Marine Protected Area

The Marine Protected Area of Ustica Island
With care and protection, with safe havens in the ocean, there is still a good chance that we can turn things around. @SylviaEarle

More than 30 years of protection, scientific research, education and legislation, made up the underwater paradise you are about to discover.
Profondo Blu Diving is an accredited organisation* by the Local Authority of the Marine Protected Area of Ustica Island and authorized to conduct scuba diving and snorkelling excursions according to the regulations, for your safety and for environment awareness and protection.

The MPA is divided in 3 zones: Zone A - The No Take Zone, Zone B – The Buffer Zone and the Zone C – The Open (or peripheral) Zone. Scuba diving is allowed in zone B and C, where all dive sites are located, while Zone A is off-limits, except for some snorkelling tours arranged by the authority itself.
Visit the official website Area Marina Protetta Isola di Ustica for detailed information on the organization, zoning and infrastructures.

A panoramic view of the sites you will visit with Profondo Blu Diving is as follows.

Dive Sites & Itineraries


These selected dive spots are characterized by slopes, reefs, walls and bottom conformation of geological and biological interest populated by fishes, crustaceans, molluscs and sessile species. Macro photography is recommended and almost all to be frequented also by beginners.

Punta Falconiera
Gorgonians and Crustaceans colour a vertical wall that lands on a sandy bottom 30 metres deep and more, while jack-fishes offer a hunting scene in front of the cavern that opens in the wall. In the nearby also an archaeological itinerary can be visited. Sometimes current can disturb.

Punta Omo Morto
Great squared blocks of pyroclastic rocks are fallen along a slope and starting from 20 metres they are decorated by colourful gorgonians, where groupers have settled their den. Schools of amberjack passing close to the shore are likely to be encountered.

Secca della Colombara
You need at least 3 dives to complete the circumnavigation of the entire shoal. A reef raised from a 60 m deep floor up to 3.5 m from the surface, is an oasis of life. While the main interest of this dive spot is the pelagic life around it, the formation of columnar basalt on one side and a concave wall on the other, connected by a plateau entirely covered with algae and fissures hiding lots of groupers, make it an interesting sight for benthic life as well. In 2005 the cargo “ITA” flying Panamanian flag has run aground on the shoal of the Colombara and nowadays it lays in two pieces, on a seabed of 24-26 metres on the opposite sides of the reef. If you’re. Current is one of the limits of this dive spot.

Secca Savaglia
This dive site is out of the standard spots, as it is specifically of photography interest on singular specie of Savalia savaglia, commonly known as gold coral. Would you believe as many as 11 specimens at less than 30 metres?! If you’re satisfied with that and nothing else (the surroundings are a bit plain and you’ll have to descent and ascent in open water), we’ll be happy to lead you here!

Scoglio del Medico
An emerged rock separated not far from the coast represents a miniature of the island. 4 days are the minimum stay to visit it completely, especially if you can take advantage of extra deep dives. Canyons, walls, crevices and tunnels make this site multifaceted and never tiring. Although it’s better known for its pelagic life and for cavern diving, the fact that you can also snorkel around the rock leads you to believe the richness of life along its walls from 0 to 20 metres and more.

Together with Secca Africa, this dive spot may not be associated to typical diving in Ustica, as the sceneries as well as fish behaviour differ from the other spots. It is named by the shape of its rocks: they may not be exactly 3 separated blocks, as it’s more like a rock ridge, but at the end of it an isolated rock comes up like a spur, tracing back to the image of the pyramids.
Beginners may get the best of it without current, exploring the top of the entire ridge, while deep divers can admire the imposing cliffs interrupted by coves and fissures, and canyons decorated by coloured gorgonians.

Secca Africa
Parrot fishes and brown meagre are mostly to be encountered here, as well as different species of breams and wrasse. Huge groupers hide in the crevices and more shy than usual – wonder why they seem to be more wary. Advanced and experienced divers may get the best of this dive site, but beginners are to enjoy the unique volcanic conformation of a natural arch at the expense of those who dove deeper that will have to skip it on their way to the surface!

