says Miquel Pascual from the Top Dive diving centre near El Arenal. It is no coincidence that the unofficial name of the place comes from Cathedral of the stones.