Research team use high-tech sensors to map behaviour of critically endangered angelsharks in Gran Canaria.

Angelshark check by divers in gran canaria

The team at Elasmocan, based on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands (Spain) have been studying the critically endangered population of European angelsharks (Squatina squatina) for over ten years.  Following on from previous successful projects, they have embarked on a new high-tech study to better understand angelshark behaviour and movement.

A scuba diver gets closer to study an angelshark

This study complements other ongoing investigations by Elasmocan, and has been developed to give a solid scientific basis for the conservation strategies of the local Special Conservation Areas (‘Zonas especial de conservacion’ or ZEC ) which make up the Natura 2000 network, and if successful can be applied in other species and areas of interest.

Angelshark check by divers in gran canaria
Scientists from Elasmocan check out an angelshark

Acoustic Telemetry Network

The research project “Monitoring network for the angelshark Squatina squatina in the ZEC Costa de Sardina del Norte: creating a knowledge base for its conservation”, is supported from the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecologic Transition and Demographic Challenge (Spanish Environment Ministry),  and the Loro Parque Fundación.  

The aim is to reveal new knowledge about the behaviour of these sharks. The information is collected via an array of hydrophones, anchored in the bay of Sardina, that record signals from small implanted transmitters on the angelsharks.

The conservation potential of the ZEC at Sardina del Norte for angelsharks will then be determined from their patterns of rest and movements within the area being monitored.Understanding the role of this ZEC in the species’ life cycle,   and determining achievable species’ conservation objectives involves, among other tasks, monitoring a larger number of individuals over a prolonged period. In addition, it is possible to locate individuals during special searches in case there is information that they left the study area.

Dr. Filip Osaer, project leader, highlighted the importance of this pioneering initiative, as it can reveal the movements of the individuals with a location and resolution so far not achieved in studies of angelsharks. It is therefore a promising method for the monitoring of angelsharks and other species of elasmobranch, and to evaluate aspects of the forces and pressures to which they are subjected.

In addition the angelsharks can also be detected by hydrophones that use a different signal protocol than the one from the present study. Thus, creating synergies with other projects that use equipment from a different manufacturer, and maximising the possibility to obtain information.

More about Elasmocan

Other research carried out by Elasmocan has included a study of sexual development and maturity, and a study of the DNA data of hundreds of tissue samples, which have then been compared with samples for populations in other parts of the world.

Davy Jones Diving have collaborated on earlier ‘citizen science’ projects helping collect detailed information on angelshark sightings for several years.  We hope that in the future the study will be replicated in El Cabrón (Arinaga) so that the movement data from different areas can be compared.

Which birds and animals live underwater in Gran Canaria?

The waters of Gran Canaria have more colour and bio-diversity than the land.

When you come to the Canaries to dive, you expect to see lots of marine life, but are there Birds or Animals that live under the sea? Sadly the Monk seals have been almost exterminated from the Canaries, and the marine mammals (whales and dolphins) are too far off-shore to dive with. If you are really lucky you may find a turtle, but encounters are rarely guaranteed.

Turtles are occasionally seen, but are these fish, mammals or reptiles ?

However, you can still look for tigers, zebras, leopards and several other birds and animals underwater – as there are many fish species that share their name with creatures we normally think of being above water! So yes we have tigers (Tiger morays – Enchelycore anatina), lizards (lizardfish – Synodus synodus), and squirrels (Black-bar squirrelfish – Myripristis jacobus). The birds are represented by parrots (Parrotfish – Sparisoma cretense) and eagles (eagle ray – Myliobatis aquila) while the insect kingdom has given us locusts, scorpions and bumblebees – the locust lobster (Scyllarus arctus) , scorpionfish ( Scorpaena maderensis) and spotted bumblebee shrimp (Gnathophyllum elegans).

So to help you see the ‘birds and animals’ that we find underwater, here are some photos and details, so that the next time you dive in the Arinaga marine reserve you will know where to look for the fish with animal names.


Tiger Moray diving gran canaria
Tiger moray being cleaned by shrimps (Enchelycore anatina)

Was the Tiger moray named after the spotted colouring on its body, or after it’s ferocious set of teeth? Either way this is always a ‘good spot’ because of its menacing appearance and bright colours. During the day you have to look into cracks and crevices or under big rocks to find them. At night they come out to hunt and you can encounter them in all parts of the Arinaga marine reserve.


