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Agistri is the perfect destination for an easy day trip from Athens. Thanks to its clean sea, beautiful beaches and lush pine forests it is an awesome place for relaxing island break. But Agistri has plenty to offer to the adventurous folk as well, from kayak tours to motorboat or bike rentals and horse riding.
But a clear winner among them all is the scuba diving trip around Agistri with Interdive, combining all-day boat trip around the island’s beautiful coastline with multiple dive and snorkelling sessions, swim breaks and a tasty barbeque. It is ideal for novice divers like us who want to dip their toes into the mysterious world of scuba diving while enjoying a day of sun, sea and the bespoke Greek hospitality.
There are multiple ferries running between the Port of Pireaus and Agistri each day. The journey only takes between one and one and a half hour. Two types of boats operate between Piraeus and Agistri, fast (Flying Dolphin) and slow. Flying Dolphin is faster, obviously, but it also has better timetable with earlier departures from Athens and later returns from Agistri. If you are coming for just one day, they are definitely the better choice.
However, they are slightly more expensive, sensitive to the weather and not a pleasant experience for those of us suffering from seasickness on a windy day. On the other hand, if the sea is so rough to cause trouble to Flying Dolphin, it probably won’t be such a good idea to go for a diving boat trip in Agistri anyway. Conclusion: just take the fast ferry!
The ferries to Saronic islands including Agistri leave from Gate 8 of the Port of Piraeus. If you come by metro, just turn left outside of the metro station and follow the seaside. The gate itself is marked well but it is not all that easy to find the correct boat so ask around. As a rule of thumb, the Flying Dolphin is usually the smallest one around.
Let’s be realistic here, scuba diving trip to Agistri from Athens is not the most budget-friendly way to spend a Saturday. Together with ferry tickets, we paid over 100 euros per person. On the other hand, it was still the cheapest scuba diving trip available near Athens and worth every penny!
Below is a short summary of what we paid for our trip in summer 2019 but it is a good idea to check for current prices when booking your trip. Communication with the guys from Interdive over their Facebook Page was easy, they speak English very well and are happy to answer any questions. For ferry ticket prices and availability click HERE.
— Return ticket to Agistri with regular ferry: 20 – 23 euros
— Return ticket to Agistri with Flying Dolphin: 29 euros (or 26 euros if you book both ways with the same company)
— Scuba diving trip: 65 euros (or 25 euros for non-divers)
— Barbeque: 15 euros (optional but it wouldn’t be the same without it!)
The usual for a full day under the burning Greek sun: Swimsuit, towel, plenty of sunscreen and a hat.
An underwater camera if you have one. I didn’t take mine on the main dive as I thought I’ll have many other things to worry about. I was right and our instructor took pics of us anyway. But there were plenty of other opportunities during our snorkelling breaks or dives from the boat and we had a lot of fun with our underwater photo sessions.
Water and food: I took a bottle of water and snacks as an addition to our barbeque but didn’t really need any of that, we got everything from our hospitable crew.
Our trip started at Megalochori port in Agistri, the same port you’ll arrive with Flying Dolphin, at 10:00. I took the 7:50 Flying Dolphin from Athens and was more than one hour too early. There is another Flying Dolphin leaving Athens at 8:50 arriving in Agistri at 9:45. This would be a better choice if you don’t want to wait in Megalochori.
There is a well-stocked mini-market in the centre Megalochori port and few cafes open from early in the morning in case you arrive as early as I did. The Interdive boat is hard to miss in the small port but just in case there are posters on the pier, marking the right spot.
After boarding Interdive’s charming wooden boat and being greeted by friendly captain Babis and competent-looking diving instructor Hercules we set off towards Skala and Chalikiada beach. The scenic ride ended near Limenaria at the site of our first snorkelling session. After choosing a fitting mask and fins and a brief instruction we were off to explore the coastal cliffs and caves while getting comfortable breathing under the water.
It is worth mentioning that my relationship with the ocean is far from ideal. Growing up in a landlocked country, I am not particularly comfortable at sea. I’m prone to seasickness in rough conditions or on small boats, afraid of sharks or piranhas even in any body of water and usually stick to the shallows when going to the beach.
That being said, I felt completely safe and comfortable during the whole experience! It was partially because of the relaxed nature of the trip with plenty of time devoted to getting accustomed to the ocean and our equipment but mostly thanks to our instructor explaining patiently all the necessary details and keeping a close eye on us during the main dive.
Once done with snorkelling we returned back to the boat and sailed around the southern tip of Agistri to Dorousa for our main dive. Dorousa is a tiny islet opposite Aponisos with nothing but a little church on the top and small pier at its eastern shore. There is no beach per se at the anchorage, only a shaded concrete platform with a ladder leading down to the crystal clear sea.
Right after our arrival at Dorousa we split into two groups, collected our equipment and started practising for our dive at the shallow section of the anchorage. Trying to master the heavy tank, bread under the water, de-fog our masks and pay attention to the instructor all at once was a challenge at first with nothing indicating that this is going to be a fun experience.
Things changed for the better once we finally set off on our hour-long underwater walk. It only took a couple of minutes to get used to the pressure in our ears and the weird sensation of not being able to breathe through the nose and then a whole new world opened up in front of us!
I didn’t expect to see so many fish, even if tiny ones! To be completely honest I thought the marine life near Athens was close to none. But the opposite was true! We swam through a large school of fish multiple times, chased beautiful colourful ones near the sea bottom and admired all kinds of other creatures like starfish or sea urchins clinging to the rocky seabed.
At first, I thought spending a whole hour submerged under the water would be too much for me. But the opposite was true. Time flew by faster then we expected and soon enough our underwater stroll was over much to our disappointment. Fortunately, our captain come to the rescue and greeted us back to the dry land with an awesome barbecue.
It wasn’t an ordinary barbecue, though. Don’t expect simply a steak or a fish slapped on the grill. Instead, we enjoyed a buffet of chicken and sausages, freshly roasted peppers, salads and my personal favourite – freshly made aromatic melitzanosalata (eggplant spread). Accompanied by a plenitude of chilled wine, soft drinks and water the barbecue was well worth the extra 15 euros!
On our way back to the port at Megalochori, we stopped at Dragonera Beach for the last swim break. The sandy sea bed in front of the beach wasn’t ideal for snorkelling so we spent our half an hour break here diving from the boat, relaxing on the board and enjoying the last moments of this amazing, fun-filled trip.