Dive Site: Zenobia Wreck
Location: Larnaca, Cyprus
Length: 174 meters
Depth: 18 – 42 meters
The Zenobia wreck is one of the top wreck dives on the planet, originally a roll on-roll off (RO-RO) ferry, not unlike the ferries that service the Dover-Calais route between the UK and France.
She sank in 42 meters of water in Larnaca, Cyprus on her maiden voyage in June, 1980 after departing from Malmo, Sweden. Her final destination was Tartous, Syria but she never made it; after just a short while at sea her captain noticed severe steering problems. Investigations showed that the ballast tanks on the port side were filling with water, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.
The Zenobia actually made it into Larnaca Marina, but the risk of not being able to repair the problem in time and having a huge ferry trapped in a relatively small harbor was too great. She was moved out to sea, and went down to her final resting place 1.5km off the coast on 7th June at 2.30am.
Although the loss of property was huge (estimated at 20 million pounds for the ship itself plus the 200 million pounds of cargo on board) the revenue that this metal giant provides through scuba diving is estimated at over 25 million Euros per year to the tourist industry. This shows you just how great she is – almost all certified divers will visit her at least once… and many return year after year to explore another section of her.
Why is she my favorite dive of all time?
The answer is simple. The sheer size of the Zenobia takes your breath away. She is over 174 meters long from bow to stern. It takes two long dives to cover just the outside of it in any detail. Lying on her port side the shallowest part is in 18 meters of water and goes all the way down to 42 meters. Wow!
The 24 meters of width become the divers’ paradise. With 4 cargo decks and the promise that no salvage has taken place, this wreck would take over 100 dives to see everything. She was carrying 104 18-wheeler trucks when she went down (and one blue car – the captain’s little blue Lada) which were all shackled in place.
The diver can see each lorry and then look at what each was carrying; one of my favorite features is the spilled cargo of eggs which still lies at 42 meters in the sand. It is strange to see a 30-year-old egg still intact. In fact, there are even places that have still not been entered by a human in that length of time – and that is exciting stuff for the experienced diver, trust me!
But, there really is something for everyone. Every level of diver, from new divers to the most advanced technical diver, has something to explore. PADI Open Water Divers can dive to a maximum of 18 meters, and so the Zenobia is even accessible to entry-level enthusiasts – this is very unusual for a wreck dive like this.
So there you have it. My top 3 dive sites within the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. It was hard to narrow my favorite dive sites to just three, because there are so many fabulous sites to choose from! Some other favorites of mine include:
- Thistlegorm wreck, Egypt
- Dunraven Wreck , Egypt
- Canyon, Dahab, Egypt
- The Caves, Cyprus
I could go on forever, but this blog must have limits! I hope you have enjoyed reading it. What are some of your favorites? I would love to hear from you!
Alexandra Dimitriou-Engeler is a PADI Dive Center owner in Agia Napa, Cyprus. She became a diver in 1992 and received her bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at Plymouth University in 2003. Her love of the ocean has always been her driving force, and this has led to the natural progression of becoming a diving instructor in 2005. She is currently a PADI staff instructor and owner of Scuba Monkey Ltd and is writing a series of guest blogs for PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa.