With over 11,000 miles of coastline to explore, the UK has some of the best dive sites right here on your doorstep! OK, the temperature might be slightly off-putting, but with a decent set of thermals, a woolly hat, and a few flasks to keep you warm, what’s not to love?
We list five sites here to help you see why scuba diving in the UK is becoming more and more popular.
Probably the furthest north of the UK sites is Scapa Flow - a wreck divers dream. 52 German Naval ships were scuttled here during the Second World War. Now quite easily accessible, Scapa Flow is often voted one of the top dive sites in the UK, Europe and even the world, not only because of the history and pure spectacle of the wrecks, but also the marine life that surrounds them in the crystal-clear green waters.
Although obviously chilly, and at times quite challenging, the best time to dive here is December through to March when the water is clearest.
But don’t take our word for it, Open Water divers and those with more experience looking for deeper dives travel here from all around the world - definitely one to try!
The coastline around Devon, in the South of England, is festooned with lobsters, urchins, natural kelp reefs and caves. At the right time of year, you will see some of the most amazing cuttlefish and can even take part in a night dive to experience sea life after dark.
Lundy Island is one of the most scenic and memorable sites to visit. It was the first UK area to be given the title of Marine Conservation Zone, in 1986. On the hour-long boat ride from the beautiful seaside town of Ilfracombe, you may even be lucky enough to see some of the cheeky ‘Labrador-like’ seals, dolphins, and playful puffins and porpoises!
Whilst Lundy is not a dive centre itself, there are over 40 dive sites around the island, and dives can be arranged from the mainland for all levels of experience. Because of its position joining the Gulf Stream with the Mediterranean Sea, it makes for one of the most enjoyable UK dives with clear views and plenty to explore.
40 miles off the Outer Hebrides, the World Heritage Site at the archipelago of St Kilda is not one of the shortest trips. But most certainly worth the extra time if you want to explore it thoroughly. From pink jewel anemones and colourful sea slugs to lion’s mane jellyfish and a natural abundance of other flora and fauna, this really is one site you will not want to miss. And, trust me, you won’t be the first to want to keep going back time after time!
St Abbs Marine Reserve offers some of the best shore diving in the UK because of the combination of deep water close to the shore and strong tides. The double archway of Cathedral Rock is the main highlight for first time visitors there too, the entire reserve brimming with marine life!
For an eerie yet spectacular dive experience, the HMS M2 submarine, lies about 3 miles off Lyme Bay. It was an underwater aircraft carrier designed to come to the surface, launch one aircraft and then dive back beneath the water. However, it is believed that the hangar doors were left open when she submerged, and thus sank in 1932, losing all 60 crew members.
At a depth of around 36m, she remains virtually intact, hangar doors still open, and sits almost upright on the seabed. This is a site many divers love.
If you pay this wreck the same respect as you should with any underwater experience, it will certainly be one to remember. Although watch out for the congers lurking in the torpedo tubes!
Dorset’s Swanage Pier is home to the UK’s oldest diving school. With accommodation and food galore, it is a fabulous first sea dive site for new divers, and with so much more to see than you would possibly imagine from wooden stilts beneath the sea! No dive is the same as the next and even the seasoned divers still love a dip off Swanage Pier.
But there are also boat dives out to the numerous wrecks, and drift dives from Old Harry Rocks and across the Peverell Ledges. Some fascinating relics lie beneath the water including a sunken amphibious tank – work that one out!
We round off our tour of some of the great UK dive sites with The Farne Islands. On the east side of England, just below the Scottish border, they offer both drift diving and dozens of steamship wrecks to be explored.
Not only that, though, it is the experience of diving with the largest grey seal colonies in England that attracts many other visitors.
Hundreds of seal pups are born each Autumn, so you will never be alone as you investigate their fantastic underwater world. But a word of caution – watch your fins, as some of the very inquisitive young pups are likely to tug if you are not paying them enough attention!
So, with all the above, hopefully you now appreciate why scuba diving in the UK has so much to offer!
But if you want to find out more about how we can help you see the best of the best all around you, please get in touch.