Many areas around the world offer places for new or unseasoned divers to start their adventure. That likely isn’t Albania. Albania diving is quite different from anything divers have experienced before, and that includes even the most seasoned of professionals. This area is unchartered and with less than ideal conditions.
However, for that same reason, diving in Albania can offer some things that other areas simply cannot. One of these is the unknown, with largely unexplored and unchartered waters. The others include learning to dive in less than ideal conditions.
Albania Diving: The Country of Albania
When compared to other parts of Europe, Albania is pretty underdeveloped. It is still in a phase of rebuilding, given the communism that lasted until 1991.
The country is made up of terrain comprised mostly of mountains. The water is a beautiful blue and is one of the country’s best features. It lends itself to gorgeous landscapes and has positioned the country as a newer tourist location.
What It Means to Dive in Albania
In short, Albania diving means exploring in virtually unexplored water. That new focus on rebuilding has been primarily geared toward improving everything above the waterline. This means that everything below water has been secondary, or really hasn’t been a focus at all.
Even today, the Albanian government is still trying to chart the Lonian sea. No one is really certain what sits below the water. It could contain planes, mines, old wrecks. It is really still quite unknown.
There are very few dive sites already identified and explored. For some, that is unattractive, but for the more adventurous diver, this is one of the highlights of diving in Albania.
Diving in Sarandë: Shipwrecks
Despite the fact that the area is largely unchartered and unexplored, there are still a few sites that are pretty compelling and have already been identified. Two of these are located in Sarandë, which is a tourist city. There aren’t too many dive shops in the local area, but the ones that are there will have everything you need for some good, casual dives.
There are a number of shipwrecks off the coast that are still yet to be discovered. With that said, Sarandë offers two dive sites that you can comfortably swim to right from the shore. The two sites are the SS Probitas and the Peshkatarit.
The SS Probitas
This site offers a wartime shipwreck that sits at the bottom of the bay. It is a short distance from the shore, a total of shorter than 300 meters. The SS Probitas is an Italian cargo ship from World War II. It is already marked using a surface buoy so that boat traffic will steer clear from the dive site. It also allows divers to get a compass reading before they get under the water.
The ship is huge and measures around 115 meters long. When you get up close, you’ll see it resting on its port side. It is only in about three meters of water at its shallowest point. The area surrounding the ship is pretty lifeless; you might spot a crab or two scurrying along the sea’s bottom, or you might spot a few fish, but that is really all you should expect for the most part.
If you have the time, this ship could easily take up two to three dives to explore properly, given its large size. There are a few key things to look for when diving this site. One of the unique features is the propeller, which is still completely intact. You can also see traces of the bombs that are hypothesized to have sunk the ship. You can do so by inspecting the ship’s side.
One thing you’ll see around this area, unfortunately, is trash. It is quite littered with both small and large items. This also coincides with the fact that the area is largely unexplored and simply has not been a priority for the government.
The second of the dive sites you should visit when diving in Albania is the Peshkatarit, which was previously a fishing vessel. It sunk as a result of a collision with a ferry boat sometime in the 1970s.
The vessel has a length of 60 meters and is sitting in about 30 meters of water. One thing to keep in mind when diving this site is that it isn’t that hard to get entangled. There are plenty of ropes and nets draped on the ship.
You’ll find that the visibility gets a bit better the deeper you get. With that said, it still isn’t great visibility. The nets that are draped on the ship have become the home for plenty of sponge life and plants. You want to make sure you avoid brushing up against any of it.
The area near this wreck will provide better viewing of marine life than the area around the SS Probitas. You’ll see tons of algal growth of different colors. You’ll also see some sea stars, sea bream, scorpionfish, gobies, sea snails, and sea cucumbers. It is also that you’ll get a good view of an octopus and perhaps even some flying fish if you’re lucky.
Things to Keep in Mind
Albania isn’t likely going to take over as the most sought-after diving location. Europe, in general, is just not as well-known for potential diving locations as some other areas in the world. Of the sites available, Albania might not be every diver’s top choice.
To successfully dive in Albania, your first chore will be finding a good dive shop, which can often be challenging. Once you’ve done that, you will still need to contend with the cold waters, as well as the overall poor visibility.
The area itself is pretty unpredictable when it comes to viewing marine life. One dive might get you absolutely no sightings of fish or other marine life, while the next dive could show you everything the area has to offer.
While Albania diving might not be for everyone, it can certainly be appreciated by the adventurous diver. It means exploring waters that are largely unexplored and doing so in less than ideal conditions. Those who appreciate the unknown will likely love Albanian diving. It is entirely possible that you will encounter something no one else has seen or documented.