St Tropez is primarily celebrated for its glamour, offering designer boutiques, Michelin-Star restaurants, and of course the world-famous Pampelonne beach. Lesser known is that the French Riviera boasts over thirty diving sites, making the Plage de Pampelonne a haven for divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Suitable for children, casual snorkelers or certified divers, options for diving in the Med seem endless: scuba dive in scintillating coral reefs and other-wordly coves, discover the rich flora and fauna not far from Pampelonne, or go deep water diving to venture into sunken ships and glimpse at the Mediterranean’s most elusive creatures. With a wealth of choices for St Tropez water sports, diving in the Med’s warm waters is the best way to discover the magic of the marine world.
Diving in the Med: an introduction
The Mediterranean is a giant reservoir of rich marine biodiversity and geology. Much of the area surrounding the French Riviera is protected, allowing for marine life to develop peacefully and meaning that the waters are crystal-clear. These unique conditions make diving near St Tropez a mesmerizing experience, with innumerable types of colorful and rare species cohabiting here in harmony.
Cap Camarat is renowned for offering water sports in St Tropez, based just a fourteen-minute drive from Pampelonne. Diving schools for all ages and levels are dotted all along the seafront, providing group and private lessons, and all the guidance and equipment you’ll need.
History buffs and deep sea divers will be delighted by the ruins of ships and submarines found across the Mediterranean sea bed. Meanwhile, beginners will love scuba diving in the Med’s Sardinaux zone near Sainte-Maxime; the water is so transparent that you’ll distinguish every gill of the colorful small fishes and barracudas that roam the area.
La Gabinière: the best dive spot for flora & fauna
La Gabinière is a must-see for those diving in the Med, located near St Tropez off the coast of Hyères. Perhaps one the best diving sites in Europe, this natural marine reserve of Port-Cros is a universe of contrasts. From the outside the azure water is still and calm, but the lush underwater landscape is a busy, ultra-colorful wonderland. You can spot large crabs, spiky black sea urchins and starfish, as well as a host of neon corals and underwater plants. An impressive amount of fish species cross each other in flurries: barracudas, flecked rays and schools of groupers to shimmering green mahi-mahi, castagnoles, silver kingfish and the menacing scorpionfish. You may even be lucky enough to glimpse at an octopus, one of the sea’s most intelligent creatures.
Discover the sunken treasures of the Mediterranean
For those with diving experience and certifications, diving in the Med is the occasion to discover some of the region’s most exciting shipwrecks and ruins.
The Rubis is a 66m-long, 1930s mine-launched submarine that sank in the 1950s right off the coast of St Tropez. Situated 40-metres deep underwater, this iconic wreck is too unsafe to properly explore but you’ll be able to see the cabins, gear and a torpedo-launcher left intact. Rays, barracudas, lobsters and the extraordinary sunfish inhabit and roam the wreck. You will also spot stunning sunset-colored goatfish playing in the beautiful neon corals that litter the seabed.
Venture out further to Port-Cros to see one of the most mystifying shipwrecks in the Med. Built in 1882 and sunken in 1918, The Togo is a 76m cargoshop with three monument masts. You can explore the engine room and touch the antique anchors. The wreck is covered in stunning fauna, such as the gorgonian sea fans, a feather-like coral that comes in an array of purples, oranges and pinks. Congers and iridescent fish, such as the anthias hide in the nooks and crannies. Most companies specialized in water sports in St Tropez will offer a boat trip to this historical treasure.
Want to explore these incredible dive sites? Rent a villa on Pampelonne Beach and enjoy each one at your own pace.