Planning Your Post-Lockdown Dive Trip (Spoiler…to Israel)
While you may be quarantined or sheltering in place, it can be the perfect time to not just fantasize about your next dive trip but to actually start planning it. While I may be a bit biased since it is my home country, I think Israel ranks with the best destinations in the world (plus it has been doing quite a good job of handling the coronavirus situation). The Red Sea along Israel’s southern border and the Mediterranean to its west both offer world-class diving experiences, each with its own flavor. While we’ve discussed diving in the Red Sea here before, we have not yet mentioned Caesarea. Caesarea is an ancient Mediterranean port city located midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa that is a rather off-the-beaten-path (or off-the-beaten-diving zone??) destination for divers. A large part of the 2,000-year-old seaport sits under five meters of water, making for an extended bottom time that will allow you to explore the ruins at your leisure.
An Ancient Herodian Treasure
Caesarea first prospered under the Phoenicians. Later, at the behest of Herod the Great, the port was developed and dedicated to the glory of the Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar. Caesarea soon boasted a population of 50,000 people and was the capital of the Roman-controlled Judea. The Old Caesarea Diving Center offers several underwater experiences that are suitable for all diving levels, making it especially appealing for families with junior divers and other beginners.
Ignite your Imagination Underwater
Diving the Underwater Archeological Park will afford you the opportunity to explore the Roman harbor. The breakwater still retains its construction imprints from wooden scaffolding, which gives us insights into the plans that were utilized by the engineers at the time. You will be able to swim around the massive stone foundations and the guard towers from the entrance of the port, with anchors of various ages from different vessels punctuating the seafloor. It is a dive that will spark your imagination no matter your age.
The Stream of Sharks… Unexpected and Unforgettable
While the ancient ruins will definitely be a highlight, the area has other great options to explore, such as the dive site dubbed the Stream of Sharks. Located around the Hadera power plant, the site is accessible both by boat and from the beachfront. The proximity to the power plant has created some unique warm-water conditions, which in turn have attracted several species of sharks. While the Mediterranean has seen a decrease of some 97% in shark species over the past 200 years, the increased presence of sandbar and dusky sharks is a fascinating phenomenon, currently being studied by the Morris-Kahn Research Station at Haifa University.
Israel: The Year-Round Dive Destination
The waters of the Mediterranean offer superb visibility throughout autumn, winter, and spring. You can find octopus, sea urchins, and a variety of fish. In fact, Israel is home to over 410 Mediterranean fish species as well as corals and sponges. Start thinking about your visit now and as soon as conditions allow (which I have full faith they will in the not-too-distant future), book your trip. The underwater sights and the topside experiences in a place so steeped in history will make for a journey that you will not regret and will never forget.