Diving Lefkas Island

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Lefkas Island, Greece

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Country: Greece  Area: Greece

Water Temp: 17 - 27°C (63 - 81°F)

Visibility: 10 - 30m (33 - 98 ft)

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Lefkada also known as Lefkas or Levkas, actually the sleeper hit of the Ionians, is one in the group of the Eptanisa or “seven-islands” in Western Greece.

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Its capital city is also called Lefkada. The island is separated from mainland only by a 50-meter wide canal, Drepanos. It was once attached to the nearby mainland by a narrow isthmus until occupying Corinthians breached it with a canal in the 8th century BC.

Mountainous and remote in the centre with gorgeous vistas and forests, the island is lined on its west coast with some of the best beaches in Greece. It is surrounded by nine satellite islands, including Meganisi, Kastos, Kalamos, Madouri and Skorpios, the former island of the Onassis family.

The beautiful Lefkas waters, Credit

Lefkada remains steadfastly island-like in the best of ways. It attracts thousands of tourists from Greece and abroad with its mild climate, beautiful beaches, spectacular mountains, clean sea, amazing waterfalls, rich culture and charming traditional villages. In remote villages older women sport traditional dress and the main town of Lefkas has a refreshing mid-20th-century appeal. Lefkas combines great activities, a friendly atmosphere and intriguing diving and is relatively quiet in comparison to other Greek islands.

Diving in the Greek Islands was heavily restricted until 2006 when the islands and surrounding oceans were opened to diving tourists.  In the years since, the Ionian Sea has become a favourite among divers keen to see archaeological artefacts alongside vibrant marine life.  There are sites that cater to every skill level, with many opportunities for advanced divers in deep water.

The limestone coast has great bottom topography, and plenty of cave and cavern formations. There are large drop offs and stunning reefs, with octopus, barracuda, moray eel, grouper, sea bream, damsel and lobster seen frequently. Visibility conditions are typically good (16 – 20m), and weather year round makes for safe diving conditions.

Underwater, Credit

Climate

The Ionian Islands enjoy a stable, predictable maritime climate with fairly cool summers (June – September: typically 28-32 by day, 22-26 by night) compared to other parts of Greece. Generally speaking rain is very unlikely, and apart from a regular afternoon breeze there are rarely any winds.

Water temperatures range from 16 to 23 degrees Celsius depending on the time of year and particular dive site. Diving is available year round.

Marine Conservation

There are three regions in Lefkada which are protected by NATURA 2000, an EU protected area. Two of these areas are on land, but the third is a marine region that spans from Lygia to cape Lefkata, including the nearby islets of Skorpios, Mmeganisi, Kalamos, Kastos and Mmadouri. Within this marine sanctuary, troll fishing is completely prohibited and the European Commission regularly monitors the biodiversity and marine life. Some small NGOs also operate on the island, and focus on turtle conservation.

Until 2006, diving in the Greek Islands was very restricted in an effort to protect the artifacts found on the sea floor. Having recently regulated the industry to ensure maximum marine conservation, divers can now embark on an informal archeological adventure within the marine park.

 
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Diving

There are no shore dives off of Lefkas.

Clear vis, Credit

Boat Diving

All dives in Lefkas are done by boat. Dive sites vary from rocky sand to walls decorated with coral and sponges. The region has a distinct thermocline, which occurs at about 3 – 4 feet. Due to this dramatic shift in ocean temperature, the area has especially rich biodiversity. Morray eels, lobsters and octopus are often seen in these waters, as are schools of Jacks and the occasional barracuda.

A favourite dive site is ‘The Caves’, located 10 minutes from Vassiliki Bay by boat. With a max depth of 30 meters, and an average visibility of 20 meters, these six caves become progressively more intruiging. They’re often a hit with macro-photographers given the presence of small red shrimp that hide within the caves.

Fishes behind the coral, Credit

Liveaboard Diving

Numerous Liveaboards sail throughout the Greek Islands. Those that include Lefkas’ dive sites often also visit other areas in the Ionian Sea, including Messologi and Kefalonia. These tours often depart from Lefkas directly before sailing south.

Lefkas, Greece, Credit

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Getting There

Preveza airport (PVK) is located just 20 min away from the island and the island is connected to the mainland with a floating bridge. No boat required.

Tourists & Cars, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

The town of Lefkada is full of traditional Greek tavernas and souvlaki restaurants, all with reasonable prices. A few local specialities worth trying include: savori, sofigado, maridopita, rice pie, boiled clams and fresh fish. Minas Taverna, just north of Nydri, has become an island favourite with its great pasta, grilled meat and seafood. Kolyvata Taverna is a fantastic, and unique restaurant, given that it is run out of the front of Kiria Mmaria’s home. She serves a blend of Italian and Greek meals. Within the harbour at Vasiliki bay there are approximately 15 restaurants, serving anything from American to traditional Greek meals.

Bottle of Beer, Credit

There are a few bars throughout the island as well. Zeus is popular with younger crowds, and is located in Vasiliki’s main strip. 155 is somewhat more up market, and serves pricey cocktails on the waterfront.

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Family Activities and diving for Children

Windsurfing for all levels, organized MTB tours, few of the best beaches in the world (Egremni is award as the 2nd best in the world from BBC)

Having fun, Credit

Other Activities

The pebbled and sandy beaches are one of the biggest draws to the island. Easily accessible by car and foot from the main town, days can be spent walking between coves and cliffs. Hiring a boat for the day will carry you to some of the most secluded beaches, not accessible by land. For those looking for activity on the beaches, windsurfing is a very popular activity and is organized by MTB Tours. The BBC recently ranked Egremmi beach as the 2nd best beach in the world. Nydri and Kathisma are also stunning and popular beaches.

The island’s interior had numerous walking paths through the mountains and forests. The highest mountain, Stavrota, is 1182m in altitude. Small villages can be found throughout the interior, and are of interest given that they retain traditional Greek culture and customs. The villages of Karya and Nikiana are both beautiful to walk through. Some trails and tours will also lead you to the beautiful Waterfalls of Dimosari near Nidiri. Mountain biking these trails is also popular.

Kayaking, Credit

Within the town of Lefkada, there are a variety of historic sites, museums, monasteries and shops to explore. Some of the quintessential sites include Nydri, the mediaeval Venetian castle of Agia Mavra, prehistorical city of Nirikos, Lefkata cape, Monastery of Faneromeni,  the most important religious centre of Lefkada; the Archeological Museum, and Agios Ioanis Antzoussis Church. It is also possible to walk to the ancient city of Lefkada, which is approximately 6km east of the current capital. Here, you can see remnants of the old city, the theater and the city walls.

Some of the dive centers of Lefkas do offer Bubble Maker and Discover Scuba courses for children and beginner divers.

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Tips

Whilst travelling in the boats, exposure to the sun is deceptively high (disguised by the spray and breeze), so protect yourself!

September is an ideal month to visit, given that prices (and temperatures) are generally milder.

Man jumping! Credit

Note that the nearest hyperbaric chamber is in Athens, approximately 360km away. Travel insurance that factors in diving-related emergencies is strongly recommended. There is however a hospital in town that is able to treat smaller emergencies and ailments.

The island itself is very safe, with residents often leaving windows and doors open. Normal precautions over valuables should however still be exercised. There is a local police station for any problems that arise.

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When to see whale sharks

Hi I'm planning on making a trip to you guys but was wondering when the best time was to come to get a chance to swim or dive with whale sharks please it's been my dream for some time now. Any help would be fanstatic thank you.

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