We are lucky to have some incredible wreck dives in the surrounding waters of La Manga and Cabo de Palos, creating beautiful artificial reefs, amazing swim throughs and fascinating steel structures covered in life all with an interesting history and sometimes mystery of how they ended up there.
The underwater mountain range that stretches into the water from the coast has seen many ships come to a sticky end in rough seas due to poor navigation, misread charts and many years of maritime warfare. Some ships as old as Roman, some as recent as the 1990’s, most have been salvaged and some with their contents on display at the Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Cartagena. Also, the 2 world wars of the 20th century have meant a scattering of vessels sunk to the sea bed just of the coast by various means, from U-boats torpedoing vessels to naval ships crashing into each other, there are many fascinating wrecks to be dived.
The most famous of these wreck is of course the “Nadir”, or most commonly known as “El Naranjito”. This 50m merchant ship came to its end in 1946 during a storm when its cargo of Oranges shifted unsteadying the ship causing it to list, take on water and sink only 1 mile of shore.
Its now famous name El Naranjito means “little Orange” referring to the hundreds of Oranges that washed up on the surrounding beaches of Cabo de Palos for days and weeks after her sinking.
This is one of the most popular dives not just the area but the whole of Spain. At 42 meters to sea bed and with the shallowest part of the wreck 28 meters this is a wreck that can easily be dived by Advanced Open Water divers with Deep diving experience. It is covered in marine life and is a known site for the rare Mola Mola sun Fish! For more information have a read of our Naranjito Wreck Dive blog post.
The “SS Stanfield” is another famous wreck and fantastic dive site in the area, sitting at 60m on the sea bed. She was a cargo vessel in world war 1 sailing to Italy under a Greek flag. Rumour has it that it was a British ship in disguise and why it is sometime referred to as the “SS Nitza”. There is some confusion as to the actual events that lead to her sinking, some reports say a German U-boat torpedoed her in the night, others suggest that she crashed into the reef near Isla Hormigas while sailing with no navigation lights to avoid being spotted by U-boats. Either way, this 110-metre wreck now sits up right at a depth of 60 metres, and 44 metres to the top bridge area, it is in great condition with many areas to penetrate. This is a technical dive and suitable for Tri-mix due to the depth, it also gets struck by strong currents. We have a video showing some highlights here.
Originally called the Thordisa then Lilla, another fantastic wreck dive that is relatively close to shore is the “Carbonero”. This dive site got its new name because of the cargo of coal on board or “Carbon”. She sits in 44 meters of water about 5 miles of shore, and is 88 meters long. Again, this wreck is in great condition, sitting up right and covered in marine life with plenty of room to safely explore. The damage was done on 13th October 1917 when she was torpedoed by U-35 and sank to the sea bed. Have a look at a video clip of the dive site. Click here to watch a video of the Carbonero.
One other fantastic spot for wreck diving in the area is the reef system called Bajo de Fuera. This underwater pinnacle rises from over 60 metres deep to just 5 metres below the surface and is now home to 3 known ship wrecks. Due to the contrast of extreme depth and shallows in such a small reef it makes for an amazing dive site on many levels. The 3 wrecks are the Minerva, the North America and the Sirio. The Sirio is the most easy to access with wreckage starting as shallow as 20M and is well spread out across the northern plateaux of the reef. There are 5 massive boilers covered in purple sea fans and soft anemones, that descend deeper onto the reef towards the in tact stern section at 50M. The Minerva sits entirely upside down on the Southern side of the reef and starts at 40M. A fully intact propeller and rudder are a stunning sight again covered in brightly coloured sea fans. Finally the North America, the deepest of the 3 wrecks, also sits on the Southern side of the reef on its side with a large section of the wreck in tact including a rear deck gun. Again the wreck is covered in marine life, gorgonian sea fans and a plethora of fish species making it a truly amazing dive.
Clearly these are deep technical dives and advanced technical diver training is required to dive to these depths, with compulsory decompression and tri-mix for the deeper dives. The reef of Bajo de Fuera is perfect for ascending and completing and required deco and offers shelter from potential currents and a pristine reef to enjoy during stop time.
There are many more wreck dives to be explored in the area, sadly some are too deep for us dive, others are on the fringes of sport diving depths and some are too broken up to be identified even as wrecks. They span centuries of nautical shipping routes, trade and warfare that made this area so important from Roman times through to modern shipping and defensive strategy, all making a more interesting dive environment for us!
If you are interested in diving any of these wrecks, or would like to know more about the training we offer such as TDI Technical Diver courses please get in touch.