Mero Diving Center in Garajau
Placed right at the edge of a nature reserve where no fisher boats are allowed to go, the Mero Diving Center is the perfect location for a diving adventure in Madeira. The staff is friendly, the equipment is up to date and the prices amazing.
“A couple of minutes later you are submerged between 14 and 18 Meters (45-60 Feet)”
Diving in Garajau
Garajau is a small lovely village roughly 10 km east of Funchal. It is famous for its Jesus Statue that overlooks the Atlantic ocean. Apparently one of the oldest ones in existence. But there is also another lesser-known attraction. A beach, most of the time only accessible with a small cable car (2,00 € each way), or if you are lucky you can drive down with your car. The road is very narrow though and in a lot of spots two cars, can’t really pass. Also, be aware of falling rocks.
At first glance, the place doesn’t look at much. There are only two buildings. The first is the Restaurant “O Mero” and the second one is the Mero Diving Center. To be fair, you might not really call it a “building”. The diving center itself is built into a cave. It looks much smaller from the outside. But don’t be fooled. It’s much bigger than you might think.
Carlos the lovely Boss
Carlos Marques is the owner and main diving instructor of Mero Diving Center. With his over 4000! dives you know you are in very safe hands. He has been diving all his life all over the world and therefore he has seen and done it all when it comes to diving. Since I haven’t been diving for 3 or 4 years I decided to do a refreshing dive with him.
Right from the beginning, I felt I was in very professional hands. Carlos explained the whole dive and everything I had to know about it. He took his time to answer all my questions in had. He is very patient and explains in detail all you need to know in Portuguese. For the English-speaking divers, he has a very lovely assistant Carlota. Together they make a very great time.
The Diving Experience
As already mentioned, the diving center Mero is right at the edge of a natural reserve. This comes in very handy. Although the waters around Madeira are already very clear it seems that especially in that area the water is even clearer which gives perfect visibility.
The second advantage is, that because no fisher boats are allowed there, you have an abundance of different fish. Some as big as 1,5 Meters!
After getting into the wetsuit (hey it’s still the Atlantic ocean) and gearing up you basically walk over the beach into the water. So it’s not a jump from a boat. A couple of minutes later you are submerged between 14 and 18 Meters (45-60 Feet).
A myriad of fish and other sealife
Only a short time after you are already surrounded by lots and lots of different fish. They seem to be very relaxed and enjoy swimming with the divers. Of course, Carlos knows where to find the biggest and most impressive fish.
He leads us to a kind of underwater table stone and places a sea urchin on top of it. The second he smashes it with a stone a very big fish called grouper approached. It’s dinner time and as big as he is, you know he is hungry. The cool thing is that you can pet them while they are feasting.
Carlota even showed us that you could put your whole hand into its mouth.
Since the whole island is volcanic it comes with no surprise that the whole underwater landscape looks like a place you would find on the moon or Mars. It really is a breathtaking view and time just flies by while exploring the huge boulders covered in sealife or the little underwater caves.
And as soon as the dive began you realize that it is already over and that you are back on the beach. Still wondering about all the stuff that you have just witnessed.
If you are into diving, then you should definitely check out this amazing place. You will not regret it.
Peninsula São Lourenço Hike
Close by is a wonderful Hike to the most eastern point of Madeira Island. And with some luck you even can spot Porto Santo.