South of France has many surprises for travelers. Wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees, the French Catalonia has a preserved coastline, 100 kilometers long, alternating beautiful beaches, rocky coves, charming small fishing villages and hillside vineyards. If you add 320 days of sunshine per year, you just find your next holiday destination.
The Vermilion coast starts south of Argelès-sur-Mer on Racou beach and extends to the Spanish border at Port-Bou through Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbere. It is a paradise for hikers for scuba diving enthusiasts. Divers, be happy, a lot of dive sites are waiting for you.
Where can you dive in the Pyrenees Orientales?
Marine Park Gold du Lion
Created in 2011, this natural park stretches over 100 km of coastline. There are more than 1,200 animal species and about 500 plant species in this wonderful underwater ecosystem.
Banyuls Cerbère Marine Nature Reserve
Integrated in the Marine Park Gold du Lion, this nature reserve is the oldest in France. This area covers 6.5 km of shorelines and about 2 km offshore, for a total area of 650 ha at sea. In this area, fishing is highly regulated and any discrepancy strongly reprimanded. These regulations allow marine life to flourish and it is here that we find the highest concentrations of fish on the vermilion coast. It is also home to three main Mediterranean habitats that are based on the development of plant forms: the Lithophyllum cornice, Posidonia meadows and coralligenous. Some of the dive sites can compete as the best French dive sites.
The mythical wrecks of the eastern Pyrenees
How to talk about this region without mentioning the many wrecks that lies on its funds. The most famous of them: the Alice Robert said the Bananier, 88-meter freighter torpedoed during the second world war, in 1944, will be perfectly suitable for confirmed divers. This wreck lies on a sandy bottom at nearly 47 meters deep. Another mythical wreck of the surrounding area: the Saumur has had a similar fate as this cargo ship, slightly larger 98 meters long was torpedoed the same year and rests at 46 meters deep. Finally, the Astrée, presents the same characteristics as these two wrecks.
When to dive to Pyrénées Orientales?
The best time to visit the Pyrenees Orientales is probably during the summer period. However, if you want to avoid the many tourists, we recommend Mai, September and October.
Visibility you can expect between 5 meters and 30 meters.
Currents are almost nonexistent or really weak. However, ask for advice from your dive center according to the dive sites targeted.
Level: from beginners to super experienced divers baptisms.
Water Temperature varies between 11 ° in winter and 24 ° in summer. Expect, however, to experience temperature drops if you go down more than 20 meters.
How to got in Pyrénées Orientales?
You can always take the train or plane to Perpignan. Regional trains also provide links to all the coastal towns.
What to see underwater?
On the Vermilion coast, we find a large part of the Mediterranean fauna and flora. Local vegetation includes Posidonia meadows, Lithophyllum lichenoides, Cymodocea or Coralligenous algae. You will discover, fifty species of corals including the famous red coral. There are many gastropods, bivalves, polychaete worms and of course many species of fish: sars, saupes, barracudas, groupers, amberjacks, bonito, dentis, corbs, red mullet, lobsters, sea cicadas but also stingrays and, for the lucky ones, eagle rays.
The Eastern Pyrenees are a wonderful destination that we hope will be on your next diving holiday!