Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is located west of the Italian mainland, between Italy, Spain and Tunisia. Sardinia is a part of Italy and Italian is spoken as a first or second language by a majority of the population. The Italian name of the island is Sardegna while locals speaking Sardinian call their home Sardigna, Sardinna or Sardinnia. Sardinia is celebrated throughout the world for its great beaches, but also offers some excellent scuba diving along its vast and sometimes pretty rugged coastline. Dive sites are located all round the island and offer cave diving, wrecks, corals, crustaceans, etcetera. One downside is that there is generally not a lot of really large fish in these waters.
Scuba diving usually takes place during the summer season, but a 5 mm wetsuit is still recommended. In early spring the average water temperatures are around 14° C (57° F), while summer temperatures average at 26° C (79° F). During the summer you can expect to find the thermocline at a depth of around 12 m, and below this temperature will drop to 15° C (59° F). Underwater visibility around Sardinia will reach up to 25 meters (82 feet) on a good day.
Several good scuba diving sites are located near Costa Paradiso, including Lo Stazzu, La Punta, Le Guglie, Rocca Ruia and Grotta Niedda. Lo Stazzu features a crevice in which you can swim down to a sandy-bottom cave located at around 26 meters (85 feet). This cave is known to be home for really big lobsters. Lobster species found around Sardinia include Scyllardides latus (Slipper Lobster) and Palinurus elephas. Scyllardides latus differs from most lobsters since it is equipped with plates instead of antennae. When ascending, you can swim up a chimney and emerge closer to the surface. Look out for octopuses, nudibranchs and moray eels and enjoy watching the beautiful red corals. The Sardinian waters are also where you can find the biggest known mussel species in the world – a fan mussel called Pinna nobilis.
If you like wreck diving you should head for the gulf of Cagliare, since it is filled with many wrecks that sunk during World War II. Unfortunately for recreational scuba divers, quite a few of the wrecks are resting really deep down and are therefore out of reach. A wreck located at a more modest depth of 32 to 43 meters is the Romagna. She was an Italian tanker that sunk in 1943 after having collided with a floating mine. The exploding mine caused the bow to be completely broken off and scattered, but the hull is still quite intact. Exercise extreme caution when diving at this dive site, since there is fishing nets entangled on the hull. This dive is only suitable for experienced divers who are familiar with deep scuba diving.
One of the endangered marine species found in the Sardinian waters are the Mediterranean Monk Seal. They were once spread out all over the Mediterranean Sea, but there are now only 400 to 500 left and Sardinia is one of their last havens. They are called Monk Seals since they have several folds of fat around their necks, resembling the folds formed on the robe of a Catholic monk.