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Scuba Diving in Bulgaria

The sport of scuba diving brings you to a world you’ve never experienced before; with different shapes, textures, colours and creatures. It renews your senses and provides an incredible sense of freedom, so where better to learn or practice than in the lengthy sunny shores and deep lakes of Bulgaria?

Scuba diving is unique in as much as the swimmer is able to stay under water for prolonged periods of time, unhindered by air lines to a remote air source, as the divers carry a canister of compressed air. This gives the freedom for enhanced exploration of underwater areas such as caves, coral and even shipwrecks when aided by a mask, flippers and sometimes a DPV (driver propulsion vehicle) or “scooter” which moves the diver around quicker.

In order to scuba dive legally in open water anywhere in the world, you will need to obtain a Professional Association of Diving Instructors or PADI certificate. PADI is the widest recognised diving association, with more than 5,300 dive centres and resorts in more than 180 countries and territories. Translations of PADI materials are available in more than 26 languages. For more details on how PADI was formed, visit www.padi.com .

The ideal time to dive

The best time for diving in Bulgaria is in the heat of the summer, where the temperatures in the water can reach 23 degrees between June and September. Although the visibility in the Black Sea can be poor at times, the water is usually temperate and there is much to see in the way of amphibian species, such as crabs, mussels, oysters, dolphins, sand-fish, turbot, sea-cats and other smaller fish, plus a variety of plants and sea-anemone. During some months you’ll also be able to observe the amazing phenomena of the seawater phosphorescence. It is also a very good country for beginners, as the coastline topography includes many shallow and protected waters, which is safer for those just starting to dive.

If you don’t have the complete kit, which can be quite extensive and expensive, then many of the diving centres will have equipment to lend, such as suits, masks, breathing apparatus, safety ropes, flippers, scooters and so on. If you want to start buying your own professional equipment, however, then such brands as Suunto, Apeks and Aqua Lung come highly recommended, and can be found either at the Bulgarian diving centres or purchased online.

Getting qualified

Voda Sport is the largest diving centre, advice bureau and equipment stockist in Bulgaria. They provide an extensive range of scuba related services, including various training and skills courses, equipment including breathing apparatus and underwater cameras, and various trips including inland cave diving, tours along the coast, plus yacht and boat cruises.

PADI courses can be taken with Black Aqua Dive, under the conduction of Vodaport. The preliminary course, Try Dive is a session that takes place in a swimming pool but uses all the usual scuba diving equipment. It also teaches all the safety procedures that are much needed in this sometimes-risky sport. After this, you can move on to taking the remainder if the PADI courses in open water, which once completed, will enable you to go diving with a buddy. The open water course takes around four days to complete, and also includes learning dives, doing written theory work as well as learning other practical skills. Other courses that can be undertaken include the advanced open water course, the rescue diver course, deep diving, night diving, wreck and various first aid courses. Full details of Black Aqua Dive and the courses can be found on the website.

Diving Safaris

Black Aqua also prepare personalised diving safaris so that you can enjoy the best of the Northern Black Sea Coast dive sites, such as some Russian submarines, the remains of merchant wrecks and some underwater caves off Cape Shabla near the Romanian border. Near Kavarna, just off Cape Kaliakra you can explore ‘Kamen Briag’ and ‘The Bat’s Den’, both underwater caves, and off the coast of Varna you can explore some sunken German torpedo boats and battle ship and landing craft, plus the Carol 3 minelayer and Tanker “Pelish”.

Monisub, another Bulgarian diving organisation specialise in tours in the Danube and Bulgarian lakes as well as the Black Sea. Such tours include “The Underwater Forest”, which lies in the gap between the Northern part of Bulgaria's Sozopol and St. Ivan’s Island. The “forest” supposedly came about around 70 million years ago, and started as a swamp not far from the coast. During a great geological cataclysm the sea level quickly increased by 20 meters, and as the water supposedly contained no oxygen, the forest fossilised instead of decaying. Another tour by Monisub is the boat diving tour around St. Ivan Island and St. Peter Island, where various sea inhabitants can be seen. Underwater night ‘sightseeing’ can also be undertaken near Sozopol at St Stefan Bay, where you can see various interesting rocks, the typical Black Sea black shells that accumulate in the area, and various fish and crab species.

Deep Blue, based in Sofia, also offers various underwater adventures, such as trips through dams, lakes and caves around northwest and central Bulgaria, as well as the aforementioned sights down the Black Sea Coast. Deep Blue also organise preliminary training for children to scuba dive in accordance with the PADI certification. Some such dams they tour through include the Batak, Iskar, and Iovkotsi dams, where they also offer accommodation. Another interesting tour unique to Deep Blue is the trip to the mussel plantation, which allows the visitors to explore how the plantation functions. After the tour you can try various mussel-based dishes prepared by the in-house chef. In addition to this, the company also hires out motor boats and jet skis for further entertainment.

So, discover the underwater world and all the depths that the Black Sea and Bulgaria have to offer by donning your mask and flippers and taking the dive. For more information, visit  www.vodasport.com