Leopard Sea Slug in the Arinaga Marine Reserve
Diving Gran Canaria – Leopard Sea Slug (Peltodoris atromaculata)

There are actually two species named after leopards, and both are quite difficult to find as there are few individuals. First is the nudibranch ‘Leopard Sea Slug’ which can grow up to 10cm long. They feed on sponges so look on walls where there is abundant sponge growth. They are usually solitary but can sometimes be found in pairs.

Secondly we have the leopard spotted goby, about the same size. To find these you either need to look in the back of caves or search for them at night.

Leopard spotted goby, Arinaga, Gran canaria
Diving Gran Canaria – Leopard Sea Slug (Thorogobius ephippiatus)

Zebras and Horses

Zebra Bream, diving Gran Canaria
Zebra bream (Sargo breado)

You can see why this bream got it’s name! You will find them in most of the main diving areas, especially the Table Top, punta de los Sargos, and punta de la Monja. They can grow up to 55 cm in length making them one of the biggest bream in the Arinaga area.

Sea Horse Gran Canaria
Short-snouted Seahorse Gran Canaria – (Hippocampus hippocampus)

On the other hand, finding seahorses is much more difficult. Their small size and camouflage colours make them very difficult to spot. They usually live in the sea-grass, but may be found in a few special places with a bit of luck and a lot of searching!

Squirrels and Hogs

The black-bar squirrelfish ( Myripristis jacobus )

These are very rare in the Canaries as they are normally found either in the Carribean or on the West African coast. They tend to mix with Glass-eyes, as they are almost the same shape, and odd individuals can be seen in the Arinaga marine reserve. Look for them at the back of caves or under overhangs.

Photographers always look for the Barred Hogfish (Bodianus scrofa)

The female Barred Hogfish (above) is one of the most colourful fish in the Canary Islands. In the past it was also a prize target for spear fishing. Today spear fishing is not allowed in the marine reserve in Arinaga, and a small number of these shy individuals have returned. You need to watch carefully as they can easily be mistaken for a parrotfish.


male and female Parrotfish Arinaga Gran Canaria
Divers can see Parrotfish all around Gran Canaria (Sparisoma cretense)

The female parrotfish has probably the most striking colours in the Canaries and is a ‘signature’ fish for a Canary dive. However many divers do not realise that these females all change sex half way through their life, lose all their colour and become old grey males! We sometimes see the males fighting among each other to control the harem!

eagle ray gran canaria
You can see the Eagle ray (Myliobatis aquila) while diving Gran Canaria.

Look for the Eagle ray over the sandy areas, where it digs in the sand to find small molluscs, crustaceans and worms. When seen from below they look like a big white owl coming towards you. This species is very similar to the Bull ray, which has a much larger head, stripes across the back and longer tail.

Reptiles, Spiders and Insects

Other species in the Canaries who have re-used terrestrial names include the Frogfish, Sea Hares, Arrowhead Spider Crab, the Crocodile sand eel, Great Spider Crab, Snakelocks anemone and Jaguar round crab. To complete our selection today we have a reptile, and four insects.

Lizardfish eating scorpionfish, Gran Canaria
The Lizardfish (Synodus synodus)

Often well concealed or hidden in the sand, lizardfish are common throughout the Canary Islands. They have the ability to open their jaws 180º, and can sometimes be found with prey half-in and half-out of their mouths.

Butterfly ray in Arinaga, Gran Canaria (Gymnura altvela)
Butterfly ray in Arinaga, Gran Canaria (Gymnura altvela)

The spiny butterfly ray is one of the biggest rays in the Canary Islands by wing span. look for them in sandy areas where they sleep during the day, usually close to rocks. Just like butterflies it has a big wingspan, but the body area appears to be small, and the tail is very short.

Scorpionfish diving Arinaga Gran Canaria
Scorpionfish Gran Canaria (Scopeana madrerensis)

This is the smallest of three Scorpionfish, and has a series of poison spines, but is still pursued by trumpetfish, lizardfish (see above) and bigger bream such as sama. Look for them on rocky areas, in cracks and close to rocks. Once you start to find them you will see they have a wide distribution.

Small European locust lobster in Gran Canaria
Look for the Small European locust lobster (Scyllarus arctus) on night dives

These look at first as if they are immature cape lobsters, but are a completely different species and only grow to about 15cm max. They are called ‘locust’ because they jump several metres if discovered by a predator such as octopus. They are normally nocturnal but in one or two places have been seen during the day as well.

The spotted bumblebee shrimp (Gnathophyllum elegans)

This tiny little shrimp is another nocturnal species, just slightly bigger than a bumblebee. Look for them on walls and in cracks during night dives.

