Diving in Tenerife (from Los Galletas)
The following constitutes advice based on my own diving experience in Tenerife, personal experiences may differ!
The Canary Islands offer good all year round diving with generally superb visibility (with the exception of disruption caused by storms/heavy seas). Tenerife is home to a relatively large number of dive schools. Generally speaking divers tend to stick to ones run by their own nationalities to avoid communication issues (though this isn’t set in stone). The island uses the same time zone as the UK, although there is a tendency to adopt ‘Spanish time’ (normal time + 5 minutes late). Flight time from the UK is generally 4 hours
After doing some research I chose to dive with ‘Atlantic Divers’ based in Costa De Silencio. It is run by a highly experienced British guy called Geoff Bidwell who is an ex SADS (military) D/O and also a BSAC and PADI instructor. He also has experience of diving off the Yorkshire coast and off Oban including a lot of wrecks dived by SSAC. He has a good team of dive guides and instructors.
The shop is a fairly small modest place with dive kit, changing area and compressor, though not much time will be spent here. Dives tend to be mostly from a RIB, though there are also some really good shore dives. Entry and exits are normally controlled free descents and controlled free ascents with a midwater hover for safety/deco stops. In ascent the dive guide will normally put up a DSMB.
The currents are generally low and visibility excellent compared to UK (east coast) norms. Water temperatures are generally around the twenties. The tidal range is incredibly small (around 2m).
Locals and most Europeans tend to wear gloves, boots and hoods although these are generally not needed if accustomed to diving in UK waters. It is worth mentioning however that there are some poisonous fish and spikey marine life (such as urchins) that should be avoided (if in doubt ask). If you don’t have great buoyancy, spacial awareness or have a tendency to touch everything wearing the above may be advisable. If rays are touched, gloves can apparently damage their skin. In swim throughs there is also the chance of encountering the marine life mentioned. Where possible landing/resting on the seabed should also be avoid disturbing flat fish, rays and other marine life! Full length (steamer) wetsuits are advisable, but these only need to be 3-5mm depending on your susceptibility to the cold. These can be hired or you can bring your own.
Due to better/easier conditions the approach to diving from the island is more relaxed and the following is common...
No/limited use of bailouts
Little Nitrox use (due to cost and availability)
Only dive guides carry DSMBs
No secondary/reserve kit (spare torches, knives, masks, reels)
Use of 12L dumpy cylinders
Surfacing with less than 50 Bar
Due to minimal kit, buddy checks are also less common. Whilst diving is easier, steps should be taken to avoid complacency.
Take your own dive computer
Take a torch for swim throughs and looking in holes
For longer deeper dives (particularly if male) request a 15L
Ensure you have sufficient lead to maintain buoyancy if nearly empty
Set sensible limits for reserve gas
Stay well hydrated with water before and after dives
Do a full kit check before every dive
After several days of consecutive dives keep an eye on deco building up!
After a flight dehydration is likely, although diving is generally safe. After the last dive of a trip, a generous no fly period should be observed, especially after deep dives. Care should also be taken if ascending mount Tiede (3,700m) and this should be done before starting to dive.
Most dives are between 20-30 metres, but shallower and deeper options are available. The ‘survivor’ wreck is particularly worth a mention and is located further up the coast, east of Los Galletas. It is an intentionally sunk intact vessel, with easy shore entry and navigation by following a pipe.
It also features a few entry points for wreck penetration. It’s common to see large shoals of fish in the vicinity. Depth range for the wreck is around 20m at the masts and around 30m towards the keel. Located on a slope, it’s also possible to dive further beyond the wreck. Safety stop (and/or deco) can be done on the return up the slope towards the shore and is advisable instead surfacing on the marker buoy and surfacing swimming back.
At other sites it’s possible to see stingrays, turtles, trumpet fish, flat fish, cuttlefish, Barracuda along with numerous other varieties. Octopuses and sharks can also be seen on rare occasions.
Written by Andy Coughlin 29/10/19