THERE’S an underbelly to Tarifa even the surf dudes don’t get to see… that is unless they crash below the waves: one that requires an oxygen tank, mask and flippers to explore.
Below the Atlantic swell lies a mesmerising undersea world teeming with colourful fish that makes terra firma seem a million miles away.
I embarked on my subaquatic adventure with the scuba pros at Yellow Sub, who operate out of Tarifa harbour.
They take people of all experience levels on dives and offer official PADI courses. Clients are struck by two underwater wow factors: the clarity of the water and the infinite variety of fish.
After a thorough land-based briefing on safety, science and equipment with my dive manager, Sabina Agostini, we kitted up and made our way to the boat.
Given that my previous introduction to scuba diving was in a university swimming pool, I too was blown away by the vivid underwater landscape and clear visibility. The sheer number of aquatic species – all sizes and colours of the spectrum – is astounding.
We chugged around Tarifa’s mini island, Isla de las Palomas, investigating every nook and cranny, marvelling at the magnificent orange anemones clinging to the rocks.
Sassy sea cucumbers, evil-looking moray eels with their malevolent mouths agape, fish that camouflage themselves in the sand … even Sir David Attenborough would wax lyrical!
“The diving here is amazing, there is so much to see and the water is so clear,” enthused Sabina, from Switzerland.
At one point we came upon a pair of octopuses entwined in a passionate embrace and, feeling like a third wheel, I edged away.
But from Sabina’s hand signals I soon realised they were fighting over the best hiding place under the rocks. It was fascinating to watch and, as the victor took up residence, the loser powered off to regroup, leaving no surface ripple to tell the world above what had transpired in this deep sea ocean kingdom.
Yellow Sub, run by Italian Enrico Demelas, offers dives to 10 different sites, including two wrecks for those who take the PADI courses. There are dives every day, accompanied by professional and incredibly friendly,instructors.
Whether you’re a rookie or an expert seeking fresh challenges, Yellow Sub shows you a haunting underwater world you’d never imagine existed.
For more information visit www.divingtarifa.com