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Tromsø, Norway

June 2017

Tromsø is known as the gateway to the Arctic. This small town lying at the 69° was starting point of many famous polar expeditions and is also a popular spot for tourists to visit and catch the Northern Lights. We aimed to do exactly the opposite and visiting the area in late June were hoping to see the never setting midnight sun and do some dives in the arctic norwegian waters. We got in touch with the local Tromsø Undervannsklubb (TUK), who helped us to rent tanks and took us for 3 awesome dives within the one-day visit.

On June 23rd at 400 km north of the arctic circle the sun doesn't set. Night diving was off the tables. But that was not the scope of our trip to Tromsø anyway, quite the opposite, actually. We wanted to see the midnight sun that never sets and go diving in this  captivating region.
I had contacted Tromsø Undervannsklubb (TUK) and Kristin, their chair, arranged for us an amazing day of diving, given the limited time we had.

Starting early-ish in the morning, our first dive was off the club boat to see the wreck of an old ferry. The ferry was used to connect Tromsø (which lies on an island) to the mainland before the bridges were built and this particular one had sunk in 1968. 

The weather was lovely, mostly sunny and warm although a bit breezy, but we enjoyed the ride on the rib to the dive site. The wreck is quite small and broken up making it rather tricky to find with only the depth sounder. After almost half an hour and one failed attempt, we were all ready to head back to land but thanks to the persistence of our skipper Bjørn - a true Norwegian seafarer - who would not give up and with a copious amount of swearing he eventually located the wreck and I got to dive it! 
It was breaming with life especially giant sea cucumbers clinging to the deck and lots of colorful squidgy things. The water column was filled with comb jellies which kept on distracting me from the wreck, because they were just so chunky and soooooo cool!

Once back on land we got back into our cars and off to the next dive site: Grøtfjord (Porridge Fjord) in the near Kvaløya island. Despite the name it is a turquoise blue fjord surrounded by barren rocky mountains still sprinkled with snow and with very clear visibility.
We parked our rented car in a layby, scrambled down to the water's edge and swam along a rocky ridge. The visibility was stunning and the rocks were covered in what looked like tiny corals. In the shallower waters there was also a massive smack of lion's mane jelly fish,  at times we had to open the way to swim through the curtain of their loooong tentacles. Although this was all very pretty, Kristin did not let us be distracted and led us quickly to the highlight of this dive, big boulders at about 20m each with its own plume anemone garden. Most boulders just had anemones of one color: either green, orange, yellow or white, which looked very peculiar.

After this dive we had a couple of hours to chill before catching the 9pm low water slack on our last dive of the day dive at Kvitbergan. This scenic site was very different from the previous one: it was a gentle sloping sandy bottom covered in kelp also very rich in life.  We saw a huge school of haddock swimming around and the occasional cod. At our safety stop we came across a wolf fish that was relaxing on the seabed. It was Barbora's first wolffish so obviously she got out very excited (as did I). 

We had an amazing time in Tromsø diving with the TUK. We did three very different dives within one long day, all equally interesting and exciting. We returned home that day really tired but very happy. This area has some really cool sites and we regretted not having enough time to explore it more with the friendly and super chilled lot of divers from this club. Special thanks to Kristin, the chair of the club for organising such great day for us.
We will look forward to going back in November to dive with the club and whales and hopefully see the Northern lights as well. Or is that asking for too much?

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