Zu’ Cristofaru
This dive spot is often connected with Sutta ‘a Za’ Lisa but if you want to get the best of it you need to slow down and reduce the length of the itinerary, especially if you’re willing to go a bit deeper. A steep slope gives the start of the dive, flying over the great blocks slid down from the landslide where usually a school of common two-banded sea bream are usual to encounter, and which give place to articulated rocky passages. Cavern divers may also visit the narrow cavity at 14 metres.

Sutta ‘a Za’ Lisa
This funny name in Sicilian dialect (which means the bay located under the house of Aunt Lisa!) has actually nothing to do with the dive site itself, but Sicilians can relate with the idea of gracefulness of an auntie. Ideal for beginners as well as a relaxing second dive, it offers a variety of sceneries: a half-pipe roof overlooking a sandy bottom offers a great variety of colourful sessile species worthy of at least 10 minutes-time, alternated by a Posidonia grassland that leads to a series of shallow canyons.

Grotta del Tuono
The name refers to the rest of a collapsed terrestrial cavern that overlooks the bay, so there are no caves underwater in this site. A large rock ridge sweetly sinks from shallow waters down to 40 metres, where big groupers made their home. The dive takes place meandering through the rocks scattered on slope covered by sea grass.

Punta dell’Arpa
We call it the 3 in 1 dive site: the deepest part can be visited by the more experienced divers, where the largest colony of Paramuricea clavata can be admired, from 28 to 38 metres on the sandy bottom; the medium area within 25 and 15 metres, especially if there is current, you can shelter behind the massive rocks hoping in some amberjack to surprise you while in good company of breams and groupers, up to the shallow area meandering through passages and crevices of the volcanic cliff surrounding the bay.

Punta Galera
One of the most famous and popular dive spots of Ustica: snorkelers, discovery divers as well as beginners and experts can get their best experience here. A strip of land divides the bay in two parts, from which a gentle slope drops down to offer two different points of view, depending on the mooring site. Probably its conformation is not so unique comparing to other spots, but it must be the light, the colours, the richness and the variety of species that you never get disappointed although you might go for the same dive.

Punta San Paolo
The large bay with its high cliff offers a good shelter from stronger winds and enables us to experience a great dive also when the sea is too rough in other sites. It is marked by great fissure that cuts the hill from the surface down to about 16 metres. The slope drops down rapidly to extreme depths, but it is enjoyable also within few metres. Octopuses and biscuits stars are the encounters you can rarely find elsewhere.

Grotta della Pastizza
Pastizza is a semi-submerged cave named by the facing rock. It is one of the most popular dive sites for cavern divers, as there are two underwater caverns on both sides of the main vault. Yet divers of all levels may enjoy the scenery in the outside area, where you will find a steep slope shortly leading in front of the coralligenous wall of the crustaceans, characterized by the presence of archaeological remains and friendly groupers.

Grotta Azzurra
It is mostly famous as a stop-over of the island tour by boat, as its fascinating light blue reflections of the grotto attracts any visitor and wouldn't go unnoticed. The dive results to be of unexpected beauty, as other divers are not used to dive in this site, but we developed an interesting itinerary much appreciated by our guests. A large opening in the cliff at about 20 metres gives place to a cave-like environment, with a white sandy bottom in contrast to the dark vault of the volcanic wall. Here a couple of huge groupers seem to be the owners of the shack! Continuing along the wall a look into the open blue may give you the chance to see some pelagic species passing by. On the way back to the mooring buoy, a slow ascent towards the semi-submerged grotto offers a marvellous ending of the dive by surfacing inside the cave, surrounded by the turquoise-coloured effects and the multi-coloured walls of the large chamber.


The essence of the Profondo Blu Inspiration: plunge into the open blue waters to encounter the charismatic species – barracudas and amberjacks - of the pelagic zone.

Scoglio del Medico and Secca della Colombara are the crown jewel for pelagic experiences. As they are both located distant from the coast, they are like oasis of life attractors of hunting fish. Barracudas and amberjacks have made them they favourite stage to put their show, also for beginners, but what is more incredible is that also groupers (mainly goldblotches and mottled groupers) behave as if they were pelagic species! They group and roam in open waters, not too far from the reef.  

Secchitello is pre-eminently the dive-into-the-blue site. It’s a shoal with its top at only 23 metres and you need to be an expert diver confident with buoyancy, currents and no reference descent/ascent. The shoal is only a stage where the actors (barracuda, amberjacks, mottled groupers, dentex) dance on and audience (responsible divers) get part of the show.


