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Wreck diving in Tenerife

wreck diving in tenerife

Wrecks are ships or parts ther-of that have sunk by  accident or intentionally and here in Tenerife we have the opportunity to dive in several of these sites.

According to UNESCO “a wreck is not only the  cargo, but also the remains of a ship, its crew, its passengers and their lives.” That is to say, the historical and cultural remains found in its environment are also included in its definition, allowing not only the study of the structure of the sunken ship, but also knowing data about the history around it.

Sometimes nautical maps have been found on the wreck with which it has been possible to learn the history of the maritime route followed by the ship, as well as historical discoveries as a result of personal objects found.

Where can I see the wrecks in Tenerife?

The wrecks are part of the underwater cultural heritage ,and today we have the opportunity to explore these sites.

Below is a list of the 10 most famous wrecks in Tenerife:

1. El Penon – Tabaiba

El Peñón has a peculiar  history in the fact that the boat was sank on purpose to create an artifivial reef and promote marine life in the Tabaiba area.

Artificial reefs take place on many seabeds in the world. Sometimes they are created naturally due to  a ship or another platform sinking. or due to an intentional sinking. These wrecks are ideal for algae, invertebrates such as barnacles , corals and others living on the wreck which in turn attracts fish that come in search for food., 

The ship was active for 49 years in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, it was a tug that worked until 2006 when it was decided to be sank.

It seems that El Peñón was destined to end up at the bottom of the sea,  when the ship was fully operational it suffered two accidental sinkings two days in a row while trying to tow an English ship.

The initiative to sink the boat in the Tabaiba area was from the “El Pejin” diving club and the Canary Islands Government. The sinking took place in June 2006, and although it took around a year for life to begin to generate in the area, currently El Peñón has become the reference point on the island of Tenerife for diving among marine flora and fauna and wrecks .

The boat lies  32 meters deep, the dive is suitable for advanced open water divers or above.

2. El Condesito Punta Rasca

El Condesito ship tenerife

The sinking of this ship itself was the result of an accident. El Condesito was a cement ship that sank in the early 1970s in the Punta Rasca area when it hit the rocks on the coast. As a result of this famous sinking, the Rasca lighthouse was built to prevent the same thing from happening again with other boats in the area. In addition, the ship was sunk and  fragmented into several pieces.

More than 45 years have passed since the ship sank and it is currently in a state of deterioration that makes diving inside dangerous. However there is plenty of marine life around the area.

It is approximately 20 meters deep.

Some of the species that we can find in the Condesito’s sunken ship are: trumpet fish, red mullet, rascacios, catalufas, lizard fish, bogas, bream, fire worms, octopus, bicudas, etc.

3. Lolita Los Gigantes.

The Lolita wreck is found in the waters off Los Gigantes. It is a small fishing boat that sank in 2003.

Los Gigantes is situated in  a spectacular place in the northwest of the island famous for its immense volcanic cliffs, which are a reference site to visit.

Lolita was the typical Canarian fishing boat that you will see in all the ports and piers of the islands, made of wood and covered in bold colors. It is not surprising that one of the thousands of small boats that sail and fish there sank in the area Los Gigantes.

The sunken ship is about 20 meters deep. Unfortunately, being made of wood, its original structure has practically disappeared , but you can see all the fauna that has been created around it. Fish, crustaceans, rays or morays are some of the species that you can find.

Although there are no photos of “Lolita”, you can see many examples sat on the piers in and around the fishing villages.

4. El Meridian, Los Cristianos

The Meridian wreck is one of the best preserved sunken ships. It had been previously used in World War II as an auxiliary ship for maritime surveillance.

In 1973 it arrived in Tenerife and was used for many years as a whale watching boat, an amzing experience in itself in the waters of Tenerife.

In 2004 it sank in the waters of the Los Cristianos area

What we enjoy most about this wreck is that due to the dimensions and structure of the ship (with several masts and ropes) it is reminiscent of a real pirate ship.

In addition, in the area in which it is sunk you can see dolphins and sharks, apart from different species of fish and cetaceans.

5. El Buque de Nelson, Garachico

So far we have seen interesting and historic wrecks but Nelson’s ship is undoubtedly the one with the most important historical significance for Tenerife residents.