Did you enjoy the selection of ‘animals’ that you can see in the waters surrounding the Canary Islands? It will be our pleasure to show you some of them the next time you visit Gran Canaria.

Author – Brian Goldthorpe is a BSAC Advanced Instructor and a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with ‘Elite’ status. He has been diving in the Canary Islands since 2002 where he runs a scuba diving centre in Gran Canaria – Davy Jones Diving , where he shows guests around the El Cabrón Marine Reserve, just outside the town of Arinaga.

Remembering the Tragedy of the Valbanera – 100 years on

The Valbanera taking emigrants to the New World

100 years ago this week, a terrible accident occurred when the Valbanera, a steam ship taking migrants from Spain to the Americas, sank in a hurricane with the loss of nearly 500 lives, between Florida and it’s destination, Cuba.

The population of the Canaries were badly affected, as more than half of the passengers had boarded the Valbanera in either Las Palmas or Tenerife. Many families lost sons and daughters. The dreams of a new life in the Americas turned into despair for many in September 1919. It has been described as “Spain’s Titanic” .

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, and the Museo Elder in Las Palmas has held a series of events to remember the losses. Eduardo Vera, our lead diver and Instructor has been involved in some of these events, as he led a special expedition to the wreck in 1993.

The Tragedy of September 1919

The Valbanera was originally built in Glasgow in 1905 for the Pinillios line. It was 399 ft long and could carry nearly 1000 passenegers in 3 classes. By 1919 it had already crossed the Atlantic many times taking Spaniards to the New World.

It left Las Palmas in the middle of August 1919 and arrived at Santiago in the south-east of Cuba on the 6th September. When it arrived many of the passengers left ship, despite having paid to go to Havana. Some said that the conditions on board were very bad, some that the crossing had been rough, and more bad weather was forecast. These passengers continued the journey to Havana by land and escaped the mysterious tragedy that was about to happen.

Two days later the area was hit by an early hurricane, and during this frightening and uncontrolable storm , the Valbanera was blown onto the ‘Dry Tortugas’ shoals, near the Florida Keys, where it sank.

A major search was started as soon as the hurricane passed, but it took another ten days to locate the ship, which was found in an area of quicksands, 40 miles South of Key West, in water just 30 feet (10 metres) deep.

The ship was found with all the doors closed, all the windows and portholes shut, and all the lifeboats still on their davits. The Captain must have closed the ship down to weather the hurricane but in turn this trapped the estimated 488 passengers and crew inside. No survivors or bodies were ever found, so the final hours of the Valbanera will forever remain a mystery.

The Lucky Survivors

One group however did survive, and that was the group that left the boat in Santiago and made their way overland to Havana, or settled in the South of Cuba. Juan de la Gru Gonzalez Ponce was one of these. Born in 1899 in Gran Canaria he had already crossed the Atlantic once in 1915 when he was 16 years old, and had worked for two years cutting sugar cane on a farm. He decided to leave the ship in Santiago, and after the tragedy spent another four years working on the farms in Cuba. By 1921 he had saved enough money to return to Gran Canaria, and to buy a small Finca (farm) near Cardonnes in the Arucas district which grew bananas. Two years later he married, and they lived in this house and one in Las Pallmas till he passed away in 1980, one month before his 81st birthday. This was the story of Eduardo Vera’s Grandfather.

The Archaeological Expedition of 1996

In an attempt to find out more information about the wreck, and to verify the reports from seventy-three years earlier, the journalist Fernando J García persuaded the Archivo de los Indianos in Asturias to fund an expedition to the wreck.

Eduardo Vera was chosen as the lead Spanish diver as at that time he was one of the most respected divers in Gran Canaria, and had a personal connection with the wreck, as his grandfather was one of the group that left the wreck in Santiago, and made his way by land to Havana.

The group arrived in Key West, Florida in Febuary 1996, and carried out a series of dives on the Valbanera. Seventy-six years after the sinking, the ship had submerged into the sands, canting to the starboard side. They were able to confirm that the majority of the doors and port-holes were still closed, and spent about 8 hours over several dives exploring parts of the interior of the vessel. Diving in February it was during the coldest month for diving in that area.

Remembering the Valbanera.

This year has seen a series of commemorative acts based around the Museo Elder in Las Palmas, where the conditions inside the boat for emigrants have been recreated. Eduardo has been explaining how his team explored the remains of the Valbanera in 1996 and the conditions they encountered in several live events, and TV and press interviews. The exhibition runs till the end of this year. In addition a new book is due to be published in November which has all the details of this tragedy.