Important Note: By the MPA
Regulation (art.7) in Ustica you need to be a certified Cavern Diver to access into any underwater cavity.

Grotta della Falconiera
Tunnel Del Medico and the Cunicoli

Grotta delle Cipree
Grotta Zu’ Cristofaru
Grotta dei Cocci
Grotta dei Gamberi
Grotta Delle Naìadi
Grotta Sommersa della Pastizza
Grotta delle Stalattiti

Click here to learn about the typology and characteristics of the caverns.


Two archaeological underwater itineraries have been set in Punta Cavazzi and in Punta Falconiera by the Sicilian Superintendent Of The Sea. Punta Cavazzi is actually the first one to be installed in the Mediterranean, model followed subsequently also elsewhere. The rests are mainly anchors of different ages, which are approximately in the place where they have been found, so divers can experience the feeling of a plunge back in time. Lately the itineraries have suffered from the abandonment of local authorities in the matter of maintenance, but will soon be restored by a new institution.
We will be happy to introduce you to the fascinating ancient times of the island in the environment we love the best, and to lead you into a virtual tour of the past.



Secchitello and Secca della Colombara are mostly visited within 25 metres, but as they are shoals surrounded by deep water, their vertical walls down to 40-50 metres offer a great highlight to the lovers of the depths. Not much for the pelagic species, as they prefer warm and shallow waters, but for corals, spunges and crustaceans.

Banco Apollo is the only dive site where only technical divers can go. It the farthest site (not even on the map) and specifically arranged upon request. It’s a shoal that starts from a plateau at 36-40 metres and drops down to 80 metres and more. Pelagic fishes are not to be frequently encountered as one might think. It is mostly famous for the deep gorgonians and the Laminaria, a brown seaweed characterized by long, leathery laminae and relatively large size.

If in addition to be a technical diver you’re also a cave diver, then Grotta dei Gamberi and Grotta dei Cirri are going to be your favourite playground. The caves are not particularly arduous by themselves, as they are large cavities with bottoms composed of medium-grained sand and pebbles, but once their entrances are placed within the range of 40-45 metres and extend into wide tunnels that make you lose sight of the opening, you’ll need specific abilities to explore this kind of environment. Gamberi are the shrimps, and in this cave there are tons of them, spread everywhere around the main chamber; while Cirri are a kind of fish – the curled picarel – typical of deep waters and are bottom-dwelling carnivores. Although the cave is named by them, they are a rare sighting, but the cave deserves to be visited for its own beauty in conformation and sessile species.

Snorkelling itineraries 

If you’re not a diver, don't give up discovering the underwater world, by snorkelling. You don't need to be a scuba diver to encounter aquatic life. Take part to our snorkelling excursions guided by our marine biologist & naturalist.
Here are the sites specifically we selected for you to get the most of a snorkelling tour. The spots are intentionally named by their ancient toponym as they in somehow connected to their characteristics and highlights and we want to preserve their originality.

The following spots are dotted along the coastline around the island and are identified to be interesting for their volcanic conformation, such as lava pillows, basalts, tunnels and cracks, and for the typical infra-coastal flora and fauna, easy to identify thanks to crystal and transparent waters.

Punta ‘ra Mezzaluna & U’ Patanu
Scogghiu ru Liune & Cala Ciacuni

Testa du Russu
Punta Megna
Matri Santa & Patriconiu
Sutta ‘a Za’ Lisa
La Vaddotta
Cala Sciabica
Punta Galera
A Ciaccazza di San Paolo

There are 9 semi-submerged caves along the coastline that can be visited from the surface, of which most of them are not accessible by boat but only by swimming in. Equipped with a dive torch to enlighten the cavities and with booties to walk on the rocks, you’ll discover some of the most unknown places of the island where no visitor, scuba diver neither local guide are used to go!

Rutticeddi & Scogghiu Culumbaru
Rutta Vinci

Grotta della Faglia
‘A Sireta & ‘Rutta Vascia
‘Rutta da Sciabica
‘Rutta da Pastizza
‘Rutta di l’Acqua & ‘Rutta ‘i San Franciscu