Over the summer season, travel journalist Tristan Rutherford sends Y.CO a postcard each weekend as he travels around Europe’s top superyacht destinations.
Amorgos, Greece, 16 June 2012
Tomorrow marks the 24th anniversary of the freediving film, The Big Blue. The 1988 release explored the aquatic rivalry between no-limits divers Jacques Mayol and Enzo Molinari in a series of balletic undersea shots. The Frenchman and the Sicilian dueled under the waves, descending to depths of up to 100m in the 1970s.
Luc Besson’s hit movie also exposed man’s mammalian diving reflex. The theory that the human heart rate can slow down like a seal when submerged inspired a generation of professional freedivers and rank amateurs, including me.
Does it work? It sure does. The world record for a scuba-free descent now stands at 273m. The limit for holding one’s breath – while face down in the drink – now stands at over 11 minutes.
But the star of The Big Blue was the Greek island of Amorgos. The movie setting encouraged thousands of divers to make the pilgrimage to this long, skinny island south of Naxos. Freedivers, scuba divers and snorkelers all make a beeline for the small bays and islands around the island’s southern tip.
Here the rocky shores of tiny Gramvoussa islet and Kalotaritissa bay host kaleidoscopic shoals of fish. Large groupers lurk in deep crevices behind anemone-covered boulders. There’s a good chance of spotting an octopus too. Nearby, in the small inlet at Liveros, the rusting shipwreck of the freighter Olympia is an impossibly picturesque spot to dive.
There are other reasons for directing your superyacht to Amorgos, one of the most idiosyncratic of the Cyclades Islands. It clings to age-old traditions of music, dance, and Greek island cuisine. You may be invited to take part in a celebratory circle-dance at a village festival, or to sample local delights such as bright-orange sea slugs, purple fousta shellfish, lemon liqueur, or wild artichokes.
Wish you were here…