Historians always say that when you understand all the facts, we should see what we can learn from an event. Once again in 2019, a hurricane has taken the lives of many defenceless and poor people, only a few hundred miles from where the Valbanera lies today. One hundred years later the weather is still uncontrollable. People are still losing their lives as they are unable to get out of the path of a devastating storm, despite better prediction and monitoring.

And underlying the tragedy is another theme still on the agenda today … the trans-global migration of people trying to find a better life ‘somewhere else’. Is the fact that they bought tickets from a major shipping line so different from those who pay people smugglers today to follow new and more challenging migration routes?

This week Eduardo has been involved in several events and interviews related to the Centenary celebrations, including a TV Interview on TV Canarias. After that he will settle back into his normal rhythm, showing our guests at Davy Jones Diving his favourite dive site in Gran Canaria, the El Cabrón Marine Reserve.

Author – Brian Goldthorpe is a BSAC Advanced Instructor and a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with ‘Elite’ status. He has been diving in the Canary Islands since 2002 where he runs a diving centre in Gran Canaria – Davy Jones Diving , where in between his Radio, TV and Press appearances Eduardo also shows guests around the El Cabrón Marine Reserve.

Night Diving Gran Canaria – Five Tips for Stellar Dives.

Are you thinking about trying the dark side on your next diving holiday? .. and going night diving! For some it seems a risk too far.. an extra complication to deal with, while for the converts it can produce magical dives, meetings with strange nocturnal creatures, and a feeling of having witnessed something privileged or secret. Night brings out secretive and sometimes strongly coloured creatures like the White-spotted octopus (Octopus macropus) and many species behave differently between night and day.

I have been leading night dives for our guests for the last sixteen years and some of my favourite underwater discoveries and encounters have been on these dives in Gran Canaria, so here are my tips to help you enjoy your night dives even more.

divers for night diving canary islands

Five tips to get the most out of your holiday night dive

It is very easy to have a great night dive on your holiday, by following some simple steps and discover the changes from day to night underwater. We find that first timers, photo-journalists and professional photographers always love the unique variety of marine life and colours they find when they dive at night in Gran Canaria with us. We have even put together a night dive simulator so that you can see how with a narrow beam of light you see clearly the many strange and amazing creatures who come out at night.

This article assumes that you are diving on holiday with a professional diving centre, live-aboard team or professional dive instructor, who will show you their special place where they do night dives. It also assumes that you have had some basic night drive training or experience already and want to improve your enjoyment and fun on further night dives.

Angel Shark night diving canary islands
Meet an angel shark on your night dive

Tip 1 – Follow your best practices and don’t change much

In your preparation and during the dive just do it by the book! All the simple things we learn, and then sometimes relax about, should be done tonight!

Start with a careful preparation of your kit, new or charged batteries in both your torches and any cameras, and listen carefully to the briefing, good buddy check before the dive, stay close to your buddy, be aware of where the leader, other divers are, and monitor your air regularly. No surprises there… and don’t introduce too many changes to your normal kit. A night dive is not the place to check out a new BCD and suit, or to experiment with your weight, buoyancy or trim.

Tip 2 – Follow the local procedures

Different training agencies and dive centres all have variations on a theme for minor standards, so always follow the local protocols carefully. To avoid confusion for night dives most dive centres use simple local rules and common standards as it can be slower to work out who is who underwater.

For example we have several simple protocols/guidelines – you should always store your spare torch in the left-hand BCD pocket so everyone knows how to help you find your spare. We have our standard procedure for diver separation, and as you cannot do air signals easily with one hand, some simple local procedures when checking air. Finally we have a couple of simple ‘standards’ at the end of the dive – don’t put anything down on the ground (put it in our vehicle) and we have one special place (a big yellow box) for any small items such as cameras, computers, masks, gloves and hoods – so nothing gets lost or left behind in the dark.

Tip 3 – Slow down .. and relax into the dive!

If you take your time moving along a reef, or a wall, or even across a patch of sand, you will see all the strange creatures that come out at night with names like Atlantic dancing shrimp, European locust lobster, or my favourite, the spotted bumblebee shrimp! Your heart rate will slow and you will use less air, and you will have a fantastic long slow dive!

