SCUBA DIVING UNITED KINGDOM
Made up of four countries; England Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the UK (United Kingdom) isn’t normally the first place you think of when it comes to a scuba diving holiday.
However, while the weather may be bleak, and the water may be cold, there are some pretty incredible finds under the waves of this part of the world.
UNITED KINGDOM DIVING
We recognize that although everyone would love to visit a great dive destination like the UK, it can be a little daunting finding first-hand information online, that gives you enough of that ease of mind to make you comfortable enough to plan your trip.
Planning and organizing a big dive trip, far from home, and finding accurate information on where to dive, where to stay, what dive shops to use, what seasons to visit, costs, attractions you should see on land, and more, makes it a bit stressful.
But it doesn’t have to be.
As fellow scuba travelers, we feel your pain when it comes to getting reliable information to organize our dive trips, so we have put together this guide to help with any information you will need!
If you still have questions about scuba diving in the UK, feel free to ask them in the comments below, or shoot us an email!
| Around England |
A marine sanctuary, Lundy Island is home to a rich variety of wildlife. The biggest draw here is the local seal colony. It’s a breeding colony, you if you are lucky you will get to see some fluffy pups.
The seals here are known for their playfulness and have been caught nibbling on diver’s fins in an attempt to play. There is no dive outfitter on the island, so you will have to use one from Clovelly.
CORNWALL & PLYMOUTH
Cornwall is one of the top dive destinations in the UK. Plenty of coastline and easy access makes it a great pick for vacationers looking to combine their diving with some sight-seeing.
As with many other dive sites across the UK, Cornwall is home to several impressive shipwrecks that divers are able to explore. There are also plenty of seals and, during the summer months, you may see basking sharks, killer whales, and dolphins.
The Farne Islands are made up of about 30 or so small islands off the coast of Northumberland.
It’s home to plenty of birds and marine life, including seals of which there are somewhere between 4000-5000 spread across the islands.
The Farne Islands offer scenic diving but are best known for the wrecks. The area is known to be a dangerous ship passageway, meaning there is plenty in the depths for avid wreck enthusiasts to explore.
The Jurassic Coast of this part of England is a popular UNESCO World Heritage site. However, as beautiful as it is aboveground, there is lots to discover underwater as well.
Sharks, seals, shipwrecks, and more can be seen in the numerous dive sites along this coastline. Lyme Bay is a popular spot for wreck enthusiasts as the remains of many WWI and WWII ships and German U-boats lie on the sea bottom.
ISLE OF MAN
Clear waters with plenty of marine life make the Isle of Man a popular dive destination in the UK.
The best area to go is the Calf of Man, in the south-west of the island.
Rocky topography, tons of marine life, and some mysterious wrecks make it an intriguing dive destination.
| Around Scotland |
St. Kilda is fast becoming one of the top scuba diving spots in the UK.
Ancient volcanic activity means the area is covered in cave networks and tunnels; some of the best in the world.
The waters here are quite clear and the area has a reputation for being home to ‘the finest collection of marine life in the UK’.
Loch Fyne is Scotland’s second largest sea loch. Because it is protected, diving is available year round.
Plenty of small critters, anemones, and the occasional basking shark can be found here.
Despite the silty waters, visibility here is usually quite good unless after a heavy rainfall.
ISLE OF MULL
The Isle of Mull is known for its unpolluted waters that attract tons of wildlife including basking sharks, minke whales, and dolphins.
There are a few wrecks here and lots of options for novice divers.
Scotland’s Summer Isles are considered to be one of the area’s best kept secrets when it comes to scuba diving in the UK.
There are 15 wrecks and tons of reefs and shoals. Caves, vertical walls, and lots of marine life make it a great pick.
The Shetlands are one of the most picturesque diving sites in Ireland.
Cliff walls covered in colorful anemones make it a favourite for underwater photographers.
Plus, there is no sediment, which means that dive sites across the Shetlands always offer clear visibility.
The Orkney Islands are known for their war history, and the scuttling of the German fleet is one of the most interesting stories both in terms of local history but also for divers.
At the end of WWI in Scapa Flow, the admiral ordered his fleet to scuttle their own ships to prevent their enemies from getting the German military materials.
| Around Wales |
A gorgeous coastline dotted with more than 350 wrecks and plenty of drift dive opportunities that are suitable for divers of all levels.
One of the biggest draws of Pembrokeshire is that it is home to one of only 3 marine nature reserves in the UK: The Skomer Marine Natural Reserve.
Located in north-west Wales, Anglesey has miles of coastline filled with exciting dive sites. The area is known for its reefs and its wrecks.
The wrecks here are especially popular with new and novice divers as they are pretty safe to explore.
| Around Northern Ireland |
Wrecks, reefs, and drop-offs are what the north coast of Northern Ireland’s dive sites are known for.
Diver’s will need to keep an eye on currents and water conditions to access the many of the dive sites, but it’s worth it.
A great place for wreck diving, Strangford Lough, located on the east coast of Northern Ireland (not too far from Belfast) is home to about 15 dive sites.
What makes this area truly special is that it is a popular pupping spot for basking sharks.
Basking sharks are most often seen between the months of May to September.
The UK may not have tropical coral reefs, but the waters around these four countries are teeming with marine life. From the big stuff to teeny tiny macro critters.
While there isn’t anything particularly unique to scuba diving the UK, here are a few things that are definitely worth getting excited about.
- Basking Sharks: Quite common in dive sites across the UK. The high season for them is May to September.
- Seals: Common along the coastlines of the UK. They tend to be quite friendly and curious.
- Whales: Minke whales and killer whales can occasionally be seen off the coastal areas of the UK.
