Occitania, an underwater paradise
With 200 km of coastline, a natural marine park and a marine nature reserve, Occitania is a vast area to explore for scuba-divers: from sea hikes to deeper dives with oxygen bottles, for all levels, for children and adults.
SCUBA-DIVING SPOTS FOR ALL
From Le Grau du Roi to Cerbère
The Gulf of Lion natural marine park extends over 100 km from Leucate to Cerbère. It includes a large number of scuba-diving sites, especially along the Côte Vermeille. Don't forget the other part of the coast, between Leucate and Le Grau-du-Roi: volcanic tableland in Cap d'Agde, the plateau of Aresquiers, shipwrecks in Espiguette... it's time to get your swimfins on!
The Occitania coast has some fifty diving organisations to help you enjoy this regulated and supervised activity.
Scuba-diving clubs have beginners' lesson for ages 8 and over! From beginners level to level 4, with full respect for the safety rules, everyone can defy gravity at their own pace.
INCREDIBLY RICH UNDERWATER LIFE
What will you see?
Sea-grass bedswith plants native to the Mediterranean. A large number of protected species,such as red coral, the Mediterranean slipper lobster, date shells, seahorses and dusky groupers, a fish associated with the rocky depths. Spiny lobsters, octopus and cuttlefish... and even dolphins! No less than 1,200 animal species and 500 plant species can be found inside the perimeter of the Golf of Lion natural marine park.
The Etang de Thau, a lagoon near Sète, is an area rich in seahorses. This is a shallow, easily accessible site, and people come from far and wide to see the strange little fish.
THE CERBÈRE-BANYULS NATURAL MARINE RESERVE
A unique site in France
This is the only underwater nature reserve in mainland France- and it's in Occitania! Between Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbère in Pyrénées-Orientales, it extends for 7 km along the coastline and covers 650 hectares in all. Slabs of rock, sandy depths and sea-grass beds containing a wide variety of animal and plant species. In a fragile environment that the diving centres and scuba-divers are committed to preserving through a charter of best practices.
AN UNDERWATER TRAIL
Fun and accessible to all
In the Cerbère-Banyuls natural marine reserve ,the underwater trail leaves from Peyrefite beach. Open in July /August, this is the ideal spot to get to know the underwater environment while snorkeling: that's to say, swimming on the surface of the water with a mask, swimfins and a snorkel. You set off on a 500 m round trip, taking in 5 stations with information panels introducing 5 different ecosystems.
High-tech and fun, the FM snorkel is available to rentfor a swim with a commentary!
See the shipwrecks
Explore the history of the mythical boats along the coast: the Remorqueur, off the coast of Espiguette; Shigizan Marua Japanese ship that hit a mine in 1917 between Port-la-Nouvelle and Leucate; Le Planier,which sank in 1905, 300 m from the port of Sète. The Bananier, sunk by a British submarine in 1944 near Port-Vendres, is according to most visitors the finest of the local shipwrecks.
Explore the riches of the ecosystems of the Cerbère-Banyuls marine nature reserve at the Biodiversarium Aquarium in Banyuls-sur-Mer. A recently renovated historic site. Don't miss it!
How to get to the Mediterranean coast in Occitania
By car: the beaches are never more than 30 minutes from the A9 motorway exit between Nîmes and the Spanish border.
By plane: the airports in Nîmes, Montpellier, Béziers, Carcassonne and Perpignan have flights from and to many French and European cities.
By train or bus: Montpellier, Nîmes, Béziers and Perpignan have high-speed train services.