Top UK Diving Spots
An oasis of marine life, scenic drifts and shipwrecks, the British Isles provide a dazzling array of opportunities for divers. Here we highlight some celebrated spots for diving adventures.
The South WestEngland’s south-western corner offers a rich source of stunning underwater life. Experts believe that the further south and west in England you head then the greater the treats in terms of marine life, underwater visibility and local scenery.
One particularly celebrated spot for beginner divers is the Weymouth and Portland area. The quality of the location is highlighted by its status as a highly reputed diving training area. The Scuba Centre in Portland runs a four-day PADI Open Water learn-to-dive course, which includes dives to a dredger and 19th century paddle steamer.
With its scenic drifts, shallow wrecks, abundant marine life and access to deep water spots, Portland Harbour is widely considered to be an all round perfect dive site. Once the preserve of the Navy, the harbour area is now owned by Portland Port Ltd and accessible to all.
If the opportunities for marine exploration improve the further south west you head then by rights the Cornish peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean should be a particularly sterling site. And it doesn’t disappoint. The granite topography of the peninsula reaches far out into the waves of the Atlantic, forming reefs, pinnacles and shoals bustling with marine life. Diving clubs prize this area for its deep wrecks, shoreline gullies and tunnels, and spectacular sheer drop-offs.
Wales’ Menai StraitOne particular renowned diving area in Wales is along the Menai Strait, the narrow stretch of tidal water that separates Anglesey from the mainland. Situated in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this spot attracts divers with the richness and variety of its habitats on the constantly changing reef.
The seabed is coated in a thick layer of sponges that, in the right conditions, can appear both stunning and dramatic. First timers to the site might be put off by the seemingly murky waters, but the those that dive under will be rewarded with a wealth of marine riches.
The Calf of ManOne of the most prized spots in the north of England can be found around the Calf of Man, a small craggy island off the south-western extremity of the Isle of Man. Many believe that there is no other place in the UK that can boast such a range of dive sites within such a small area.
Whether you’re seeking cave dives, wreck dives, scenic dives or drift dives, or the whole caboodle, the Calf is an endless source of opportunities. Its clear rich blue waters offer typically excellent visibility, a rich diversity of marine life, and during the summer are a popular hangout for basking sharks.
Perhaps its most hallowed spot is the Burroo, a remarkable dive site jutting off the southern extremity of the Calf, where the wild weather, intricate coastal topography and fierce tidal forces have helped cultivate a home for a mind-boggling array of habitats.
The Shetland IslesWith the Shetland archipelago boasting literally hundreds of rocky inlets, caves, bays and fjords, stacks, skerries and even a few subterranean passageways, as well as crystal clear waters more associated with the southern Pacific, it not surprising that these islands off the north east coast of Scotland are a paradise for divers. Many even believe that for rich diverse marine life, there simply is no better place.
Amongst the popular Shetland dive sites are the many wrecks around the main port town of Lerwick, with the iron steamship Gwladmena, the massive Glen Isla steamship – both sunk around 90 years ago – and the hulking and hugely impressive Latvian Klondiker Lunokhods being particular sources of fascination for divers.
The islands of Bressay and Noss boast an incredible number of caves and caverns – some of which stretch back hundreds of metres - that are ripe for exploration. The Giant’s Legs, on the southernmost tip of Bressay, is a popular haunt for divers.