White spotted octopus night diving canary islands
The White spotted octopus is only seen when night diving in the canary islands

Tip 4 -Set your camera up carefully to get great photos

If you take your camera, make a few changes before you get in the water. As most pictures are close-ups at night I take off my dome port (which is for wide-angle) and set the camera to macro mode, as well as increasing the ASA to capture more light. If you have a flash experiment with new settings to get the best combination of sharpness and depth of field.

When you are underwater take care not to ‘blind’ the fish (they loose their night-vision) by shining your torch directly in their eyes, and limit the number of flashes per subject for the same reason.

Before you get in the water work out an important factor for your camera … where the light comes from for the autofocus! Most small compact/action cameras usually get around the problem of focus in low light by using a focusing lamp.. but this is often obscured by the camera housing or too weak to be able to focus on anything more than 30cm away.

If you have a strobe with a modelling light then that can give light on your subject, or you can use a weak video lamp which provides a flat even light and gets overpowered when you fire the strobe.

night diving gran canaria - Canarian Lobsterette
Canarian Lobsterette is found at night or in deep caves

Tip 5 – Get that buoyancy control spot on!

If there is one key skill to master for your night dive it is relaxed buoyancy control. During the day it is usually very easy to see if you are moving up and down by reference to the sea-floor or walls or other visible objects. However at night these visual clues are less visible, and you don’t want to be floating up and away from your group as it can lead to separation.

Just make small changes to your buoyancy, and stick close to the bottom or any wall you are following, and of course keep close to your buddy and use him or her as a reference for where you should be in the water.

night diving gran canaria
Sand smelt reflect the diver’s torch

Brian Goldthorpe is a BSAC Advanced Instructor and a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with ‘Elite’ status. He has been diving in the Canary Islands since 2002 where he runs a diving centre in Gran Canaria – Davy Jones Diving

Join the Vará de Pescao, Arinaga, in 2019

Vara de Pescao in Arinaga at the end of August each year

The ‘Vara de Pescao’ is the main event that happens in Arinaga at the end of August each year. It started many years ago as a celebration of the traditional fishing crafts in the town, but has now become one of the biggest parties on the island with up to 40,000 people joining the event.

The event happens on the last Friday of August each year, so this year (2019) it is on Friday 30th. There is an unofficial ‘dress code’ … the white shirt and blue jeans or trousers that the fishermen of Arinaga wore along with a straw hat! The literal translation is ‘the landing of the fish’.

It starts around mid afternoon with groups arriving in Arinaga, finding a place for a picnic, and by about 5.00pm the town is full of locals greeting each other and strolling around. At 6.00pm there is a ceremonial ‘landing of the sardines’ then at 7.00 a small procession of ‘boats’ make a procession along the Aveneida from Risco Verde, dispensing freshly cooked sardines.

Music at the Vara de PescaoThere will be people in local traditional dress, live music groups playing traditional songs, percussion groups pounding out their rhythmic beat and two DJ’s and a marching band. You get a real feel for the ‘community’ and may come across farmers with their animals as well as women carrying the fish in baskets on their head in the traditional style.

The finale is the firework display at about 11.15, over the bay of Arinaga. Be there a bit early to get a good place to watch. Because this is done over water you get a great view from anywhere along the promenade, and the show includes fireworks on the surface and spectacular reflections in the sea.

If you want to come and see the fiesta, then it is a ‘free’ event, but get here early to find a spot to park (follow the signs for local parking), and when you leave, expect to be breathalysed as the Guardia Civil impose a 100% testing policy! Remember .. blue trousers and white shirt to feel part of the event.

During the event, all the restaurants on the Aveneida close for normal meals and just offer a bar and take-away sandwiches. Away from the main areas you can still get food earlier in the evening. The first year that I lived here (2002), I was in the process of taking over my diving centre in Gran Canaria, and we found a small backstreet restaurant (Bar el Tomate), but every time they started the sound systems they blew the power for half the town and we had to have the meal by candlelight! Today the event is much better managed and power cuts are much less frequent here.

So don’t miss this once-a-year event where you can see our sleepy little town transform into the biggest party on Gran Canaria for just one day.

Can you keep SCUBA diving in the Canaries during a no-deal BREXIT?

Yes of course you can dive in the Canaries!  There is no reason to be worried about planning a diving holiday during the BREXIT uncertainty. 

Since the original exit date at the end March evaporated, the most likely outcome as we write(!) is a ‘dis-orderly departure’ of the United Kingdom from the EU, which will have almost no impact on the millions of holidaymakers who visit Spain from the UK every year.

For visitors to the Canary Islands from other parts of the EU we do not foresee any disruption, so these hints and tips are mainly for travellers from the United Kingdom .

