Located off the European beaten path, Albania is a Mediterranean destination that is still little known. Yet it has everything to seduce beach lovers – and snorkelers. Its sunny coasts hide like so many treasures dozens of small rocky coves with crystal clear waters, where exploring the seabed is child's play. Snorkeling along the coast, you will encounter scorpionfish, moray eels, parrotfish, wrasse, among dozens of other species.
Albania is located in the Balkans, just north of Greece. It is bordered on its western side by 450 km of coastline bathed by the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea.
Most of Albania’s snorkeling spots are located in the southern part of its coastline, between Vlorë and Konispol, which includes the Albanian Riviera. This rough and mineral coast forms many coves ideal for getting into the water.
In the absence of a large river flowing into the sea, underwater visibility is generally excellent. The north, where estuaries, lagoons and long sandy beaches follow one another, is much less suitable for snorkeling.
Karaburun-Sazan National Park is considered the hotspot for snorkeling in Albania. It protects the marine area which includes the Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island, the largest island in the country.
The main gate for exploring the Park is Vlorë, where you will find many boat trips to take you there. It is also possible to book an excursion from Dhërmi, further south.
In any case, choose a tour that will take you to remote snorkeling spots, where underwater life abounds.
About 14km by road south of Vlorë is Radhime Beach, lined with small hotels and restaurants. This easily accessible spot offers calm and transparent waters, perfect for families.
About fifty kilometers further south begins around Dhërmi the Albanian Riviera. Its typical villages, its castles, its canyons, its beaches and its turquoise sea make it the major tourist and seaside destination of the country.
The small section of the coast between Dhërmi and Himarë boasts several amazing snorkeling spots over about fifteen kilometers. From north to south, Gjipe Beach, Jale Beach, Aquarium Beach (accessible by an unpaved road only) and Livadi Beach are all 4 highly recommended.
Just south of Himarë, Filikuri Beach and Llamani Beach are also prime spots. All offer superb snorkeling in a warm and crystalline sea, where the underwater life is still preserved.
Continuing along the coastal road towards Konispol, you then arrive at Porto Palermo, where you can explore the seabed around the fortress or at Lambjano Bay. A few kilometers further south, Borsh Beach and Buneci Beach are also suitable for snorkeling from the shore.
If you stay on the Riviera, don’t miss the bays of Kakome and especially Kroreza, nestled on the rocky coast. The boat (excursions from Himarë and Saranda, from 30 euros/pers.) is the ideal way to reach these preserved natural sites. They are among the very best snorkeling spots (and the most beautiful beaches) in Albania.
In Saranda, the capital of the Riviera, you can snorkel from almost all the beaches bordering the city. Even by favoring the rocky areas, the seabed is however quite poor.
For more exciting snorkeling, head to Ksamil, located 10km away, facing the Greek island of Corfu. Here, the most difficult will be to pick a spot: Pasquyrave Beach, Pulebarda Beach, Edon-Bina Beach and Monastery Beach are all spots that are worth a detour. They have in common varied rocky beds, great underwater visibility and lively ecosystems.
In the center of Ksamil, four islets, included in the Butrint National Park, face the town’s beaches. To get there, rent a canoe or a small boat, and go explore the islands by yourself.
Albania offers the opportunity to observe a large number of fish species at shallow depths. You will encounter “classic” Mediterranean species, such as seabream, wrasses, salema and damselfish, but also fish found only in the southern Mediterranean, where the water is warmer, such as parrotfish.
Moray eels and scorpionfish are rather common in Albania, where the coast is better preserved than in Western Europe.
Several exotic species from the Red Sea, arrived in the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, have also settled along the Albanian coasts after having gradually colonized the coasts of Israel, Turkey and Greece.
While exploring the coast, don’t be surprised to come across rabbitfish or lionfish, which appreciate the warm waters of the south of the country.
The Albanian coasts enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate. Although the winters are mild, snorkeling is mostly recommended during summer, from June to September.
During these months, the weather is dry, hot and sunny, and offers perfect conditions to enjoy the underwater world. The UV index is very high by the sea, and wearing a long-sleeved rashguard is recommended.
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Occasionally spotted on all spots.
Juveniles are frequent in the shallow rocky screes.
Fairly common on all rocky spots.
Look for them in the seagrass beds and on the rock drop offs.
Small rocky bay with a great diversity of fish
Level: Free shore access
Rocky cove with a diversity of fish.
Small rocky bays with many fish
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