Is there anything nicer than diving in a 3mm wetsuit or even only in a swimming suit, off the coast of Thailand or Mexico? It is true that tropical reefs offer it all to us scuba divers, but with more experience, we feel eager to try different types of underwater adventures.
Is it enough to dare to dive in water where the temperature can be between 14°C and 2°C? Fortunately thanks to drysuits, you can now explore any cold sea without fearing to turn into an ice cube.
Because they are a second source of buoyancy, as you inflate air inside instead of a BCD, you need to learn how to use them by doing your drysuit diving specialty. When you become a drysuit diver, your scuba diving horizons expand dramatically.
Here are five extraordinary locations, known either for their breathtaking underwater landscapes, or the incredible encounters you can have for drysuit diving!
1. Silfra, Thingvellir Park, Iceland
There are thousands of good reasons to visit Iceland. This remote volcanic island of the North Atlantic Ocean possesses lunar lava fields, black sandy beaches, striking turquoise blue lakes, dramatically carved waterfalls and geological wonders such as geysers.
Being a scuba diver, you are lucky enough to be able to experience one of the best cold water dives in the world: Silfra Fissure. Located between the European and American tectonic plates, you dive in water so pure that the visibility can reach 100m. You are swimming, but it feels more like you are flying!
2. Beagle Channel, Ushuaia, Argentina
Argentina, another great spot for drysuit diving, is a huge country. From Iguazu Falls near Brazil, with its tropical climate, to Tierra del Fuego with its sub-Antarctic climate, it is 4300km of infinite wilderness through Patagonia. You can fly direct from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, but the two-day bus ride is worth it.
Approaching Tierra del Fuego, it includes a ferry crossing Magellan Strait and a ride through Chile. Ushuaia, called the “end of the world”, is the most austral town in the world. The Beagle Channel, separating Argentina to Chile, is surrounded by snowy mountains.
In 4°C water on average, swimming through the kelp forests you can hope to encounter leopard seals, killer whales and the delicious southern king crab. If you cannot make it to Antarctica, this is the closest you can get.
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3. Oban & the Sound of Mull, Scotland
The Highlands and the Hebrides, the Haggis and the whisky distilleries, the music of the bagpipe in a Glen or a folk band in a pub: which traveller has never dreamt about exploring Scotland?
If it was not enough, this dream destination for many conceals some top drysuit diving destinations. Although the 74 WWI wrecks of Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands are quite famous, few know that you can dive with the second largest fish in the world after the whale shark: the basking shark.
From the charming port of Oban, known for its delicious fresh seafood, you can meet these underwater giants in the Sound of Mull. While admiring them, you can look for colourful dahlia anemones and playful squat lobsters.
4. Lioson Lake, Les Mosses, Switzerland
Skiing and Chocolate? You still think this what Switzerland is all about? What about going up in the snowy Alps in the middle of the winter (up to 1850m of altitude) to dive under the ice of a frozen lake?
The adventure is not only about the dive itself, which is quite short: about 20 minutes, because of the extreme conditions. It is also about careful preparation. You need to climb the mountain in snowshoes, to cut holes in the ice, fix ropes for safety and to assemble your scuba diving kit indoors to avoid it freezing.
Every stage is important to make the dive enjoyable. The reward? The hypnotic blue glow under the ice and a tasty cheese fondue after it!
5. Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Canada: the land of immense outdoors, of thousands of lakes surrounded by pine tree forests, of bears and beavers is a top scuba diving and drysuit diving destination. In its chilly water, drysuit divers may have the opportunity to encounter whales.
There are fin and humpback whales in the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, belugas in Hudson Bay, Manitoba, and killer whales around Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The latter offers the best scuba diving experience thanks to its different sites all around the island. They are very different and enjoyable in their ways.
In the north, you can find Nakwato Rapids: a high current area with walls carpeted in anemones and nudibranchs. Down the coast to Victoria, you can also dive with sea lions in Race Rocks.
Credit Photo Iceland/Argentina/Scotland/Switzerland: Florine, World Adventure Divers
Also read: Black Water Photography