Diving on the Isuela Shoal

One of the most beautiful and fascinating dives in the Mediterranean Sea, in front of Punta Chiappa, in the Marine Protected Area of ​​Portofino. A shoal full of underwater life. Ideal for the deep certified diver. It is the dive on the Isuela Shoal.


Many months have passed since the last time I wrote a story about an underwater dive in the Marine Protected Area of ​​Portofino.

It is my sea of ​​adoption, in which I immersed myself for the first time, in which I usually dive.

It is not a good time for the Gulf of Tigullio. A couple of weeks ago hell broke loose. Gusts of wind over 150 kilometers per hour and waves over 10 meters high destroyed ports and roads. The Gulf of Rapallo is a cemetery of boats sunk or lying against the rocks and on the piers of what is left of the Carlo Riva port. The small seaside village of San Michele di Pagana has been completely scourged and the small shops are now encrusted with mud and slime. Punta Pedale beach has been completely sucked into the sea, Portofino can only be reached by sea. Some diving centers have suffered incalculable damage.

Today, in honor of it, I want to tell you about the most beautiful dive: the dive on the Secca dell’Isuela.

A bit of old stories

I will have immersed myself in it a hundred times.

The first was at least twenty years ago. I went there with the group of divers who attended the club where I was certified. As often happens, there was a little current. One of us, armed with a weight belt similar to a Kalashnikov cartridge belt, listened so little to our instructor’s recommendations that he sank at the speed of light. He found himself catapulted onto the sand 50 meters deep. He inflated the BCD and returned to the surface. The boatman recovered it in the middle of the sea. I learned about it when the dive was over. While on the dinghy our instructor yelled at him cursing.

Here, my two fellow CMAS instructors and I celebrated our promotion. We walked around for an hour between the Isuela and the Isuelina and, during the decompression, we uncorked and drank three mini prosecco that we had put in the pocket of our BCDs.

Once I went there with a student of mine who was attending the course to become a Divemaster. I gave her the task of leading the group of four or five divers. She swam so fast that after a quarter of an hour we were again near the base on which the buoy is moored.

Five or six years ago, it was early summer, I met so many sunfish that that night I dreamed of them.

The last time I was there at the end of August, with Giorgio and the rebreather. We were more than an hour over 40 meters deep. We first went to the little sister, Isuelina, and then to the Grotta dei Gamberi.

Wonderful!! All the time!!

The story of the dive on the Isuela Shoal

It is called this because in the Ligurian dialect it means islet. We are at the western end of the Portofino Promontory, off the coast of Punta Chiappa. Beyond its flat rock slab you can find the charming village of Camogli.

I descended along the buoy chain to land on the top of the shoal, at a depth of 15 meters. I passed it quickly, immediately searched for depth and continued following the wall facing west, kicking counterclockwise. The landscape always leaves me breathless. Expanses of large fans of red gorgonians swing to the rhythm of the current. The rock features many vertical cuts which are populated with beautiful red coral branches.

I reached the area where the rock ends, extinguishing itself on the very fine sand. On the branches of the gorgonians some catshark have tied their eggs. They live in the burrows of the nearby Shrimp Cave but choose the Isuela gorgonians to develop their eggs.

Continuing a little, in front of me there was another panettone, much smaller. It is the younger sister, the Isuelina. It is also covered with gorgonians.

While circumnavigating, I rosese in altitude to arrive in an area where the rock forms a sort of dome dominated by the intense yellow of the octopuses of the sea daisies.

I went up again, the red gorgonians had given way to the yellow ones.

On my right, schools of snapper and lonely sea bream were swimming against the current alternating pauses with furious attacks. A little further up a vortex of barracudas lead me to the starting point.

I went back to the vast hat. It deserves a thorough search. If you are looking for an example of a Mediterranean aquarium, here you will find everything. Large groupers, conger eels, moray eels peeking out of their burrows and clouds of silver bream that adorn the environment.

I went back up, decompressed near the chain (remember that there is often current) and went back to the surface.

It was sunset time. The day was clear, with little humidity. I saw the whole west coast and the gulf of Genoa. While the sun was going down slowly and inexorably behind Capo Noli.

And yes … because I did the dive on the Isuela Shoal a lot of times at dusk. For the diving centers of Santa Margherita and Rapallo it is the furthest point. At that time you can go there without rushing, because it is the last outing of the day. And then, sometimes, we cannot say no to a glass of prosecco with focaccia or a slightly wider loop to look for some dolphins.

And, I can guarantee to you, it’s a great way to end a day at the beach.



Potrebbero anche interessarti questi miei racconti di immersioni nell’Area marina Protetta di Portofino

Immersione a Portofino: Secca Carega

Immersione al Faro di Portofino

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