Diving in Leros' crystal clear waters

The island of Leros located in the southeastern Aegean in the Dodecanese chain, between Kalymnos and Leipsi islands, is a slow-paced tranquil place with a turbulent and fascinating past. As the island with the most military wrecks in the world, after Normandy, its seabed is strewn with numerous carcasses of warships and World War II fighter jets, serving as grim reminders of a dark period of humanity, and bearing witness to the fierce battles for dominance in the Aegean in the first half of the 1940s.
These "seabed exhibits" have turned this picturesque Greek island into a top diving destination. In fact, Leros earned an honorary mention in the prestigious German travel magazine "Tauchen Magazin", which refers to it as the "Mecca of Shipwrecks".

A free museum for everyone at the bottom of the sea

The answer as to why so many shipwrecks were found on Leros’ seabed dates back to the autumn of 1943. Having already captured nearby Rhodes and Kos islands, the German forces decided to occupy Leros too, which was under the control of the Allies. With coordinated airstrikes, the Nazi forces occupied the island after fierce battles that lasted four days. This was to be the last victory of the Axis over Allied forces until the end of World War II.
This significant historic battle left in its wake scores of wrecks scattered on the seabed of Leros turning it into a favourite destination for diving enthusiasts from Greece and abroad.

A journey through time, a lesson in world history

Of the nine shipwrecks that are found in the Dodecanese, eight are located in the waters of Leros (the remaining one is in the neighbouring Telendos’ island seabed).

Take a look below at what you can see while scuba diving around Leros:

Vasilissa Olga (Queen Olga) Destroyer
It sank on September 26, 1943 in Lakki of Leros following an air strike during an Luftwaffe raid. The warship is located at a depth of 40 metres.

• German amphibious type "H"
It sank on November 12, 1943, northeast of Strongyli islet off Leros, after coming under artillery fire from the PL 888 battery on Blefouti hill. The shipwreck is located at a depth of 12 to 20 metres.

• German Junkers 52 aircraft
It was hit by allied fire on November 13, 1943. It is a three-engine aircraft with a fuselage length of 18.90 metres and a wingspan of 29 metres. The plane was carrying German paratroopers and was hit after they were dropped on Rachi hill. It crashed into the sea northeast of Leros and lies at a depth of 51 metres.

• German aircraft Arado Ar 196
It is located east of Cape Mavros Kavos and was dragged there by fishing vessel nets. A warplane which divers can inspect at a depth of 20 metres.

• German aircraft Heinkel 111
Situated northwest of Blefouti Bay. It was dragged there by fishing boat nets and is located at a depth of 16 metres.

• Cargo ship
Sunk in September 1943 in Partheni bay north of Leros by a German aircraft torpedo. It lies at a depth of 43 metres, northwest of Cape Korai.

• Italian barge
A launching vessel of a metal anti-submarine protection network at the port of Lakki. It sank in September or October 1943 and lies at a depth of 41 metres.

• American amphibious vehicle warship
It has not been identified nor have the conditions under which it sank in the area of ​​Lakki. It was made in the US and obviously part of aid to post-war Greece in the context of the Truman doctrine. It is located at a depth of 40 metres.

Diving for everyone, even the inexperienced

A closer look at these underwater monuments is not reserved only for experienced divers, but for beginners as well, who wish to see this underwater museum. A diving centre in the island’s capital, Agia Marina, offers scuba diving lessons. Learn all about scuba diving equipment and how to use it properly. Practice while supervised in shallow waters. This will ensure that even if it is your first attempt you will gradually get the hang of the techniques necessary to move smoothly underwater using diving air tanks. The whole process takes 2.5 hours, at the end of which you will feel ready and confident to have your first supervised scuba dive experience.

Apart from taking a look at the historical treasures on the seabed of Leros, you will be able to admire sea creatures such as seals, sperm whales, dolphins and sea turtles, as well as Posidonia Oceanica meadows (Mediterranean tapeweed, a seagrass species that is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea), corals, as well as numerous caves. The duration of the dive ranges between 30 and 35 minutes, depending on the oxygen consumption of each diver. This experience will no doubt remain etched in your memory.