- Mola Mola: Keep an eye out for this rare find in the open water during the summer months.
- Dolphins: Bottle nose dolphins and common dolphins are common across the UK.
UNITED KINGDOM TRAVEL INFO
The UK, or United Kingdom, is made up of four different countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Note that the UK is different from Great Britain which only includes three of the four countries; England, Scotland, and Wales.
English is commonly spoken across all countries; however, some countries also have their own languages. In Wales the second official language is Welsh.
In Scotland, they also speak Scots and Scottish Gaelic, and in Northern Ireland there are two additional languages; Irish and a local variety of Scots called Ulster Scots. Accents also differ across each country and within the countries themselves.
The currency used across the UK is the British Pound Sterling (GBP). However, each of the country produces its own notes.
Travellers should know that some places outside of Northern Ireland may not accept GBP bills and coins from Northern Ireland. So, if possible, try to get your currency from England which is widely accepted across the four countries.
Between all four countries, there are 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the UK. Twenty-six of these are cultural, four are natural, and one is mixed.
Stonehenge is probably the best known UNESCO World Heritage site in the UK though the cities of Edinburgh and Bath, along with the Tower of London, are all quite popular to visit as well.
HOW TO GET TO UNITED KINGDOM
Travellers from the United States will have to fly into the UK. There are a few international airports depends on which country you want to fly into, however, when it comes to the most routes and likely the cheapest routes, your best bet is normally to fly into London, England.
London has two main international airports: Heathrow and Gatwick. It’s worth looking at both to compare pricing.
If you want to start in Scotland, the cheapest flights will be to either Glasgow or Edinburgh and if you are looking to start in Northern Ireland check flights to Belfast or even Dublin which is only a couple hour drive away.
VISA INFO FOR AMERICANS
American passport holders traveling to the UK do not need a visa. Travelers can stay up to six months in the UK for travel purpose.
You may, however, be asked to show proof of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay and/or proof of exit (i.e. a return ticket).
The UK is not part of the Schengen area, so you can spend the maximum amount of time in the UK, if you wish, then move on to another country in Europe.
If you are not an American citizen, please do your research ahead of time to confirm your visa requirements.
When it comes to scuba diving, and even traveling, in the UK, there tends to be a lot of questions. We’ve tried to cover the most asked about topics in this guide to help you plan your dream trip to the UK.
If we missed something, or if you have a question, just pop it in the comments and we will answer right away.
How much does it cost to dive in the UK?
When it comes to scuba diving in the UK, there are a few things you will need to take into consideration regarding the costs.
First and foremost, scuba diving in Europe does tend to be much pricier than in other parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia.
Secondly, the British Pound is stronger than the dollar, thirdly, you will likely have to rent appropriate gear (unless you are a regular cold water diver).
Of course costs will differ depending on the destination and dive shop. Please don’t let pricing be the determining factor when considering a dive outfitter.
Other aspects such as safety, quality of equipment, dive instructors/guides, and reputation should always be a priority. Make sure to read reviews and research the dive fitters you intend to use ahead of time.
With that in mind, here are some average estimates of scuba diving costs in the UK. The range is quite large as some places also include dry suit training with their certification due to cold water temperatures.
2 Fun Dives: 100-200 GDP (depends on shore dives vs boat dives)
PADI Open Water Certification: 400-600 GDP
PADI Advanced Open Water Certification: 400-600 GDP
PADI Rescue and EFR Course: 500-600 GDP
They also do Divemaster internships if you’re interested in a awesome experience, as well as instructor development. Prices for diving and courses vary, but you get the idea of what to expect.
How do I get Around the UK?
Getting around the UK is pretty easy, with many travel options. If you are short on time, or don’t want to waste your time travelling, you will want to look into the local flights.
There are several airports across the UK and airfare can be purchased at a low cost if booked well in advance. However, if you are bringing your own scuba gear with you, it could get quite expensive in terms of baggage fees.
The second option is to rely on public transit; busses and trains. There are local options in the cities as well as options that will take you to the different countries (expect for Northern Ireland, since it is across the Irish Sea).
Your third option is to rent a car. This will allow you the most freedom and is a great option if you plan on travelling throughout the UK, or even just throughout one of the UK’s countries.
Note that in the UK, they drive on the left side of the road and manual cars are far more common than automatic cars.
BEST TIME FOR DIVING
Let’s be honest, the UK isn’t really known for having great weather. It’s often overcast and grey with plenty of rain and wind. Some areas in the Scottish Highlands will get snow, and a truly hot sunny day anywhere is very rare.
With that in mind it makes sense that the best time of year to visit is during the summer months. When it’s a bit warmer and drier. Of course, this is when the majority of tourists tend to visit the UK which can mean an increase in prices in everything from airfare to accommodation, and of course plenty of crowds.
To help avoid this, we suggest trying to visit on the shoulder season (spring or autumn).
In terms of scuba diving, the waters of the UK are the warmest from June to October, hovering between 55F-60F.
Not surprisingly, this is the most common scuba diving season in the UK, especially since it’s when you are most likely to see some of the UK’s coolest marine species.
The United Kingdom is a state made up of the historic countries of England, Wales and Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland is an island nation in northwestern Europe.
It is known as the home of both modern parliamentary democracy and the Industrial Revolution. Also, it is a constitutional monarchy comprising much of the British Isles.
The United Kingdom remains an economic and military power with great political and cultural influence around the globe.
The total land area in United Kingdom is approximately 242,495 square kilometers, and with roughly 65.7 million inhabitants.
Capital city of United Kingdom: London
Currency of United Kingdom: The currency in United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling
Official Language of United Kingdom: English is the official language of United Kingdom
Click HERE to see the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in United Kingdom