Diving Elba Island

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Elba Island, Italy

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Country: Italy  Area: Italy

Water Temp: 17 - 27°C (63 - 81°F)

Visibility: 15 - 30m (49 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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Elba Island is the largest island in the Tuscan archipelago.  This stunning island in the Mediterranean Sea is famed for its archaeological discoveries, its architecture and its marine life – which is protected within Europe’s largest marine park.  Fringed with white sand beaches and sensationally blue waters, the island is a fantastic getaway for divers and non-divers alike.

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Ebla is famed for being a temporary home of the French Emperor Napoleon during his exile in 1814. However, the island holds a rich history that extends well beyond this period and has led to the construction of a number of monuments and building, still visited today. The Castello del Volterrario and the Napoleonic residences are among the most famous. Outdoor sports and adventure are also popular, with a gorgeous landscape well-suited for biking, trekking, birding and wildlife viewing.

The island itself is located on the edge of a shallow and brightly coloured reef. Rich sea beds and deep walls support a vibrant marine life population, which can be explored by diving or snorkelling. The contrast of rocky cliffs and sandy sea beds are coloured by red and green gorgonians, black coral and even the occasional bit of red coral. Common marine life includes groupers, bluefish, barracuda, shrimp, lobsters, eels and dentex. Sunfish are seen on occasion, as are dolphin, turtles and small sharks. Diving is suited to all levels of experience.

Elba's Cave, Credit

Marine Conservation

Elba Island falls within the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, which also includes the islands of Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri and Gorgona. The park also is included in the Natura 2000 site network, which is the largest network of protected areas worldwide.

In addition to the government conservation initiatives, a number of smaller non-profits and conservation-based organizations operate in the area as well. Pisa University conducts some research in the area, as do visiting global scholars.

Elba Island at night, Credit

Climate

Elba has a typical Mediterranean weather with hot summer and humid winter, the best season starts in May to September. In this period we have temperate weather with really short rain and hot sun (especially from June to August). In this period the minimum temperature is around 20° Celsius at  night and 30° Celsius during the day.

During the winter months, the average water temperature hovers around 10 degrees Celsius. It does warm up in the summer months to the mid to high 20’s, before cooling down again in October.

Other Year round Marine life

Nudibranchs and critters  all year round.

Barracuda can be seen from April to October so is Tunafish, Octopus, Giant Grouper and  Sunfish.

 
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Shore Diving

The Elviscott Wreck can be accessed from the beach of Pomonte, on the west side of Elba. This wreck is a cargo ship that sunk on a sandy bottom, 12 meters below the surface.

Elba shore, Credit

Boat Diving

Over 20 dive sites surround the island of Elba that most dive shops visit. Depth varies from 10 – 40 meters, and visibility ranges from 15 – 40 meters. The currents are generally mild and typically rare. Divers of all skill levels are catered to here, with a few sites ideal for technical divers.

Among the most famous is Punta di Fetovaia, where you can see massive red sea fans. Secca del Papa is a great site filled with underwater pinnacles that are covered by yellow-tipped red sea fans, and acts as a home to moray eels, octopus, nudibranches and plenty of Medeterranian fish. Crevices are favourite locations for shrimp and lobsters, while groupers tend to slowly pass through the more open water.

Boat! Credit

A few other sites include:

Lo Scoglietto: a rock with a lighthouse in front of Portoferraio historic town. This is a National Park and offers different dive sites for beginner and experienced  divers. Everywhere is full of life, such as schools of Barracuda, Giant Groupers.

Pianosa Island: a prison island since few years ago now is possible to visit the land with guided tours and to dive in 4 different sites in the core of National Park with special authorizations. The sea life is incredible reach with Eagle Rays, thousand of Barracuda, many Giant Groupers and Mediterranean Sea Bream.

Formiche della Zanca: few rock surfacing in front of Zanca Town are called “formiche”. The wall outside those rocks is fantastic, completely covered by red sea fan (Gorgonia) and lots of lobsters. 

Liveaboard Diving

There are no major liveaboards in operation around Elba Island.

Information & photos kindly provided by: DIVING IN ELBA

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How to Get there

The island is connected to mainland Italy through a ferry service between Piobino to Portoferraio – the main town on Elba.

The nearest airport to Piombino is Pisa International. A train connects Pisa with Piombino – and other rail networks connect the port city to the rest of the country. Busses are also available.

Train station, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

Perhaps unsurprisingly, food on Elba is classically Italian and heavily incorporates seafood into the dishes. Restaurants cater to most budgets. Marciana Marina is one of the towns on the island that takes food the most seriously – and an entire vacation can be spent exploring the various restaurants there.  Do be warned however that restaurants on Elba are highly seasonal, with many closing outside of the months from May to September.

Favourites in Marciana Marina inclue Cotone del Borgo, La Scaletta and La Africhella. Osteria del Noce is an island-favourite, and one that feels classically Tuscan. It is located on a hilltop and serves a variety of sensational homemade dishes based off of local and seasonal produce. Il Castagnacciao is one of the best pizza restaurants, serving up perfect wood-fired oven pizzas in a tiny and basic restaurant.

Elba Island, Italy, Credit

In the summer, the nightlife is also plentiful and varied. Evenings begin here with an apperitivo, with nights extending thorugh dinner and into the night. Bars and nightclubs do tend to be seasonal with less activity in the winter. Bar Roma is an institution in Portoferraio, while Baretta and Tamata are both popular as well.

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Other Activities

Elba is an island well-suited to all ages, preferences, interests and styles.

For those intruiged by the natural beauty of the island, there are a number of climbing, trekking, biking and horseback riding routes that intersect the island. They travel up the various mountains of the island, providing spectacular views of the surrounding scenery. Winding roads perfectly suited for scenic drives or scooter-rides also give you a great taste of the island and the small towns that stipple the coast. On the shore, windsurfing, kite surfing, sailing and fishing area also popular activities.

In the woods, Elba Island, Credit

Old Portoferrario caters perfectly to those with an interest in history, archaeology and architecture. Ancient stone staircases – known as salite – wind through the cities many alleyways, leading you to countless tiny shops and restaurants. The main square, piazza della Repubblica, is certainly one of the most scenic points. There are also a series of fortresses that surround the city center, with the 16th century Medici fortress and Napoleon’s home (Palazzia dei Mulini) being notable among them.

Finally, if traveling with children, there are a few dive shops that offer bubble maker and junior open water courses for beginners. This, coupled with the countless other activities on the island, make this a wonderful destination for traveling families.

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Tips

Elba has 220 square km of land with really different landscape from North to South and East to West so it is very good to have a trip around to visit the most beautiful beaches, some with white sand, some with rock an others with black sand close to the mineral area and go to mountain. A good way is bring your car on the island but you can also rent a scooter. This is for sure the best solution during summer period because sometimes (in August) the traffic is really strong.

The beauty of Elba Island, Credit

No criminal activities on the island, there are some discotheques and pubs area in Marina di Campo dedicated to young people and we suggest do not  drink and drive in this area because the Police controls every night!

A hyperbaric chamber is available on the island.

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