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Scuba Diving in Lanzarote
Dive Site: Charco del Palo SE (Mala / Lava Caves)
Location: Near Mala, northern Lanzarote
Description: Reef dive
Depth: 0 - 60 metres (0 - 180 feet)
Visibility: 25 - 50 metres + (80 - 165 feet)
Mala is a nudist colony located on the north side of the island about a 45 minute drive from Calypso Divers dive centre. The entry can be tricky as you'll need to walk down a fairly steep cliff in your dive gear to reach the rocky waters edge. There is a pathway and steps down the cliff front and once you reach the waters edge there is a metal ladder into the water. This is an exposed side of the island so if the weather is rough entry and exit can be difficult as the waves sweep over the slippery rocks as you are trying to don fins. This was certainly a unique trek to the entry point for me. Nude sunbathers were dotted in small sandy alcoves along the cliff front as we descended to the water. One of the funniest things I've seen for a long time was the look of embarrassment on my buddies face as a nude tourist held her fins and helped her don them in the rough conditions before she joined me on the surface. If I hadn't been so busy laughing I might have remembered I had my camera and could have clicked off a couple of shots of them kitting up. Once in the water you descend to around 6 metres and there is still quite a swell until you reach 10 metres. As you head around the point the sandy seabed drops to over 20 metres and there are moray eels in the rocky outcrops. On the seabed sand rays are numerous as are the common sea urchins. Once back at the exit point if there is a surface swell, timing is crucial to grab and quickly ascend the ladder between sets of waves. This is where the nudists swim so look out for mermaids and mermen!!!
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
The southerly dive at Charco del Palo is better performed shallow with a max depth of 20m, most of the dive is at 12-15m. From the surface looking SE is a half tide rock which is part of the dive.
Entering the lagoon go SE and pick up another ridge of rock, a nick occurs around 8-10m, go over the ridge and continue over the boulder field and deeper. Look out for black blennies, octopus, scorpionfish, nudibranchs, and in the sand patches dotted around lookout for large spinded scorpionfish and small rays. To the right are rock enclaves which can contain morays including tigers.
Turn gently right and up to 12m, starting back pick up a ridge parallel to shore some of which contains olive green sea grasses wafting away. Notice the colonisation of black diadema (urchins), its locally called blanquazales. This ridge connects to the half-tide rock, and it is here a swim through occurs about 10m long in 12m depth. It is the remains of an ancient lava tube. Swim through into a cavern opening, watch out for rays and urchins on the bottom. The sand is easily stirred but looking out of the entrance is wondrous. In this cavern to the left is a hole where a large moray and cleaner shrimps reside. The return is north to the lagoon.
Half-tide rock, which can easily be seen from the surface by the waves breaking upon it. The surface interval can be spent in one of the local bars, but don't be offended as local nudists visit; it is part of the natural culture of this village.
Once more into the lagoon, we take a more southerly course to a ridge of rock characterised by a small cleft cut out of it at around 12m. The lava is very grey in appearance contrasting sharply with the black smoothed rocks. Urchins or diadema are in profusion, but look out for angel sharks and large-scaled scorpionfish that grow to large proportions here.
A tour around the area reveals many enclaves of twisted lava, covered in a smattered of colourful encrusting sponges. Some of these are home to brown morays, so it's well worth looking. From a depth of 15m heading roughly northwards a distinct ridge of battleship grey lava is picked up, its top a kilt formation of pleats, the base more smooth.
A swirling mass of green weed and urchins seems to be in tune with the surge flying over the rocks at 12m. Going east along the ridge, a lava tube is found. Entering is a great experience, it is 2m wide or so and has many urchins at its base which would like to inflict harm to passing divers! The tube terminates within the half tide rock, where an open cavern looks out, but at its other end is a hole containing a large brown moray and attendant shrimps. This guy has been here for years.
Small cardinal fish dance in the caverns entrance and the whole scene is relaxing. Crossing the hinterland the lagoon end is picked up where a corner reveals a dark area, an entrance to a swim through which should only be attempted during slacker periods. The smoothed pebbles give its presence away and on entering reveals a plethora of sponges only associated with these netherworlds. You could be forgiven with the outstanding water clarity, that it's actually air and not water. It's a return trip so turning around and entering the lagoon is the final step in this dive. Don't rush though, as many blennies and water column fish are around, enjoy the moment as exit could be good or a little challenging!
Charco del Palo SE Resources
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