According to an estimate by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, there are 20 million scuba divers in the world. A significant portion of these divers live in Wales, which may come as a surprise to most people. Tropical locations are stereotyped as scuba Shangri-las, but Wales is full of spectacular diving spots. Yes, Wales is more than just castles, sheep, and friendly people; it’s a coastal country with coastal wonders ready to be discovered.
St Brides Haven
Located in Pembrokeshire county in the southwest, St Brides Haven is a beach on a bay that shares the same name. St Brides, the beach not the bay, is sheltered by the surrounding cliffs, making it a desirable place for scuba divers who prefer intimacy over pageantry. But once such people break the surface of St Brides, human intimacy gives way to natural pageantry. A kelp forest and reef rule the underwater arena, which are filled with creatures like lobster, dogfish, and flounder. There are also various depths so that divers of all skill levels can enjoy St Brides.
Skomer Island Marine Reserve
Another Pembrokeshire diving spot is Skomer Island Marine Reserve. “Reserve” is the key word; this spot is protected from all kinds of intrusions except for scuba diving. In fact, diving is one of Skomer Island’s main draws. Divers can expect to see beautiful reefs, fascinating wrecks, and animals from seals to dolphins to catfish and seahorses. As anyone can infer, Skomer Island is less isolated and more cosmopolitan than St Brides – there’s even a gift shop selling Welsh-centric products. However, the bay has enough secluded spots for renegade divers to explore.
Shipwrecks are popular among divers, and for good reason. They’re aesthetic, historical, and inspire just enough fear to make a dive extra exciting. The SS Missouri, a shipwreck 42 feet below the surface of Anglesey, is a prime example. On its own, this fragmented iron steamship is one of the best dive sites in Wales. Despite being broken in several pieces, the SS Missouri retains much of the grandeur that it had in 1880. It’s also frequented by fish and crustaceans.
Wales is an underrated scuba destination. Although it’s far from the tropics, the country is home to diving sites that are teeming with wildlife, reefs, and wrecks. Wales can help change the stereotype that scuba diving is an equatorial activity.