IBIZA IS ONE OF THE BALEARIC islands, an archipelago of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s well-known for its lively nightlife though it is also home to quiet villages and yoga retreats. Its beaches range from busy and crowded to quiet sandy coves backed by pine-clad hills – either way, they are found all around the coast. 
Taking occupation of everything from luxurious private villas to budget hostels, tourists come in search of sun, sea, music and siestas, but for me Ibiza is all about the diving.
The first time I went, 10 years ago, I went snorkelling and was quite disappointed with what I found, or rather, failed to find. There were not that many fish in the sea, no coral and lots of jellyfish.
However, the visibility was like that of the Caribbean, so I decided to do my PADI Open Water Diver course there, hoping that scuba would get me to depths at which I might see more evidence of Mediterranean sea life.
On those first dives I saw rockfish, moray eels, octopuses and cuttlefish, but it wasn’t until my last dive, when we were about to do a safety stop, that I spotted seven dolphins heading towards us.
They swam around us for few moments and then went on their way.
I got back to the dive-school very excited. It was my first time seeing wild dolphins so close.
It might have been beginner’s luck but I was desperate to get back in the water and see what else was out there.
Not everybody seemed to be as happy as I was after my first day of diving.
I overheard one of the owners talking to the skipper about a cargo ship that had sunk a few weeks earlier.
There had been a lot of speculation about the effects of the shipwreck on Ibiza’s tourism and, more importantly, on the environment and the island’s pristine waters. 
The Don Pedro, a modern 8000-ton container ship and truck ferry, sank on the morning of 11 June, 2007. Just minutes after leaving the port of Ibiza, heading towards Valencia, the vessel lined up towards Mallorca instead.
The crew realised their mistake and quickly changed course – which was what led the ship to crash into a reef called Dado Pequeño, one of the small islands close to the entrance to the port, and a dive-site noted for its marine-life.
The 18 crew-members and passengers were rescued without casualties, but the giant vessel was fatally holed, and sank within 45 minutes. There followed a successful operation to remove the heavy fuel oil from Don Pedro’s bunkers, along with light diesel and chemicals from its containers that threatened to pollute Ibiza’s environment. 
Divers worked for many months to close off fuel-leaks and remove poisonous substances. As it turned out, this disaster scene would turn into the island’s best diving asset.

FAST FORWARD TO 2016, and I’m back in Ibiza to see the Don Pedro.
We board the boat and head south from Ibiza port, passing the islet of Dado Pequeño. 
The skipper turns off the engines in the middle of nowhere, and an instructor jumps into the water.
As we all look at each other, confused by the sudden disappearance of the instructor, the skipper laughs at us and points towards the buoy marking the position of Don Pedro, hidden only 11m below the surface.
We prepare our equipment, get a recap of our briefing and jump in, starting our descent and naturally expecting to see a huge cargo ship. Instead, the only thing visible is an empty turquoise sea.
For a second I think we’re in the wrong spot. How could we miss such a big wreck – perhaps it is nothing like the spectacle I have imagined. We carry on going deeper, and I begin to make out a dark shadow beneath me.
We continue down to 26m, by which time we have reached the hull of the ship – and that’s when I start to appreciate the scale of this big guy. I can’t figure out which part of the boat I’m looking at – all I can see is a gigantic metal structure.
Then, at 35m, I see the huge propeller, bigger than any I have ever seen before. We pass it and touch the dark sandy bottom. We make it to 47m, where I remember it being very dark.
As we start our slow ascent there is plenty of life to see – passing the stern ramp, for example, it’s clear that large scorpionfish have made this part of the wreck their home. Patrolling barracuda hunt smaller fish trying to hide in the fronds growing out of the ship’s exterior.
The dive is an amazing experience, but it all seems to happen too fast. Deep dives don’t last long, and I want to see more of Don Pedro and have another chance to photograph this 142m-long wreck and the creatures that live on it.

I DECIDE TO EXTEND my Ibiza holiday to dive the Don Pedro again.
During my second dive we reach the rectangular entry point to the hull at 26m, which is the only permitted dive inside the wreck – all other routes into the vessel are regarded as dangerous and consequently forbidden.
With my torch lighting our path inside the shell of the ship, I manage to take a few shots of the rusty steps and walls before we descend to the sandy bottom at 45m. My buddy starts to feel a bit strange, giving me the signal to go up a few metres.
I think it’s the depth playing with his head, so we go up to around 30m, relax for a few minutes and then he gives me the OK sign to carry on. 
Finally I have time to focus on photographing the life around me. I have seen rock-lobster hiding beneath the colourful seagrass and scorpionfish resting peacefully on the ragged surface of the deck overgrown by vegetation. 
As we start the slow ascent I am able to capture one image of the top of the wreck that gives an idea of how majestic, unique and flourishing Don Pedro is.
An accidental man-made reef permanently built into the seabed off Ibiza, where many wonderful species have found new shelter and created their own eco-system.

FACTFILE
GETTING THERE: Budget flights from the UK with Norwegian and other airlines.
DIVING & ACCOMMODATION: Punta Dive Ibiza has three centres – Cala Martina is a PADI 5* IDC resort, puntadive.com
WHEN TO GO: May, June, September and early October. Ibiza is crowded and more expensive in July and August. Summer water temperatures 22-28°.
CURRENCY: Euro.
PRICES: Return flights from £75. Matias stayed in an AirBnB apartment for 85 euros a night. Two dives cost 74 euros
VISITOR INFORMATION: www.ibiza.travel/en