At the end of the 18th century the British empire  tried to conquer the island of Tenerife and it did so with Admiral Horacio Nelson in command of a naval operation with the aim of attacking the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The Canary Islands are situated in a  strategic place on the route to America, and therefore was of gteat intereste to the British.

Nelson had 9 ships, together they numbered more than 350 cannons, and a troop of 900 men. The Canarian  Militias were made up by locals from the island, but they also had a General who was known for his intelligence  and strategy, General Gutiérrez de Otero, in command.

The strategy of the Tenerife General was not to  allow the British to land on the coast, but to keep the ships at sea so that they were always in control of what was happening on land.

Despite apparently superior British troops, the attack ended with the loss of the right arm of Nelson the result of a  cannon ball, and the English troops surrendering.

Legend has it that General Gutiérrez sent Nelson a box of Tenerife wine with a note: “Admiral, that’s all it will take from here.”

The wrecks of Nelson’s ships have been located in several places, but in Tenerife we ​​have evidence that there are remains of the ships on the beaches of Garachico, in the north of the island.

6. El Carbonero, playa de las Gaviotas (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)

Carbonero wreck tenerife

El Carbonero is a wreck steeped in history. It is located off  the coast near Santa Cruz de Tenerife, specifically on Las Gaviotas beach, which is situated on the northeast of the island.

The ship sank at the beginning of the 20th century, specifically in 1916, during the First World War. The ship was British and had been captured by the German Navy, who, to prevent it from being recovered, put enough cargo on it and blew it up to sink it.

Since then it has sank to a depth of 30 meters, and although due to the time it has spent in the water its state is not very well preserved it is still an intereting wreck due to its historical significance.

7. Airplane  Douglas DC-3, El Sauzal

Not only have ships been sunk in our waters , we can also find parts of an airplane that crashed after an accident in 1966 in the waters of El Sauzal.

The Douglas DC-3 plane from  the company Spantax, made the Tenerife – La Palma route, leaving Los Rodeos airport.

Only three minutes after taking off the plane began  to suffer from too much power to one of its propellers. The pilot made an emergency landing on the water and the plane stayed afloat long enough for all passengers and crew to be safely rescued.

The passenger cabin was completely buried in the sand and if you are going to dive you will not be able to access it, but you will be able to see the engines with the propellers, the landing gear complete with tires and hydraulics as well as the wings.

8. El Tinerfe, Güimar

Boat sunk in 1862. The curious thing is that it was not until 2017 that a diver found the wreck on the Güimar coast.

The sinking of the Tinerfe was news at the time and has been one of the most serious maritime accidents in the history of the Canary Islands. The ship was carrying chasneras slabs, which are typical of the Canary Islands and are special because of their resemblance to natural stone, and various fruits. In addition there were also 35 passengers on board which were all deceased. On the day of the sinking, it left the port of El Médano, towards the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

It is believed that the reason for the sinking was that the ship was overloaded and could not withstand the sea conditions of that time.

This wreck is located in an area with very dangerous currents, which is why not even the most experienced divers usually go, note that its location could not be confirmed until after 158 years.

9. Los Gemelos, Adeje

The Twins’ wreck is also intentionally created. Its name is due to the fact that there are two ships that sank.

They are also found in the south of the island, in the waters off the beach of Puerto Colón, in Adeje. It is one of the tourist areas par excellence on the island of Tenerife.

They are situated approximately 20 metres deep. Around the wrecks we can find various marine life.

10. El Coronel, Puerto de la Cruz

This sunken ship is located in the north of Tenerife, in Punta Brava in Puerto de la Cruz. The climate and currents in the north are harsher than in the south and this has made deteriorated , despite the fact that it sank relatively recently, in 2003.

It is not a dive usually undertaken but for its history we give it a mention..

The Colonel was a Russian fishing boat of 25 meters in length and 100 tons, which at the time of the sinking belonged to the company Celso Fariña, S.L., a boat that was active.

The boat when it sank was at anchor, that is to say mooring the boat by means of a rope using an anchor, about 200 meters from the coast of Puerto de la Cruz. In it were crews and divers who luckily were not injured.

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