SO THERE WE ARE, all booked up for a two-week trip to Lanzarote, and 48 hours before departure we receive an email from the tour company to say that there has been a fault on its computer system.
The hotel in Playa Blanca with the onsite dive centre has been overbooked, and we are being moved to the Hesperia, near the small marina complex of Puerto Calero 12 miles away.
First question: “Is there a dive-centre nearby?” After a hurried online search we find that, yes, there is one in the hotel grounds.
We arrive to find that the dive-centre advertised online, Diveyourway, is no longer there. However, the site has just been taken over by Alvaro Roldán Montes of Liquid Planet.
As well as being a commercial diver and boat-skipper, it turns out that Alvaro has a long list of instructor qualifications, and offers everything from try-dives to recreational and technical courses. He has an impressive compressor bay and offers nitrox and mixed gases. There is even an underwater scooter.
The equipment looks good and drysuits can be hired, worth considering in winter, when the Atlantic water temperature is only 18°C, though at other times wetsuits should be fine. Boat-diving could be arranged, but we would do all our dives from the beach and be transported by road to the sites.
Our first dive was on the doorstep, from the hotel beach. With depths of no more than 10m this is ideal for beginners, but more experienced divers, especially photographers, should also enjoy this site, as there is a broad array of life including shoals of saupe and bream, octopuses, hermit crabs, cuttlefish and wrasse.
As with any dives here, if you’re lucky you might see angel sharks. Though an endangered species, they are fairly common in the Canary Islands at certain times of year. We find one buried in the sand in just 3m of water. The shallow depth at this site has its compensations, as our dive lasts 90 minutes.
Access to the Flamingo site at Playa Blanca is from a popular sandy beach, with a short swim out through the man-made breakwater. There is plenty to see inside this breakwater, including octopus, black-faced blennies, grey mullet and parrotfish, but outside it in depths of 18-20m the dive becomes breath-taking, featuring large shoals of saupe, bream, herring, snapper, red mullet and a very large but camera-shy sting ray.
Suddenly there is panic among the fish, as a marauding pack of barracuda cruises through.
Later I am questioned by a bather who looks slightly alarmed when I tell him about the barracuda that passed less than a metre from me in very shallow water close to the shore.
The Puerto del Carmen area is popular, so Alvaro and the crew time our dives to fit in between the morning and afternoon rush. There are various dramatic geological features in the form of caves, tunnels and drop-offs to see, and it’s impossible to view everything on one dive, so we do several.
Cathedral Cave and the Blue Hole with its series of tunnels and drop-offs are in 30-34m, but for the less experienced it is still possible to see some interesting geological features and caves close to shore in shallow water.
Lucky divers might find seahorses, but cardinalfish and octopuses can also be found in the caves.

TO REACH THE MORE DRAMATIC SITES, a 50m swim over coarse sand is required. Garden eels are common here, and with a careful approach you may be able to get close enough to see them rising from the sand, all peering in the same direction like aquatic meerkats.
Any sudden movement and they all withdraw into their burrows until the danger has passed.
We have been told that enormous grouper and a moray are frequently seen by Cathedral Cave, and we’re not disappointed. And as we swim over a nearby drop-off I’m surprised to see a small wreck that lies in 30m or so, sunk as a feature for divers to explore.
A small cave, also at 30m, provides the unique conditions of light and current required by the beautiful, but now fairly rare, red coral (Corallium rubrum).
Parrotfish graze on the rocks nearby, scraping off algae and invertebrates with their prominent beaklike teeth. They are a sexually dimorphic species, so you may be surprised to discover that the brightly coloured red and yellow fish are female and the drab grey fish are the male of the same species.
While decompressing in the shallows at the end of the dive, it’s a pleasure to relax and watch the wrasse, painted comber and shoals of mullet feeding on the sand.
The last dive of the holiday is on the Telamon, and wreck-lovers would say that Alvaro has saved the best until last. It lies between Arrecife and Costa Teguise, and if we had expected a submerged wreck we are surprised to find it visible from the shore.
The ship was built in London in 1954 and named the Temple Hall. In 1969 she was renamed Pantelis and registered in Piraeus, Greece. She changed hands a couple more times, and in 1977 became the Telamon, named by her last owner, Telamon Maritime Co and managed by Armour Shipping in Greece.
In Greek mythology Telamon was the son of King Aeacus of Aegina and father of Ajax. He accompanied Jason as one of his Argonauts. According to the myth he also helped Heracles to kill a sea-monster that Poseidon had sent to destroy the city of Troy.
The Telamon ship was not so lucky, and Poseidon and the monster got their revenge.
On 31 October, 1981, Telamon was on route to Thessaloniki from the Ivory Coast with a shipment of timber. A storm ravaged the Canaries, and when the vessel sprang a serious leak the captain radioed to Los Mármoles in Lanzarote for help.
The port is small and there were concerns about the possibility of the Telamon sinking and blocking access to the port, so she was manoeuvred a few hundred metres to the area of Las Caletas in front of the DISA fuel tanks and grounded on the sandy bottom behind the harbour wall. The company had intended to refloat the vessel, but this proved too costly.
The wreck lies in a mere 12m, but despite its shallow depth diving it requires some experience, particularly if you want to enter it, because of the peculiar effects of swell and tide around it.
The sea is flat-calm as we swim towards it but we are stopped in our tracks by a fierce “current” and have to cling to a rock. As quickly as the current appears it’s gone, and we can continue.

