Diving into Fernsteinsee

Embark on an adventure to Fernsteinsee, Austria’s hidden gem. Dive into its clear, emerald waters, explore historic castles, and discover a paradise where nature and history converge in an unforgettable Alpine experience. Perfect for divers and explorers alike!

A year ago, our motorcycle took us around Austria with no specific destination. Along the way to Germany, we were intrigued by a large, ambitious sign that read ‘Diving Paradise’.
At the time, we dismissed it as a misplaced slogan in a remote mountain area and, unfortunately, didn’t stop to check it out.

A few months later, our friend Nello invited us to plan another trip to Austria. After our experiences at Grublsee and Grunersee, he now suggested Fernsteinsee. We checked the map and discovered that it was exactly that ‘Diving Paradise’ we had ignored before.

And here we are now, right here in the town of Nassereith in Tyrol, equipped with diving gear and eager to discover this ‘divers’ paradise’. Upon arrival, before even checking in, we went to see Fernsteinsee.

Fernsteinsee view

A fairy-tale scene that a year ago we hadn’t even noticed, perhaps just because our biker gear was incompatible with scuba.

We are a few steps from the Fern pass at about 900 meters above sea level, on the road that in ancient times connected Germany and Italy. The ancient tollhouse, Schloss Fernsteinsee, dominates the landscape and towers over the lake below. The castle dates back to before the 12th century and was probably a rest stop for horseback travel and hunting. In 1780, the castle became privately owned, becoming a castle hotel. From 1872, King Ludwig II of Bavaria booked two rooms, making it one of his favorite destinations. An imperial destination that today, after centuries, maintains the style of the rooms and premises intact. The historic charm of the hotel is preserved by the current owners, the Kohle family, who pay great attention to the centuries-old Tyrolean tradition.

Fernsteinsee castle
The ancient tollhouse, Schloss Fernsteinsee

At the foot of the hotel in a cottage-style, two rooms are set up for divers. The first with heaters to store and dry the equipment after diving. The second with two coin-operated compressors to independently recharge their own tanks. Both rooms are accessed only with a magnetic card given to divers staying at the hotel.

A few hundred meters from the castle another guest facility, Villa Lorea, offers apartments for those who prefer this solution to hotel rooms. Modern and traditional accommodations, spacious and comfortable.

From the hotel, guests can drive along the road that runs along the lake, stop, and dive wherever they prefer at one of the three predetermined points. The lake is 550 meters long and 540 meters wide, and comfortable accesses have been set up along the perimeter to facilitate entry into the water. These entrances thus have comfortable stairs to descend on the paths, tables, and benches for equipment, and wooden gazebos to shelter in case of rain. There are also deck chairs for post-dive relaxation or for companions.

Diving into the Fernsteinsee lake

The first point of entry to the lake, closest to the hotel, is right under the structure where there are also some pedal boats and small rowboats moored.

The water is so clear that from the shore you can see divers dozens of meters away.

The water access is, as throughout the lake, very easy with the shoreline gradually sloping into the water. We too begin to explore the lake right from here and then move by car to different places exploring Fernsteinsee far and wide.
The water is quite cold and just below the surface, you can see the thermocline with the temperature dropping from 12 to 6°C. We are naturally well-equipped for these temperatures which turn out to be even pleasant.
All along the shores, trees descend into the water with many submerged branches. The sediment on the bottom is very delicate, and any too-close finning could raise a cloud of suspension and ruin the lake flora.

In some places, many logs lie on the bottom, almost fossilized. Very particular the scenario, almost lunar away from the shore. Fish swim almost undisturbed and let themselves be approached.
On the surface, ducks and swans swim above us, almost curious about our presence.

Diving in Samerangersee

A few hundred meters from Fernsteinsee is Samerangersee, another splendid little pond about a hundred meters in diameter. Here too, diving is reserved for hotel guests and it is also necessary to book your turn because only 4 divers can dive at the same time.

To access the water a comfortable passage opens behind a door locked with a magnetic key, the same as the compressor room.

The water is perhaps even clearer than at Fernsteinsee and visibility is truly exceptional. Always more interesting the part under the coast where dozens of logs are submerged and where from below you can see reflections of trees and mountains.

Diving in Fernsteinsee only for connoisseurs, a vacation for everyone
Aged whiskey isn’t for everyone, nor can everyone drink it, but there are those who love it and seek nothing else. Fernsteinsee is just like that: it’s not for everyone. To be able to dive there, you need to have at least 100 dives, you must book at least two nights at the hotel, and above all, you must know that you are descending into very cold waters. That said, it is a magnificent place, one of those experiences that stand out and will remain in memory, without the need to be noted in the logbook.

A dive into history and the heart of Bavaria.

For those who don’t dive, the landscape, nature, fresh and uncontaminated air provide an equally exceptional context. Ideal for a relaxing family holiday, sports for mountain bike or trekking enthusiasts, or for a romantic getaway.

Fernsteinsee, a divers’ paradise?

Different from the more classic paradise typically envisioned in more tropical destinations Fernsteinsee is an exclusive and sought-after paradise for a relaxing weekend in Austria.

marco daturi scuba diving selphie

Article published in ScubaPortal and ScubaZone