MENTION the name San Remo and people often think of the tourist town on the Italian Rivera. Others might think fishing boats and the gateway to Philip Island. For a select group of people it offers diving opportunities. I first discovered San Remo pier while reading the book Shore Dives of Victoria by Ian Lewis, back in 2010. It’s a book that I always have with me and refer to. Out of the 120 dives in Ian’s book, I’ve done 45.
San Remo is not for the novice. My first dives were not always successful, and I’ve had many disappointing trips. It was in those short dives that I realised it was a site that could be explored every day and you would still not see all it had to offer.
More than five years later, having moved interstate and then back home, San Remo was still on my radar. I was on the lookout for some divers to come and join me and start exploring this amazing site. From all the dives I have done to date, I would say I have only scratched the surface of what is there.
In late 2015 I had some interest from Luke and his dive buddy to come and try San Remo. A whole new dive site was exciting for all of us, especially for the newcomers. From past experience, I knew how to assess the conditions at San Remo, but I guess it was hard for the new divers to get their heads around why they needed to be there two hours prior to high tide for a pier dive. We met at the carpark as scheduled, went straight down to the pier to observe the water conditions, then back to gear up to get ready to jump in.
While we waited on the pier for the window of opportunity, it was a good time to give a dive brief, and the many things we might encounter. Large bull rays, various types of Nudis and seashores plus a whole range of other marine life.
The key to diving at San Remo is knowing when to get in to achieve a reasonable dive time. When they say the tides move fast, they really mean it. With an average slack water of 10 minutes, dive plans need to be rigid. I had tested the conditions twice and it was time to get in, with not so long a wait on the pier.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day to dive or divers to dive with. As we approached along the outer pier, the bull rays were coming for a look. Visibility was around 10-15 metres and I could see the new members were getting a real buzz. As we approached the northern end of the outer pier, I was on the lookout for sea spiders in a certain area where I have always found them.
From the outer pier I guided us over to the inner pier, another dive in itself. While it is much shallower, when timed right you can get another 30 minutes. While I was keeping a firm eye on my divers, they were busy filming and taking snaps (kids in a candy shop) of various nudibranchs and seashores.
As with any dive, the time to ascend depends on your depth and redundant air supply. At San Remo pier, when the tide changes you need to be exiting. As planned, we exited on the sand bar in front of the carpark. This would have to be one of the best exits. You walk no more than 30 metres to the steps and there are showers to pre-rinse your gear. Depending where you park, you might have to walk another 30 metres. At the surface there were smiles all round. We had got a dive time of 68 minutes. Yep, I think I had just sold diving at San Remo, and got one dive off their bucket list.
Over the next months, more divers discovered the pier. We took small groups at a time to ensure new divers could be supervised and get a good understanding of the area. As it progressed, a nice group of safe curious divers developed. With many more encounters, and finding amazing sponges and new areas to explore, it just gets more addictive to dive and find unexplored areas.
We have been fortunate to explore the hole with depths over 24 metres on a shore dive. The outer pier depth can be up to 12 metres, while the outer channel can be explored at around the 16 metre mark. The inner pier is at five metres maximum which gives a nice end to the dive.
I highly recommend diving with experienced divers when first diving the pier. It is a site any seasoned diver will master through patience and persistence.
Photos by David Haintz were taken on a Canon 7D with Nimar Housing.