THE ENORMOUS STERN SECTION and rudder appear in just 5m depth. Finning along the starboard side you reach the gaping hole of the engine-room, where the ship split in two.
Care should be taken when entering the wreck, because the structure is in a fragile state and has many sharp edges.
Swimming aft, I again notice the strong tidal effect that threatens to pull me over the bulkhead into the rear section. There is plenty to occupy wreck enthusiasts, including diesel engines, generators, boilers and intact instruments.
The bow section lies a short distance away, inviting for photographers, and bream and damselfish dart in and out of the wreckage. Red mullet are common, and our guide Fabio tells us that at times he has seen more than a hundred lying on the sand.
We had an excellent time despite the threat of the holiday being spoilt by the last-minute change of venue. The staff at Liquid Planet are relaxed and enthusiastic and go out of their way to cater for individual requirements.
The dive-sites would probably have been similar had we stayed in Playa Blanca, though Puerto Calero is much closer to the Puerto del Carmen sites and to the Telamon wreck at Las Caletas. Also, technical diving was not offered by Dawn Dives in Playa Blanca.
If we go again we would like to explore the La Graciosa nature reserve to the north of the island, accessible only by boat.
The climate in Lanzarote is pleasant all year round, with water temperatures ranging from 18-25°C. Puerto Calero is a small but vibrant town with a number of hotels. There is a marina complex, small supermarket, designer shops and a good selection of eating-places with prices to suit all pockets, ranging from an English tea-shop to Italian, Spanish, Japanese and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Prices tend to be cheaper than in the UK.
For non-divers there are a number of attractions and excursions, including Timanfaya National Park, the Jameos del Agua and Cueva de los Verdes caves and submarine safaris.

FACTFILE
GETTING THERE: Direct budget flights from many UK airports. Average flight time is four hours, followed by a short transfer from Arrecife airport.
DIVING & ACCOMMODATION: Liquid Planet dive centre (liquidplanet.eu/lanzarote) is located in the grounds of the Hesperia Hotel, Puerto Calero (www.hesperia.com). Alternative accommodation there includes the all-inclusive Hotel Costa Calero, and self-catering Villas del Mar. Another dive- centre option would be Safari Diving, which is located on the beach in Puerto del Carmen, www.safaridiving.com
WHEN TO GO: Any time. From the middle of September to the end of November the main holiday season is over but the water remains warm at around 23°C, dropping to 18°C in February. For seeing angel sharks, the cooler months are best.
PRICES: Seven nights’ B&B at the Hesperia plus flights and transfers costs from around £876pp with Travel Republic. A single shore-dive costs 40 euros with all equipment included or 35 euros each for four or more dives. Add 5 euros each for boat-dives.
VISITOR INFORMATION: www.turismolanzarote.com/en