Although the United Kingdom is far from your typical tropical destination with magnificent, clear waters and a warm, welcoming climate, diving in the UK is an experience that is not to be dismissed. Many divers find that the challenging conditions add great value to their diving skill set and there are indeed many interesting sites to visit in both fresh and sea water.
The United Kingdom is divided into England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Interestingly, no one in the UK lives more than 120 km away from some form of sea or ocean, so it is understandable that scuba diving has taken off in terms of popularity despite the cold waters. The UK is separated from continental Europe by the English Channel to the south. The Irish and Celtic Seas and Atlantic Ocean are situated to the west of the UK and the east is governed by the North Sea. With so much water available to them, UK residents and divers from all over the world have now taken up the sport of scuba diving and the reports are that it is definitely worth a shot.
Best Diving Destinations in the United Kingdom
Both above ground and underwater, the landscape of the UK is extremely varied. With mountains, lowlands and wetlands all situated in relatively close proximity and a number of large bodies of water surrounding the small island, it is understandable that large variations in conditions occur. The temperature of the water is also responsible for some rather unique marine animals that are not generally found in warmer waters such as minke whales and thresher sharks. Due to its colourful history and strong presence in world wars, the waters of the UK boast a number of wrecks which now make for very interesting and historically relevant dive sites.
England itself has a magnificent coastline, with Devon and Cornwall in the south being rather popular with surfers and scuba divers alike. The saltwater diving here will provide divers with the chance to explore abandoned lighthouse stations and eerie ship wrecks.
Plymouth on the south coast is also an ideal location for a number of different dive sites including a US navy ship that was hit by a German torpedo in 1945 and now lies at a depth of 22 metres surrounded by colourful anemones.
Within the Bristol Channel lies Lundy Island, a protected reserve which boasts about 40 local dive sites and an impressive variety of sea bird species above the water’s surface. Here divers have the option of diving on reefs, pinnacles, drift diving or wreck diving.
On the east side of the UK, the North Sea reveals enormous shoals of pelagics and dive sites in the Farne Islands present the unique opportunity to dive with a seal community living nearby. The slightly warmer Atlantic Ocean offers a large variety of fish that can be seen from some of the western diving locations.
If you’re out for a mystifying adventure with almost guaranteed visibility, the Scilly Isles are where your search for adventure should begin. Visibility can be up to 25 metres here and helps divers shed light on the rumours of forgotten settlements and sunken communities in the area.
As many as 400 wrecks are known to be scattered along the coastline of Northern Ireland. Over 20 wrecks are situated in the Belfast Lough inlet alone, allowing divers of all levels to explore important pieces of history spanning the last century and beyond. Divers are sure to experience major thrills in the challenging and ever-changing environments of these dive sites which offer great variety in marine life such as interesting-looking octopi, crabs and big horse mussels.
In Wales, the Menai Straits is a narrow channel of water with strong tides and an abundance of marine life. In fact, an estimated 1000 different marine species can be found in this area. Although visibility is often only in the range of 3 to 4 metres, diving at Menai Straits still proves to be very popular amongst divers.
In Scotland, divers will be intrigued by the many wonders kept hidden in both salt water and fresh water locations. A number of wrecks are available to explore with old merchant trawlers and war battle ships lying at the depths of these waters. It is also possible to dive in the many lochs in Scotland such as Loch Fyne, which is a coastal loch offering wrecks and submarines and sightings of oysters, basking sharks and friendly dolphins. It is also possible to see large feather starfish, squat lobsters and conger eels here. With such a large array of marine life and interesting dive sites to explore, it’s no wonder that Loch Fyne is the most well-known and frequented diving site in Scotland.
Getting to the United Kingdom
For travellers from near and far, the UK is relatively pain-free when it comes to arranging travel both into and within the region. With 5 major airports in London and international airports in Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast, divers should not struggle to get around to visit the various dive sites. Public transportation is quite well organised in the UK with a large network of busses, trains and underground railways to get you where you need to go.
When to Visit the United Kingdom
Due to its location, weather in the UK is rather varied and unpredictable. Overall, the temperate maritime climate results in warmer weather in July and August but with rain being fairly well-distributed throughout the year, you are likely to experience rain at all times of the year in the United Kingdom. May, June, September and October would probably be the best choices for a UK diving holiday based on the outside temperature and favourable conditions.
Where to Stay in the United Kingdom
With diving sites located in the interior waterways as well as all over the coast of the United Kingdom, choosing a place to stay is largely dependent on which dive sites you plan to visit. Travelling within the United Kingdom via public transportation is relatively simple and can be done by plane, train, bus or car.