Firstly, there seems to be a raft of ‘misinformation’ and scare stories, so I have tackled here some questions we have heard from guests who want to go diving in Gran Canaria. There are still many divers who want to come out from the UK to get a break, in the sun, especially in Autumn and Winter when most of the Mediterranean Resorts are closed.

Much of this advice is based on authoritative reports, but also on the experiences of customers during the ‘Ash Cloud’ crisis in 2010, when planes stopped flying.

I hope this will cut through the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), so you can travel happy and enjoy your diving in Gran Canaria and the other Canary Islands this year.

What happened during the Ash Cloud?

In April 2010, the eruption of a volcano in Iceland created the highest level of air traffic disruption since the second world war.  Many fears have been published that a ‘no-deal’ BREXIT could also leave pilots and planes without permission to fly, stranding British holidaymakers throughout Europe.

Relax and enjoy the sunshine if your flight is delayed

But when that happened in 2010, all the Tour Operators, such as TUI, Thomas Cook stepped up to the plate and arranged continued stays in hotels, and looked after their customers, taking some back home in chartered  cruise ships or by land.

So our first tip, is if you are worried about ‘being stranded’ by a sudden no-deal Brexit, book a package holiday with a major tour operator, in one of the bigger hotels.  They will then be there to help you and to make sure that any travel disruption is minimised, and at no extra cost.

And the ‘official position’ is that in March 2019 the EU and the UK agreed a reciprocal 12-month airspace access period in the event of no-deal, when “ for the 12-month period the UK intended to grant EU air carriers a level of access to the UK at least equivalent to the rights that would be granted to UK airlines under the EU’s regulation.“This includes traffic rights, ownership and control, leasing of aircraft, cooperative marketing arrangements and fair competition,” the transport department said.“. 

So even with a worst case of a no-deal BREXIT, UK flights will still come to the Canaries, and European carriers can still fly in and out of the UK.  

Do I need an International Diving Licence to dive after BREXIT?

Yes, this is in fact true … but you need one today, and you already have one!

The majority of recreational diving qualifications are NOT controlled by either the EU, or by national governments.  Your PADI, CMAS, NAUI or BSAC qualification has been issued by an independent body, and all have been approved as meeting the International Standard ISO 24801-2. 

We will accept any diver with a valid ISO qualification here to dive, in all cases (No-Brexit, No-Deal, transition period  or Smooth exit).  I am sure that other dive centres in Spain will be the same.
So our second tip is that if you are  worried that your PADI card does not specify this standard (or you have lost the card), then you can get a replacement card for about €45.00, or why not do that PADI Advanced or Speciality course you were thinking of, and get a new card which shows the ISO compatibility.

Can I still use my EHIC card for medical treatment during any transition period?

The answer here is more of a ‘yes and no’.  The European Health Insurance Card does cover basic medical costs when in Europe, but importantly, in Spain and some other countries it DOES NOT COVER HYPERBARIC TREATMENT.  In Spain the law requires all divers to have both diving medical insurance and ‘Responsibilidad Civil’, neither of which are covered by the EHIC card. 

Over the last few years I have seen more and more visitors travelling without any form of travel Insurance, and I have also heard about visitors who have had a (non-diving) accident, been treated free, but then had extra costs to pay for new flights or changes to hotels, all of which are normally covered by a good travel insurance policy.

Remember also that the EHIC card only covers treatment in the Spanish National Health service, where they do not always speak English, while if you have a travel insurance, you will be treated in a private clinic where there are more language experts.

So tip 3 is that both before and after any BREXIT, you should have a good travel Insurance policy, which covers diving, and in the event of any unfortunate accident such as a broken leg, you not only get good medical treatment, but great support from your insurer to get home without any extra problems.

Yes, I know insurance is boring and sensible, but there are plenty of good annual multi-trip policies available, including from diving specialists such as DAN and Divemaster Insurance, which will give you a comprehensive cover for a whole year at a good price.   If you just want to ‘top-up’ your cover for diving here we have daily, weekly ,monthly and annual policies available which cover any diving issues in Spain.


So to summarise my three tips, book a package of flight and hotel to somewhere familiar, where you have been before, and where the family will all feel comfortable. 
Check that you have your PADI card or equivalent before travelling, and double check that your travel insurance covers all the activities you want to enjoy on holiday, including Scuba Diving.
If you book your package to Gran Canaria (tip no 4?) then send me a message, let me know you are coming and I can arrange some dives in the El Cabrón Marine Reserve for you.