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.
If 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.
During 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.
When 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.