Rhea Dive Centre, Porto Santo, Madeira

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mike-yPadi rescue2000 TGs

Porto Santo made 1000 points with dive sites

Atlantic diving – the idea sent chills through my body. Friends recommended it with only a short flight (4 h) plus huge groupers there and a dive instructor girl I met on Cyprus now working in M had sent pictures of an amazing and beautiful countryside and flora. M has so much to offer she wrote to me. Well, why not try, I thought. After the last 2 destinations with relatively poor vis I was longing for blue water dives with endless vis, even colder ones.

A look onto a map to find Madeira by chance showed another island in the neighborhood – Porto Santo. Hey, brilliant idea, I love island hopping and get restless when staying too long in one place. P. S. proved to be a fantastic idea. Found a direct flight with Condor to P S. Pestana Hotel could not provide me with a dive center there, Google helped. Rhea Divers promised some good dives and even 22 C degrees in August, Miguel said, he would put one more to it just for me J. 5 mm should do the trick, but somehow my second face warned: „better bring a 2 mm chicken vest with attached hood“, a wise decission. Stayed in Pestana Porto Santo a beautiful and large all inclusive hotel with great pools and well connected walkways to gorgeous endless beaches.

Some hate all inclusive some love it, well if you manage to get away from the crowds and queues and get used to Pina Colada out of a machine it´s not too bad. Food and especially the red wine was excellent and tempting not to stop after one glass. Rhea Divers have a small place with pool in Pestana Columbus next to mine and their office, store, compressor and gear room at the marina, only short way to the Zodiac. Rhea was a goddess in Greek mythology. They offer two tank morning dives to sites, you reach in around 10 minutes. Miguel and his team are pros and you see it watching them handling gear and customers. Their joy in blue water is infectious. They provide excellent service, give profound briefings and safety is number one on their list. I´s fun to find this and be recognized as an experienced diver exchanging tipps and tricks with them.

I chose a 12 liter steel, Miguel gave me 4 kilo weigths wich I did not want and returned after the first dive – no need for this with 12 l steel on my back. The first dive went to the Corvette Cordeca, built by Blohm & Voss in Germany. She was sunk on purpose for divers in 2016, sits on even keel in around 28 meters, not much growth on her so far. To make penetration dives safe they cut additional openings in each place to give entry and exit points and light to each room. Already from the surface you could see part of her. We went from one cargo hold all the way through the main body, saw crew quarters, kitchen, bridge with phones, engine room. Impressive to find the 2 huge diesel engines with a piston put on top to give you some idea of it´s size. Adventurous to swim all along the reling inside the wreck. Down at the belly of the Corvette a big grouper of 1.5 m approached us. He or she is tame they told us on briefing, you can try to touch and get real close with your camera. Got some nice shot of the animal. It was fascinating to look along the superb guns to the upper structure and surface.

Vis you dream of in other places was extremely good. All around the wreck animals, stingrays hiding in the sand, single jacks cruising by. Thousands of small fish came together like on command and took shelter in one of the openings, captivating to watch. Smiling and exxcited faces on board said it all, this already was top notch and 5 stars and could continue, which it did. Only minutes away the second wreck Madeirense which was sunk for divers 6 years ago. The middle part is broken, so no deep entry inside the bowels. Down to the sand the computer shows 34 m nearly Nitrox 32 limit. We cruised around the upper structure and stayed there for more than 20 minutes. Breathtaking how much fish life was around, I thought of Sardine Run. Again thousands of small fish hang around. They scurried around, danced to the left then to the right, came together again in a rush only to scatter away again, it looked like these were guided from some conductor, an awesome picture and choreography. 3 different jacks knifing through brought stress to thousands of fish. We hang on like in a spell mesmerized by this magic. Down in the broken part of the wreck a small school of medium sized barracuda were hovering. Nearby a huge group of red striped mullet was digging in the sand for food. It seemed like for us everybody assembled today here.

The M easily can compete with the Vandenberg, she has much more fish life around. On the surface I guess my eyes told the story, this can please happen again on my short week here. For a change one day Tayla guided me to Bicudas, a site close to the Marina. Not much fish life around here but a canyon build out of square volcanic beams stacked one above the other. It gave an eerie impression like being in some science fiction movie. Vis was endless, wouh. Some small moray eels looked out of their holes, I found some masked moray where cleaner shrimps did good work even doctored in her mouth. To please undercurrent and it´s readers, this time I took a fish ID with me down into the blue. I found: Damselfish, Ornate Wrasse, Parrotfish, Seabras, Grey Trigger, Red Hogfish, Porgy, Blacktail Comber, Bearded fireworm, Amber Jack, Bogue, Scorpionfish, Stingray, Cardinal, Goldline, Conger some in small schools, some single or in pairs cruising along the reef. From Rhea Divers you get a nice certification to confirm you dove both wrecks.

Porto Santo made 1000 points with these dive sites, which Madeira did not succeed in later on. The island has some beautiful long sandy beaches and magnificent nature behind these. I rented some 2 seater e-car and toured all around the island on one morning. There are mountains from volcanic evolution, steep cliffs into the blue in a nearly untouched nature. The climate is mild, 26 C degrees with a nice breeze blowing all the time around your nose. Don´t miss the mouth watering food and especially the red wine, where you surely will enjoy more than one glass. 4 different specialty restaurants alone wait for you in the Pestana, more everywhere around the islands small towns.