8 Best Dive Spots Around the UKFebruary 17, 2023
The United Kingdom may only be a small country, but its rugged coastline is packed with incredible dive sites. British wreck diving is some of the best in the world, with unique experiences off the northern tip that make every technical divers wishlist. Playful seals can be found in multiple hotspots and while the water always stays cool, there are plenty of awe-inspiring sites to be discovered underwater to distract you from the chill.
We have listed our 8 best dive spots around the UK that you will not want to miss.
1.Lundy Island, Devon, England
SInce the mid-1980s Lundy Island’s waters have been protected to preserve the nature which inhabits them. Lundy boasts some of the clearest water in the UK with visibility up to 15m if the conditions are right. There are plenty of dive sites to explore with reefs, wrecks, drop-offs and coral. There is something for everyone. Lundy has resident gray seals, their playful nature is a big draw to the dive spot but divers can also expect to see jellyfish, lobsters, mola mola, and even basking sharks in the summertime. To dive in this location you must be a certified diver and due to strong currents the spot is best suited to advanced or very experienced divers. Lundy Island can be accessed year round for diving if the weather allows, though the summer months are best for more forgiving warmer temperatures reaching around 60°F/16°C at its warmest.
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2. Holy Island, Anglesey, Wales
The Welsh island of Anglesey is often chosen as a holiday destination for British citizens instead of traveling overseas, its bountiful natural beauty expands not only on land but into the oceans. Whilst many spot marine life from the shore, it is a wasted opportunity for divers to not adventure under the waves. Discover wrasse, nudibranchs, blennies, anemones, octopus and plenty of crustaceans.
April to September are the best month to visit for less wind and rain, British weather can never be relied upon but during wetter months strong rain and winds can impact visibility and surface currents. Holy Island offers protected coves with calm currents which are ideal for beginners, in fact the SS Missouri, which can be reached by boat, is an achievable wreck dive for a novice as it rests at a depth of 15m. The northern sea will always wake you up with water temperatures maxing out at 56°F/13°C in the summer.
If you are thinking of diving in the UK, you might want to consider completing your SSI Dry Suit Diving Specialty first.
3. Skomer Marine Reserve, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Diving in protected waters is a wonderful opportunity to take in sea life as it should be, undisturbed and free to flourish. By restricting development or fishing, Skomer marine reserve has created a thriving habitat for hundreds of species. This site includes caves, reefs, wrecks and deep wall dives where divers can see hundreds of species including over 60 species of nudibranchs, coral, catfish and anemones. There are rare seahorses for macro enthusiasts and even dolphins for fans of larger sea animals. Within the reserve there are dive sites suitable for beginners up to experts, it features one of the most popular wrecks for divers with advanced certifications, the Lucy. It is small enough that divers can explore the entire wreck during a dive and see spider crabs protecting the lost cargo. Water temperatures range from 47°F/8°C to 61°F/16°C and can be accessed throughout the year.
4. Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, Scotland
An unmissable dive spot for adventure advanced divers with a passion for wrecks and history. Scapa Flow is one of the best wreck diving areas in the world, in part due to the large number of wrecks in a small area which are easily accessible and often without challenging currents. These waters are home to Blockship Tabarka which is considered one of the best wrecks in Europe, a vessel sunken in an protective effort in WW2 that flipped upside down, submerged with its hull facing the surface at just 18m. The bones of sunken ships are now a crowded habitat for starfish, anemones, lobsters and urchins. Schools of cod, silver bellies and wrasse can be seen darting through the empty shells. Divers can also spot comb and moon jellyfish bobbing through the waters. It is possible to dive year round in Scapa Flow but as it sits above Scotland at the peak of the UK expect cold waters, averaging 43°F/6°C during winter months. These are also the best months for visibility, though days are shorter. With diving opportunities for all abilities Scapa Flow is truly unmissable.
Have you got your Wreck Diving Specialty Certification?
5. Farne Islands, Northumberland, England
Do you like seals? Of course you do! How about a dramatic rock face above and below the surface? Sure thing! Throw in 50 plus wrecks and you have got yourself the bewitching waters of Farne Islands. There is plenty to offer in these waters but the biggest pull has to be the up close interaction with gray seals. Over 5000 inhabit these waters spending days lazing on the rocks with swarms of puffins or speeding through the cool waters in search of snacks. Diving is possible year round but it is recommended to visit between August and October for unique interactions with playful seals. Be prepared for fin tugging and coming face to face with curious adolescents. Aside from seals there is plenty to explore in wrecks and the crevices of the island’s walls that are full of hidden crustaceans, vibrant nudibranchs and soft coral. Whilst being confident in the water is essential to make the most of the marine opportunities Farne Islands offer, it is possible for beginners to dive shallow waters. As ever these brisk British waters peak at 59°F/15°C but the experience will be well worth the conditions.
6. St Kilda, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, Submarine Arch, St Kilda, Scotland
No dive site in the UK is like St Kilda, starting with its crystal blue water in contrast from the UKs coastal green hues. St Kilda is 100 miles from the mainland, this isolation has preserved underwater scenery worthy of the pilgrimage. Divers can venture through underwater caves and tunnels in the presence of giant lobsters, lion’s mane jellyfish, anglerfish, blue-rayed limpets, velvet swimming crabs and rainbows of anemones. Diving from a boat on these waters can be a challenge of storms and strong currents so it is best explored by advanced divers looking for a new adventure, especially with some of the best features and marine life to be found at depth. When planning a dive at St Kilda the weather conditions will impact your dive more than the time of year, ideally summer month should offer the longest stints of calm conditions. During the summer month water can reach an average of 57°F/14°C and will dip to 39°F/4°C in the winter.
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7. Capernwray, Lancashire, England
Diving at Capernwray is a fun excursion inland, venturing into the clear waters of a flooded quarry. The quarry has been filled with plenty of underwater ornaments including a plane, cannon, wrecks and more. Due to the manufactured nature of the dive site there are plenty of features that are unique and enjoyable whether you are a complete beginner or advanced diver. Some of the features are at a depth of 20m. It is not all just submerged vessels, while diving you can see massive sturgeons reaching up to 1.8m long, as well as roach, perch and many friendly rainbow trout. The site is accessible year round with winter temperatures dipping to 41°F/5°C and peaking in the summer at 63°F/17°C. Something that sets these waters apart from the unpredictable British coast is the visibility, the clear waters allow visibility of up to 25m.
8. Malin Head, County Donegal, Northern Ireland
Malin Head is littered with some of the largest wrecks in the world, they also start at depths of over 40m calling all technical divers to come explore. The North Atlantic Ocean offers great visibility up to 40m, making the opportunity for spotting rare large sea animals including mola mola, basking sharks and bottlenose dolphins even more likely. To make the most out of a trip to Malin Head it is best to go as part of a trip or charter a boat, given the unpredictable nature of the weather summer months are the most reliable for guaranteed access. Water temperature will average around 57°F/14°C in the summer months. With over 100 war ships, tanks and the rumors of hidden gold, Malin Head makes for an unmissable cold water wreck site for any technical divers bucket list.