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Scuba Diving in the UK

Water temperature:

5°C (41°F) in winter to 18°C (64°F) in summer (southern England), 4°C (39°F) in winter to 13°C (55°F) in summer (Scotland)


Drysuit for most of the year, but a semidry is sufficient from June to October, or all year round if you are hardy enough!


1 - 25 metres (3 - 80 feet)

Type of diving:

Wrecks, caves, reefs, walls, piers, caverns, kelp forests

Marine life:

Basking sharks, seals, cuttlefish, octopus, conger eels, lobsters, crabs, seahorses, bib, pollack, bass, wrasse, blennies, gobies... and so on

When to go:

Some divers in the UK dive throughout the year, by making use of inland sites. Diving in the sea is generally possible from April through to October. Undeniably conditions are more pleasant in the summer months when temperatures are warmer and the sea is calmer

How to get there:

Fly to one of the UK's many airports, and then make a journey by train, car, or bus to the coast using the UK's extensive transport network. There is no water in the UK that isn't considered as a potential dive site!


For many of the people who use dive site directory, diving in the UK is simply not an option. If it has, in the unlikely event, even been considered, it was probably in a momentary lapse of mental balance and was most likely rapidly disregarded. This article is for all those people. I don't need to convince the tens of thousands of UK divers that it is fantastic - there is no need, the fact that between them they amass millions of dives in UK waters every year tells you that they already know why.

Wreck diving is one of the most popular pastimes of the average British diver. The bulk of a ship that has laid undisturbed on the seafloor for years or decades holds a certain thrill be it in the UK or abroad. It is fortunate then for those who dive in the UK that Britain is blessed with more ship wrecks than any other country in the world. We are even starting to sink some specifically for divers just for good measure! The best estimate of the number of ships lost in our coastal waters is over a quarter of a million. Most of these shipwrecks are the result of collisions, storms and bad navigation. There is also the large number of casualties from the First and Second World Wars - a number nearing 7500. If that isn't reason to come here enough, it may surprise you to learn that life is no less prolific on some UK wrecks than if you were diving in some tropical lagoon.

Fingles Cave

If that has not whetted your appetite, look to the UK's reefs to do so. Under the water in the UK it is as beautiful and varied as it is on the surface. We have extensive cave systems, deep wall dives, picturesque sandy bays, piers, fast flowing drifts, rocky chimneys, fissures and gulleys and cold water reefs. All of these harbour life and the life found in our temperate waters is found in abundance. We have sharks, seals and otters. We have conger eels, seahorses, octopus, cuttlefish and shoals of fish in huge varieties.

However, if you have done your diver training in warm water and want to make the switch to cold water, there are some considerations to be made. Journeys out to dive sites can be gruelling with the traditional British weather turning even the strongest of stomachs. The visibility can be chronically bad, the water is cold - sometimes only 3 to 4°C, and the amount of extra kit you have to carry means it is not possible to change over from warm water diving to cold water diving instantly.

These points are all worst cases. And even worst cases are more than tolerable once you get to understand what conditions will be like. Did you know that seasickness disappears instantly as soon as you get in the water? I don't know how to explain this phenomenon, but I know for a fact it's true. If the visibility is bad, so what? It means you can take the opportunity to notice the detail that you would otherwise have missed. Hermit crabs moving over the sand leaving behind distinctive trails, the beauty of a shell encrusted piece of rusty metal that you would otherwise have dashed past, the rush as a fish suddenly darts into view before disappearing again into the dark and never knowing quite what you may come across until you are on top of it. Many sites in the UK have good visibility towards the end of the summer and Cornwall and Scotland are blessed with good visibility for most of the year.

As for the cold, technology has provided us with drysuits and dry gloves. I have been colder on some tropical dives than I have on some of my UK ones, where I have been huddled cosily inside my thinsulate (what for all intents and purposes is a sleeping bag!) under my drysuit. And summer sea temperatures can reach 18°C off of the south coast of England. There are dive centres all over the UK that will be able to supply you with air, training and any form of kit, so if you fancy giving UK diving a go before shelling out on new kit it is more than possible. Go on - try it, you'll find there's a whole new side to diving that you never realised existed!

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