The Black Sea, in the Republic of Bulgaria, reveals ancient hidden wonders for visiting divers. The brackish water provides perfect conditions for the preservation of wrecks from all ages. Historical artifacts, dating as far back as 3000 years, have been found by divers. Ships litter the Black Sea - remnants from the many wars fought in this area. Dive sites are suitable for all levels of certification, making the Black Sea an accessible and interesting scuba diving destination.
Bulgaria, situated on the eastern Balkan Peninsula, is bordered by five countries - Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania. Gorgeous beaches and busy towns stretch along the 354km of prime coastline that meet the Black Sea in the east. The major cities along the coast are Varna in the north and Burgas in the south - separated by the Balkan Mountains. There are many suburban resorts close to the beaches and airports; Golden Sands is a favorite with visitors, due to its scenic landscape and lively atmosphere. Albena, Sunny Beach, St. Helena, and St. Konstantin are other popular beachfront areas.
Varna is a very popular center of tourism for both land and marine activities. Sources of thermal mineral water are abundant; sulphuric spas and swimming pools line the white sand beaches, and the waterfront promenade is well known for its clubs and music scene. Naval and archaeological museums detail the fascinating history of the Black Sea for visiting divers. Other activities include golf, horse riding, hiking, and cycling.
The Black Sea is an amazing independent eco-system. It is comprised of a salt-water layer that starts at a depth of 200m, and reaches down to 2000m. This cold, dense layer is completely anoxic (oxygen free) creating an inhospitable terrain for living creatures. On the surface, the Black Sea is fed by numerous rivers creating an upper layer of water with a saline content of only 16% - distinctly non-salty when compared to the ocean. Marine life is varied at this depth, and found down to 50m.
A top dive site to explore is the submerged ancient Roman port, outside of Varna. Another highlight for divers is the scuttled German Black Sea Fleet - sunk during the Second World War, along with five Russian submarines. Natural underwater features such as caves and pinnacles are also of interest to fun divers. Shallow shore dives along the coast provide the opportunity to find some of the local marine life such as sea horses, scorpion fish, and turbot.
Bulgaria's expansive maritime history has provided divers with many interesting underwater archaeological sites and wrecks to explore. The majority of the wrecks rest on the seabed between the recreational depths of 15m - 40m. Scuba diving certification above Open Water Diver level is recommended; previous wreck diving experience would also be a benefit. This would allow a wider range of dive sites to be visited on guided fun diving tours.
Water temperature during summer months averages 22 - 24 Celsius. Wetsuits from 5mm - 7mm are recommended; however, dry suits give the best option of adequate thermal protection. In the winter months it gets a lot colder and dry suits are definitely advised.
One of the most interesting historical sites is the Roman sunken port, located 40km outside of Varna. At a shallow depth of 12m, it is suitable for novice divers. On land, previously excavated Thracian tombs surround the dive site, and there are stories of Alexander the Great's treasure being buried in this area.
Marine life in the Black Sea is not prolific, but interesting when found. Seahorses, pipefish, and scorpion fish are interesting creatures that reside in the shallows. Mackerel, turbot, thornback skate, piked dogfish, and stingrays can also be observed. Luckily, the Black Sea is the final resting place for hundreds of sunken wrecks, ranging from merchant vessels to steamships, the ex-communist leader's airliner, and the remains of the German Black Sea Fleet.
The Mopang is an American cargo steamship, lying on its starboard side between 22m - 32 meters. The wreck is in very good condition apart from the bow section; this took the brunt of an explosion. The cargo of boots and spare parts are visible in the hold, and some of the cabins are accessible to trained divers. The wreck rises 10m off the seabed and the superstructure is impressive.
The Soviet WWII submarines were deployed to disrupt German communication in the area. There were five recorded missing in total, but only four have been found and identified. They lay at depths ranging from 25m to 75m. The SHT-210 sunk in front of Cape Shabla in March 1942, from damage thought to be caused by a mine fence - 47 sailors were lost. The SHT-211 claimed 44 lives upon sinking, and was split into two sections in 22m of water, east of Varna. The SHT-204 was detected by a trawler in 1989, and lies south of Varna. More unusual is the L-24, which was commissioned as a mine-laying submarine, finally to be destroyed by a torpedo in 1942. Sadly, the entire crew of 57 was killed. Still outstanding is the C-34; to date it has not been formally identified. Divers should note that these wrecks are war graves and should be dived accordingly.
Bulgaria has seven registered PADI dive operators that are spread out along the coastline of the Black Sea. Some dive centers are based in more than one location, and are also represented at host resorts. It is advisable to contact your chosen dive operator to make diving arrangements before you travel.
Black Sea Scuba is a popular IDA, CMAS, & BSAC affiliated dive center, that also offers PADI certification courses. They have bases in Sofia, Golden Sands in Varna, and Sunny Beach/Nessebar. Black Sea Scuba runs regular dive trips to a large range of the wrecks, and can accommodate groups of divers. Nitrox and equipment hire is available and technical diving is supported.
Also in Varna, is the well-reputed PADI resort called Barracuda. Set up in 1990 by Todor Markov, it has developed into a busy center offering the full range of PADI courses from beginner to dive master. Rental equipment, tank fills, and nitrox are available on site. Fun divers can choose from single, two or three-tank dive trips, with the option for night diving.
Nessebar in the south is home to Angel Divers - a PADI 5 Star Dive Center. Their focus is on high quality, safe certification courses for beginners, as well as offering diving tours to certified divers. They have an on-site custom swimming pool for PADI training with a unique viewing window. Their instructors can additionally teach a range of specialty courses including Enriched Air Nitrox and Tec 40.
Bulgaria has four international airports - Sofia (SOF), Burgas (BOJ), Varna (VAR), and Plovdiv (PDV). Railways are well developed throughout the country, with routes connecting all cities and highly populated towns; smaller trains service less accessible areas. The European Orient Express crosses Bulgaria. Hire vehicles are available, and express buses serve the major cities and towns.
Bulgaria has a temperate climate - influenced by its Mediterranean subtropical location and the Black Sea in the east. It is hot and sunny from May to October, with air temperatures reaching 28 Celsius; the winter is rainy and cold. The mountains offer great snow sport conditions from December through to March - air temperature averages 3 Celsius. Be advised of possible heavy snowfall, rain, and avalanches.
Fill in the Form Below.
Our hand picked regional partners will deliver no obligation quotes.