Diving in SpainOriginally launched in 2001 as Earthviewer, Google Earth is one of those computer programmes that changed the way we saw our planet. At its most basic, Google Earth is a virtual globe incorporating a vast collection of maps and geographical information obtained by satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe.

In a relatively short time, Google Earth has become an invaluable tool for education, aid organisations, corporations and individuals. But until relatively recently, only information pertaining to what rose up from the earth was available. Then came the Google Ocean feature.

Google Ocean opened up a whole new world to those interested in what lay hidden below the surface of the water that covers, after all, more than 71% of the earth. Top scientists and oceanographers were invited to submit information on the bathymetry beneath the ocean waves and major lakes across the globe. Over the last few months, the accuracy and clarity of the underwater images has been improved to such an extent that Google now offers a Seafloor Tour!

The next logical step was to increase the availability of information on ocean sports around the world and so Google Earth joined forces with the Wanna Atlas, creators of the free illustrated atlases of water sport locations worldwide. Their interactive sites (wannasurf, wannadive, wannakitesurf, wannask8 and wannaskydive) incorporate maps, detailed descriptions, photos, weather forecast maps and member reviews. Users of the sites are actively encouraged to make any changes to the information they believe are necessary, upload new water sports sites and comment on conditions.

Diver close up with cuttlefishThis collaboration between the Google Earth giant and innovative wannasurf.com Ltd, means you can virtually fly directly to a geographical area that interests you, and find out which are the best spots for kitesurfing, scuba diving and surfing, plus detailed information submitted by real surfers and divers about the conditions, usability, skill level and enjoyability factor. Or you can use the tools on Google Earth to plan a route, for example, from one dive site to another, note GPS references, places of interest and other landmarks. If you want to read more detailed opinions from members, then simply click through to the Wanna Atlas sites and visit the forums to swap secret dive sites, log your dive or surf and chat about different water sport hotspots.

Google Earth and Ocean Sports have redefined surfing the web! If you want to have a go, make sure you have downloaded at least version 5 of Google Earth. In the layers panel on the left hand side, expand Ocean and then Ocean Sports. Select one of the options in the drop down menu: Surf Spots, Dive Spots or Kite Surfing Spots, whichever ones take your interest! Then fly across the world (virtually of course) to wherever you want to visit in the world and look out for the water sports icons. Double click on a dive icon to virtually dive right into the sea and examine whatever there is to explore. You might even find a shipwreck dating back to the Second World War!

Trying the dive sites in the real world? Don’t forget to log your dives or surfs on Wanna Surf to help other users find the best places for their future trips.

We are blessed with some fantastic dive sites all up and down the Valencia and Costa Blanca coastline. Make sure you check out the Javea area.