Not a lot of people have heard of Almuñecar, and I hadn’t either. I decided to take a trip here specifically to find a certain species of fish called the Mola mola or commonly known as the sunfish. These things get to be enormous in size and are quite the site to see if you can get lucky enough to encounter one. Unfortunately I did not get lucky enough. I thought I did the appropriate amount of research to try to find some, but I’ll just have to keep searching. I found out that not a lot is known about the Mola mola, but are sometimes spotted in the Alborean Sea in the warm months.
I contacted a few dive shops in the area, but only one contacted me back, so naturally it was the one I went with. The name of the shop is Scubasur Almuñecar Dive Center. One thing that I love about diving is the people that are associated with it. They are always so friendly and all have one thing in common, to have great dives. This dive shop was no exception. Being in a more rural area, English was not as common as it would’ve been in a bigger city, but we made it by. Some of my high school Spanish started to come back too.
One great thing that this shop offered that most other shops don’t was a night dive every single night. If you know anything about me is that I love night diving. I actually prefer it over day diving due to a whole different range of species coming out that aren’t seen during the day. Kristen and I started off with a night dive that went absolutely fine for us, but not so well for the other divers and instructors/divemasters. They were watching two new divers that had not done a night dive before. One almost got lost and another almost ran out of air. They called the dive after about 40 minutes. Not a bad amount of time for a night dive, but obviously when I have 110bar left, I would prefer to stay underwater.
When we got to the surface, I could tell the instructor was stressed out, but couldn’t exactly make out what he was trying to say. He said something along the lines of “if you don’t follow the rules, I will end the dive.” I thought he was talking about Kristen and I initially. I felt really bad at first and tried to think of what Kristen and I did wrong. It turns out that the problem was the other two guys and not us. Needless to say, we were relieved because we had a whole week of diving with the same shop ahead of us and didn’t want to start off on a bad foot.
The next day was our first day dive. Kristen and I were surprised to see that everyone was gearing up (hood and gloves) much more than we intended, but the reason didn’t click until we made it out to the site. I am not even exaggerating, but there were over 100 jellyfish around the boat. It made sense why people were putting gloves and a hood on. I typically always dive with a hood, but never gloves so as soon as I jumped in the water I kept my hands out of the water not to get stung. Kristen was not as fortunate as myself and got immediately stung and had a mark on her finger for the next few days. After we descended to about 5m, there weren’t nearly as many as on the surface.
During our safety stop I was also the victim of a jellyfish. We were just sitting at around 5m when I looked at Kristen and she was giving me this death stare and pointed to my throat. I didn’t know what she was talking about until I reached with my hand to my throat and was immediately met by a ferocious jelly. It goes without saying that I did not finish my safety stop and swiftly exited the water. Our next purchase were some neoprene gloves to ensure that would not happen again.
Overall the diving for the next few days was fair. Apparently we came at a bad time in terms of visibility; it was only around 10m when normally it easily exceeded 20m. It wasn’t so bad though, because I am used to diving in crappy German lakes where 5m visibility is a good day. Kristen was able to stay for the next 4 days while I stayed for an entire week. I always have to get my diving fix in during the summer, because no one wants to go in the winter.
I did meet a few very nice people on the trip. One guy, Norman, owned an ice cream shop in the local area called Gelatolia, but came just about every day. It was funny because we were paired as dive buddies on the days that my wife didn’t come and after a few times of being paired up we looked down at our gear and we literally had the exact same gear except BCD. Literally everything was the same: mask, first stage, second stage, octopus, hood, and wetsuit. He looked at me and said “brother!” We had a good laugh. It turns out he was also from Germany, but had lived in Spain for the past 13 years or so.
THINGS I LEARNED
1. I need to learn MUCH more about my photography equipment. There are so many different settings on my strobe let alone my camera that I have no idea about. A formal class is definitely in my near future.
2. Invest in a macro lens/diopter. Especially if the visibility is bad, it makes much more sense to shoot something close so you aren’t as affected. I ran into a fellow photographer on the trip and his pictures turned out very, very good.
3. Be sure to ask about the aquatic life in the area. I think this goes without saying. Jellyfish will get the best of you. Although it probably should’ve been covered in the dive brief, it doesn’t hurt to ask what you will potentially encounter.
4. I WANT TO LIVE IN SPAIN. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Spain is my favorite country that I have encountered thus far. The atmosphere, the people, the food, the culture… everything is great. I have asked a few people about living in Spain and they say the quality of life isn’t great if you actually have to work there and on top of that there is a high unemployment rate. I’m sure it is quite different when you are actually living there instead of just visiting on holiday.