DISCOVER THE 9 BEST BRITISH DIVE DESTINATIONS

10/15/2019

Whilst you might not think of Britain as a top scuba diving location, this diverse destination actually has numerous great dive sites.

There is plenty of marine life to find, including seals and basking sharks, whilst the dramatic underwater landscapes range from drop-offs and caves to thriving kelp forests and reefs.

Britain is also a fantastic destination for wreck diving.

Wherever you choose to dive, make sure you pack a good wetsuit to keep you warm in the notoriously chilly waters. This guide to the best scuba wetsuits for 2019 includes 10 of the best wetsuits for temperate and cold waters.

You’ll also need to keep an eye on the tides and dive with a DSMB if you’re heading off the coast at any point.

Here is our pick of Britain’s best dive destinations to try.

THE SOUTH WEST

Home to much-loved tourist hotspots Devon and Cornwall, the South West of England has a variety of wreck dives, sea caves, reefs, and plenty of wildlife, including seals and basking sharks. It’s a picturesque summer dive destination to try.

Water temperature: 6-10 °C in winter, 15-20 °C in the summer.

When to go: All year, with the best visibility in winter.

Lundy Island

Lundy Island, in the Bristol Channel is just 12 miles off Devon and is a well-preserved marine conservation zone.

Dive there, and you can explore natural reefs, sea caves, pinnacles, and go diving with inquisitive seals. Lundy is rightly known as one of Britain’s best dive destinations.

You’ll need to organize a charter boat to dive this special island, and there are a number of operators available. The diving is suitable for novice to experienced divers, and there are plenty of snorkeling options as well.

The Scilly Isles

This isolated archipelago off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, offers white-sand beaches stretching to the horizon and unspoiled islands that host a variety of species above and in the water.

The mild climate of the islands make the diving more comfortable than other British dive destinations.

You won’t be bored with over 150 dive sites to choose from, including wrecks, pinnacles, and reefs. This is also another great place to dive with seals.

THE SOUTH COAST

The south coast of England is every bit as beautiful as the South West and is known for the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jurassic Coast. Go diving there, and you’ll be immersed in the UK’s wreck diving mecca.

Water temperature: 6-10 °C in winter, 15-20 °C in the summer.

When to go: All year. September and October are the warmest months for diving.

MR Portland, Lyme Bay

This World War I submarine is 90m long and is a popular dive site, thanks to being mostly undamaged. You can spot huge conger eels hiding in holes along the wreck and the port side hosts a variety of temperate marine life.

If you’re a fan of wreck penetration, you’re in luck. You can swim inside the hanger. Just be careful of the currents, which are known to be strong other than during slack tide.

HMS/mA1, Chichester

The HMS/mA1 submarine is Britain’s first submarine dive trail, one of four such trails of protected wrecks opened to divers since 2009. This Royal Navy vessel sank in 1991 and is in just 12m of water, making her very accessible.

WALES

Wind-swept and wild Wales has a variety of dive sites, with some of the best being in Pembrokeshire and Anglesey.

Water temperature: 7-9 °C in Spring, 17 °C in the summer.

When to go: March to October.

Skomer Marine Reserve, Marloes Peninsula

This marine reserve contains a variety of dive sites, including an intact wreck, Lucy, and walls that drop down to 50m. You can go drift diving or enjoy easier-going scenic dives depending on your experience level.

Make sure you look closely to spot Skomer’s seahorses, nudibranchs, and octopi amongst the pink seafans.

The local seals will no doubt come and find you in the water, and if you look on the island itself, you can spot puffins.

Anglesey Island

Anglesey has some fantastic dives and over 400 shipwrecks. Scuba diving is popular on this island and there is an annual ScubaFest every August.

Dive landscapes include drop-offs, cliffs, and pinnacles. It’s also a great place to go night diving.

For yet more encounters with seals, make sure you dive off Puffin Island. You can also go reef diving there.

The SS Missouri, a four-masted steamship, is at 13m depth and offers a wreck dive in minimal currents. The waters there are full of fish.

For an even shallower dive, the Royal Charter wreck lies in just 4-6m of water and is a fun shore dive for all.

THE NORTH & SCOTLAND

The North of England and Scotland host some of Britain’s best-known dive destinations, including the UNESCO-listed St Kila and the Isle of Man.

For basking sharks and world-class wreck diving, this is the place to go.

Water temperature: 4 °C in Spring, 14 °C in the summer.

When to go: March to October.

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has excellent diving and plentiful marine life, including seals and basking sharks.

There are over 1500 shipwrecks off the Isle of Man, and the south of the island offers great diving, especially at the Calf of Man marine reserve.

Burroo at the Calf has plenty of crustaceans, nudibranchs, and shoals of fish, plus resident grey seals at the surface.

The real highlight though is swimming with basking sharks. Visit the Isle of Man from May to July, and you have a great chance of seeing these large sharks.

You can also organize a trip specifically to find and snorkel with these ancient-looking sharks.

St. Kilda

St. Kilda, an archipelago of islands 40 miles offshore from the Outer Hebrides, is known for its exceptionally clear waters.

St. Kilda’s cave and tunnel dives are some of the best in Europe and are suitable for experienced divers only. While you can spot seals and puffins in the water, the real highlight is the underwater landscapes that await you.

Skapa Flow

Mention British diving, and most people think of Skapa Flow. This famous dive destination is renowned for its history and wreck diving.

At the end of World War I, the German High Seas Fleet was held at Skapa and was scuttled by the German commander who feared the vessels would be divided up amongst the allies. Fifty-two of the 74 vessels sank and remain there today.

The wrecks attract divers from around the world, and there are wrecks suitable for novice and experienced divers.

Skapa Flow has very clear water from December to March, and there are numerous dive operators in the area.

This article was written by Kathryn Curzon; a shark conservationist and dive travel writer. Follow her adventures at www.kathryncurzon.com.

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