Diving Britain – Wales

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Wales is known for mountainous national parks, wind-swept beaches, lively cities such as Cardiff and a rich Celtic heritage. It is home to the much-loved Bara Brith tea cake, the Red Dragon and Wales is the land of mythical King Arthur. There are a variety of dive sites to enjoy in Wales, with a number of the best sites in Pembrokeshire and Anglesey.

The average water temperature is 7-9°C in March to May and peaks at 17°C in August and September. The diving season is March to October and a drysuit with thermal undersuit are recommended for comfort. Average dive visibility is 5-15 metres but can exceed this considerably in good dive conditions. We recommend divers always carry as DSMB and torch and consider tide tables and local conditions before planning a dive.

Here are some of the top dive sites in Wales:

Skomer Marine Reserve, Marloes Peninsula

The Skomer Marine reserve is the only statutory Marine Nature Reserve in Wales and contains a number of dive sites including an intact wreck at 40m named Lucy, walls that descend to 50m, drift and scenic dives suitable for experienced and novice divers. Skomer is considered to offer some of the best diving in Wales and is home to sea horses, octopus, nudibranchs and seals to name but a few. The area is famous for pink seafans and the island itself is home to puffins and Manx Shearwaters. Divers are requested to follow the regulations and use the safety information for the reserve. Try Dive Pembrokeshire.

Stack Rocks/Hen and Chicks, Pembrokeshire

These collections of rocks are a twenty-minute boat ride out to sea from Little Haven. The dive sites here are easily accessible, making them popular in season, and the dive depths are 5-24 metres. These dive sites offer some of the best visibility in the area and are home to large trigger fish during the summer, seals and a variety of fish life including butterfish, wrasse and mackerel. Spider crabs and lobster can also be seen alongside dead mans fingers and colourful jewel anemones. There are pinnacles and sand dunes with scallops to explore and the dive conditions are suitable for novice divers. Try West Wales Dive Company.

Martin’s Haven, St Brides Bay, Pembrokeshire

This is one of the UK’s deepest shore dives and depths of 30 metres can be reached at high tide. There are two accessible dives from the shore. The west side of the bay offers an abundance of nudibranch species and a series of ledges between 12 and 25 metres depth. There is also a brittle star bed, lobsters and scallops. As this area is part of a marine reserve, there is a no-take policy. The east of the bay provides a dive up to 15 metres depth and is known for its shallow reef with abundant sponges, squat lobsters and octopuses. Always use an SMB when diving here due to boat traffic.

Anglesey

Anglesey is home to a number of beautiful dive sites, has over 400 shipwrecks and is also has an annual ScubaFest in August each year. Puffin Island is known for diving with seals that come close to divers and there are also a number of reef dives there up to depths of 35 metres. The wreck of the SS Missouri, a four-masted steamship, is a well-known dive that lies on sand at 13m depth and is unaffected by currents. As such, it offers a fantastic introduction to wreck diving and has abundant fish life. The Royal Charter, a steam clipper, lies in 4-6 metres of water and can be dived from the shore. The coastline of Anglesey is unique and provides drop offs, cliffs and pinnacles and night diving is possible at Treardur Bay. Divers should be aware of jet ski users during the day at some dive sites and the tidal conditions. Try Odyssey Dive Centre and Dive Anglesey.

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About Author

Kathryn has lived in the UK, Egypt, South Africa and New Zealand and is a trained scuba diving instructor and Great White shark safari guide. She is the author of No Damage (December 2014), the Managing Editor of The Scuba News New Zealand, a freelance writer, public speaker and co-founder of the marine conservation cause Friends for Sharks (August 2014). In 2015 she organised and completed a 10-month global speaking tour in aid of shark conservation: 87 events, 8 countries, 7000 people. Learn more about Kathryn’s book, No Damage at: http://www.kathrynhodgsonauthor.com/books/no-damage/

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