Cast your minds back, if you will, to July this year and there was some cautious optimism of Covid-19 cases and deaths dropping and the possibility of some holidays. It was at this point that I saw a very cheap flight to Corfu in October and thought it was worth a punt! Of course, by the time it came around it was a different story, but with Corfu still on the no quarantine list and 7 months of living and working in a small 1 bed flat, I was definitely ready to escape for a bit again!!
Getting there and accommodation
As mentioned, I was tempted by a cheap flight, just over £100 with Easyjet for flight, 23KG hold luggage and seat selection. I have to say, Gatwick was very quiet and easy to distance from people. I checked into the No.1 lounge and estimate probably only about 10 people in there at any time. All table service only and social distancing measures in place. Masks on apart from when sat down eating and drinking. Easyjet to their credit did all they could to ensure people were masked up, including warning people that if they fell asleep without a mask on they may be woken up and asked to put it back on. I actually saw them do this as well but thankfully everyone I saw was very good about keeping masks on. They were carrying out random PCR testing at Corfu airport on arrival according to the QR code you were given after filling out a passenger locator form before your departure from the UK.
I chose to stay in a self catering apartment as easier to distance from people and have a bit of space. I stayed at Manganas Studios run by Spiros and Sophia who were so lovely. Nothing fancy, but clean and comfortable and ideally located for everything http://manganas-studios.paleokastrit...-corfu.com/en/
View from my apartment terrace
Paleokastritsa is a very chilled little village with a few nice tavernas / bars / restaurants and only a 10 min walk (max) to the dive centre and lovely Agia Triada beach. As I was visiting right at the end of their season they were pretty quiet and distancing was easy. Everywhere I went was super friendly and the food was delicious!
I have a couple of friends who had previously dived with this centre and recommended it so I booked for 3 days diving with Achilleon Diving Centre https://diving-corfu.com/
The dive centre have a nice set up with rinse tanks / hose / shower and you can leave your kit hanging up there overnight. You can also hire gear and it looked in good nick. The team were all very friendly and welcoming and there was a great atmosphere with some friendly banter. Groups were split by ability and the guides (I was with Zoli) were great at pointing stuff out. The boats had plenty of room for kit and you get a bottle of water and a chocolate croissant in the surface interval if you want it. Typical schedule is meet at the dive centre at 10am and be back by about 2:30ish. Of course this is not coral reefs and massive amounts of biodiversity but there are really interesting rock and cavern formations and plenty of critters to spot if you know where to look (the guides do!). I saw nudibranchs, morays, octopus, barracuda, wrasse, groupers, lobsters etc. The water temp was 23/24 degrees and air temp about 24 degrees with some nice sunny spells. I did 6 different dive sites over my 3 days as follows:
Dive 1: Skeloudi Reef. Max depth 29m
A nice reef sheltered from the wind, visibility about 20m+ around rocky reefs and the island. Saw lots of wrasae of varying sizes and some nice nudibranchs
Dive 2: The Monastery. Max depth 27m
This dive site is full of caverns and swim throughs and interesting rock formations. The water was so blue and clear and it just felt great to explore. Really enjoyed this one.
Dive 3: Colovri. Max depth 27m
More caverns and exploring. The cavern walls are full of hundreds of shrimps which is quite funny to see when you shine your torch on them having a shrimp party
There are also shoals of barracuda here.
Dive 4: Donald's Place. Max depth 31m
Donald’s Place features a fantastic drop off and a cracked, crevassed wall where all kinds of colorful fish and moray eels peer out from the shelter of the tiny caves they call home. Saw some huge (live) conch shells here and octopus hiding in the rocks! Saw some nice lobsters too.
Dive 5: Aggelokastro Reef. Max depth 31m
This was another nice pootle around rocky reefs with more lobsters and nudibranchs.
Dive 6: Hole of Ha. Max depth 14m
"Hole of Ha is an easy cavern dive that goes inside a mountain. It has no roof, which means when you look upwards, you can see the trees that surround the hole in the mountain. The colors created by the sun hitting and streaming through the water will make this dive memorable. In addition to the fascinating mix of fresh and saltwater, you’ll also see stalactites, and fossilized conch shells in the cave."
A fantastic dive to end on. My photos don't do it justice at all but a really interesting site!
So, a lovely 3 days diving and some wonderful chilling on the beach and a much needed general relax. Would highly recommend this part of Corfu for a lovely, chilled holiday and some interesting diving