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If there is one Italian island where scuba diving is the no1 activity, it must be Ustica.

Inserted/Added by: lars, © Author: Lars Hemel

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Ustica is without doubt Italy's prime scuba destination, designated Parco Marino Regionale, Italy's first marine national park in 1986. Divided into three zones of conservation, Zone A being the most protected one where diving, swimming and boating is only allowed with a permit, up to Zone C that also allows fishing. Its underwater topology consists of mainly caves, caverns and canyons, but with the widest diversity of marine life one can find in the Mediterranean. You can spot shoals of sardines, a pack of barracudas waiting in the current for a bite or a huge mackerel almost touching you because of its curiosity. Swordfishes, turtles, tunas and black corals are other common sights underwater.

The tiny volcanic island of Ustica is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea at only 80 kilometers north of Palermo. It has a long history starting with Roman settlements in 300BC, it has been a hideaway for pirates, a penal colony and inhabited by the Bourbons. Its pitch black sand has named it the Black Pearl of the Mediterranean with picturesque bays, a scenic rugged shoreline, plenty of caves and stunning ocean views. Locals on the island are very friendly and it is easy to find a dive shops. There are natural rock pools near Spalmatore, a walk into town will show you the Torre di Santa Maria (Tower of St. Mary), you can walk up to Guardia di Mezzo at 248m high or visit the remains of the Bourbon fortress Rocca della Falconiera fort. Ustica is a relaxed place to be with superb scuba diving and impressive marine life.

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