Zenobia: The wrecked queen of the Larnaca sea shore (Cyprus from underneath the waves)

Keo beers, Keo water, Keo wine, Cyprus Ouzo and Feta cheese are one of the sure things you will encounter when visiting the ancient island of Cyprus. This small half Greek and half Turkish speaking island, however, offers much more than just tasty foods, ancient ruins and Saharan sand raining from the sky. Cyprus is a host to one of the best and easily accessible wrecks in the world, “the Zenobia”. Located about one and a half kilometers from Larnaca, the Swedish made ferry rests on its port side (left side) on the sandy bottom floor. Since it is so close to the shore and only in 16-42 meter depth, Zenobia offers a great opportunity to get up close and personal with this gigantic ferry.

Obviously, since the Zenobia wreck is sitting so close to the Larnaca harbour, it is most convenient to setup camp in Larnaca and explore the wreck with one of the Larnaca dive shops. However, since overseas trips are also usually for a relaxation holiday and cultural experience as well as some hard core diving, Larnaca might not be the best town to do it all. The good news is that Cyprus is a quite small island, so wherever you decide to lay down your base camp, the local dive center will set you up with a trip to explore the Zenobia. In my opinion, the Paphos town is one of the best places where one can experience some of Cyprus’ divine history, chill out on a beach in Coral Bay or take 1.5 hour car ride to see one of the most popular wrecks in the world.

rear zenobia propellerIf you decide to lay down your bags in Paphos, you have a choice of about five dive centers, however, beware, the quality of the equipment as well as the customer service as it varies greatly. The one dive shop that stands out though is the Dive Point Cyprus. Dive Point is owned and operated by a very friendly Scottish ex-military chap Ray who will go above and beyond to meet all your diving needs. You can rest assured that he will never give you the “it is more than my pays worth” phrase as an answer to your request and if you are thinking about getting your diving license while visiting Paphos, Ray’s Dive Point shop is simply the best. Ray is a born teacher who loves what he does, so you can be sure you will master all the necessary skills under his constant instruction and thorough supervision. Even if you just want to go for a dive with Ray, you will definitely pick up a trick or two as he is like a chest of diving insider secrets.

So, what will your dives at the Zenobia with Dive Point look like? Well, the day starts bright and early with a drive to Larnaca. You can grab a great grilled haloumi and ham sandwich on the way in one of the locan tavernas. When you arrive in the Larnaca port, you will load all your equipment on the boat and 5-10 minutes later you are on the site right above the Zenobia wreck. If you are lucky and are doing the Zenobia at the right time, your group might even be the only people on the boat and perhaps even the only boat scouring the Zenobia during that time.

dead lifeboats on zenobiaDuring the drive and the boat trip you can plan your 2 dives. Many enthusiastic divers try to cover as much ground during a dive as possible which usually causes them to actually miss out on more underwater wonders than they’d think. Zenobia is such a large ship that it is impossible to see it all. The best way to approach it is to look at the Zenobia map with a local experienced dive master and plan a few main sections you’d like to see. For example: your first dive can start at the stern of the ship, exploring Zenobia’s large propellers as well as the humangous rear closing doors. You will be amazed at the sheer size of the door. On this side of the ship you can also see a few huge trucks still attached on the deck as well as the lifeless life boats. For the second dive, why not go inside and see the cafeteria with the original carpeting still on the floor and the accommodation area with toilets, showers, blankets or pillows still looming in the darkness. After that you can head to Zenobia’s bow to get a Leonardo’s Titanic moment and then make your way to the captian’s bridge.

sunk trunk on zenobiaWhen you get down to the Zenobia, you will be stunned by how much life has found refuge around the ferry. If you dove at any other sites like the Amphitheatre or Pistol Bay in Paphos, you will be able to see the unproportional difference. The amount of life on this man made artificial reef is just awesome. You will feel as if you are constantly part of a school of fish with baracudas lurking in the shadows, sea breams quickly skimming by, the occasional playful wrasse taunting you with its colors or the large mouth groupers giving you the lazy eye. Don’t just take my word for it and just dive it.

