I am one of a small number of IANTD Instructor Trainers in the world. Presenting the IANTD black card to another holder is like an invitation to look behind the wall sometimes. I just spent 3 weeks on the Southern coast of Spain and I had an absolute blast - foul weather be damned.
I contacted the IANTD office in Spain and spoke directly with Armin, the licensee himself. I let him know who I was and that I intended to spend 3 weeks in his territory and that I`d like to get in some dives. Armin was great. He set up a technical wreck dive for me and made all the arrangements go very smoothly. Of course, he also made arrangements for doubles and stage bottles to be waiting for me at the boat since it`s not practical or viable to put your doubles and stage bottles in your carry on or checked back - especially if you are flying international.
Visibility in the Mediterranean can be very touch and go. We dove off Malaga on a freighter wreck. The wreck was about 150 feet in length and rested on a silty bottom at 150 feet of depth. If conditions are rough the visibility can be as low as nothing due to the bottom composition. We cancelled the first 4 dates we had scheduled to go out and dive. Luckily I had 3 weeks set aside and I wasn`t leaving until I had gotten wet from something other then rain.
Some tips, diving the Mediterranean is not for folks who aren`t putting on some heavy exposure protection. I packed my 5mm wetsuit and hood because I was trying to conserve space in my luggage. I flew into Madrid and then took the train to Malaga rather than flying directly to Malaga. I`m a Delta boy and Delta has code-share flights to Malaga but if you want to be on a Delta airplane you need to fly to Madrid. I was using SkyMiles to fly to Spain First Class and that required being on a Delta plane or coughing up an additional 30,000 miles. There are no porters to carry your bags. When you get off the plane and head to the train station you are responsible for getting your own bags from point to point. Otherwise, I would have packed my dry suit.
Now, once I got in the water I felt the instant chill. The water was 54* at 150 feet of depth in the Mediterranean. I`d like to say that it was warmer on the African side but when I went to Morocco (didn`t get a dive in) it didn`t feel that much warmer. Bottom line, if you are dry suit certified and have the space in your luggage then by all means take the dry suit! Next time I`ll probably ship my dive gear to the IANTD Spain office and have Armin arrive with my gear in his vehicle.
As a destination, Marbella/Malaga, Spain is a beautiful area. Spain being much smaller than the US you can easily travel to different areas if you are accustomed to road trips US style. The people in this area were incredible. Almost everybody in this area speaks English as well as Spanish and possibly German and sometimes Arabic and maybe Italian and French too. The funny thing was that if you asked for a good restaurant to head out for dinner they almost always pointed to an Italian place in Marbella. Malaga was a bit more proud of the local stuff and had some incredible seafood restaurants.
Armin showed me a nice restaurant in Malaga where we went for an all fish lunch. Expect a good meal to last about 3.5 hours in the nicer restaurants and don`t be alarmed when nobody is willing to rush you out of the place. They don`t have an economic formula in place forcing them to turn tables every half hour. Your check doesn`t arrive until you ask for it.
Technical Diving has some incredible wreck opportunities on the South of Spain. Starting at 150 feet of depth and going all the way to 330 feet (IANTD Trimix Maximum Depth Limit). There are some hitches - Spain, as a country, has laws prohibiting diving below the Recreational limit of 130 feet and they also prohibit diving with Helium in most instances. Therefore you MUST set up a technical dive with someone who can make sure that everything is taken care of. If you are interested in going to the South of Spain for some technical diving feel free to drop me a line and I`ll help you make your arrangements. If you need to do training in order to get to a technical level let me know and I`ll see if I can hook you up with someone in your area or possibly even myself to earn the proper certifications prior to attempting some incredible wreck dives.