If wreck diving is not your cup of tea, why not go check out one of the best coral reef diving in Western Australia, the Ningaloo Reef or check out the sea turtles at Phi Phi Islands in Thailand.

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Posted in Diving Spots, Larnaca, Cyprus, Wreck Diving, Zenobia, Cyprus | Dive Tags , , , , , , , |

Anyone Can Now Enjoy Snorkeling (Safe Snorkeling with Swim Safety Device)

If you love to watch marine life documentary films, but you lack the confidence of going out on your own to snorkel in the open sea, I have just the answer for your dilemma. If you are an experienced snorkeler, but you often find yourself checking for incoming boat traffic instead of focusing on what great mating rituals are happening under the water, I have just the answer to your dilemma as well. Meet the Swim Safety Device. Even though, its original purpose is meant for keeping swimmers safe during open water swimming, it can easily just as well be used during your next snorkel trip.

The Swim Safety Device is much more than just a float. Its seamless use and effectiveness make it a perfect safety gear for the snorkeling community. So, how does it work?

Swim 4 health - swim safety deviceThe float itself is about 50 cm long and 25 cm tall when fully inflated and it is able to easily support a full grown person, so you don’t have to worry about the float not being able to withstand your weight. It was designed to keep a swimmer safe, so you are in good hands. The safety device is attached to your waist with a band and a snap buckle which in turn is attached via a lead line to the float. This attachment allows you to move freely around the surface of the water while exploring the wonders of the underwater life. You don’t even know, the float is there until you need it. When you need to take a rest, all you need to do is just wrap your arm around the float and for better grip, catch a nicely designed handle on the bottom of the device. This will allow you to have a good grip which won’t slide off.

Wait, there is more. If you think that the float will cause you to exert extra energy when kicking around the surface with your fins, think again. The device is designed in a such a way that the float just hangs in the wake behind you and is actually moving in the direction of your kick without you barely noticing. The reason for this is that when you kick forward, your body causes the water behind your swirl and follow you in the direction of your swim. So, the float takes advantage of this physics phenomenon and follows you wherever you go without hindering your movement, thus draining a precious energy you could use elsewhere.

dry bag storage compartmentIf this has not convinced you yet, how about if I told you that the Swim Safety Device also serves as a dry bag. No more worrying about the items you left unattended on the beach, just put your towel, flip flops, sunglasses, sun tan lotion and perhaps even a small water bottle into the float, close the water tight seal, inflate it with your mouth and voila, all your stuff is with you during your snorkel trip and dry when you get back.

Finally, other benefits of using the Swim Safety Device include improved snorkelers visibility. Next time when you watch a fellow snorkeler from the beach or a boat, pay attention how visible the snorkeler is. Usually, it takes a while to spot the person snorkeling, because the only thing that is sticking out is a snorkel, a clump of hair on the back of the head and a slow motion of the fins splashing. Now, if this is so hard for a stationary person to spot a snorkeler, how about a moving speed boat. That is almost an impossible feat in 60km/h moving boat. Unfortunately, these accidents of moving boats running over a lone snorkeler are quite common. However, with the Swim Safety Device and its screaming bright orange color, you will not only be safe from fatigue, but also from any boats coasting around the area as they will see you from far far away.

storing the swim safety deviceTo top all these features off, when fully deflated and stored, the Swim Safety Device is not much bigger than a smart phone, so it can easily be added to your luggage without sacrificing the needed space. If you have your own equipment, you can even squeeze it into one of your fins and you won’t even know it is there.

As you can see, the Swim Safety Device is a brilliant piece of equipment to have with you on your next vacation trip. So, whether you are just a snorkeler wannabe or a seasoned experienced snorkeler, the Swim Safety Device is a must have for anybody who has any self-preservation bone left in their body. The beauty of it also is that it only costs $29.95, so skip a few coffee breaks with your colleagues or a meal and you just bought yourself the greatest equipment out there which might just save your life.

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