You would never immediately think about making Ireland your next destination for scuba diving, however from the mouth of Jacques Cousteau;
“Some of the best diving in the world is at the northern side of the Dingle Peninsular where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Brandon Mountains is a landscape of exceptional beauty”.
Wreck diving is in abundance here, with approximately 10,000 vessels, which have been sunk, scuttled, stranded or even torpedoed within Irish waters over the last 100 years. The amount of history underneath the surface is just unbelievable, providing exceptional experiences for even the most experienced scuba divers.
The majority of Ireland’s dive sites are located along the Atlantic west coast, with opportunities to shore dive as well as take day trips out on a boat.
Southern Ireland, specifically the south Cork Coastline is a must if you’re planning a dive trip to Ireland. Due to the warming influences of the Gulf Stream, diving in Ireland is unlike any other location. The Gulf Stream provides a constant supply of nutrients to the Irish waters, which in turn leads to abundant marine life. Throughout the spring and summer months, many fish migrate through the area including Basking Sharks, Mola Mola (Sunfish), Giant Barrel Jellyfish (which only feed on plankton and are therefore harmless to us). Whilst diving in the area surrounding Cork, you will usually find marine life, which are better suited to warmer climates for example, Trigger Fish and Portuguese Blenny.
With just over 500Km north to south and 300Km east to west, Ireland is not a big place, so if you are looking for incredible culture on land, a plethora of wreck dives and incredible marine life, then Ireland should be your next port of call. Here are some of the top dive sites found in Ireland…
Where is Ireland?
Top 4 Dive Sites In Ireland
Diamond Rocks, Kilkee, Ireland
Named for the quartz crystals found in the rocks that glisten in the sunlight, this dive site is exceptional. Getting to this dive site is a little tricky; maneuvering yourself over rocks, fully geared up can be a process all in itself. However, once you’re in the water, there is a reef approximately 6-9metres below the surface, which protects a deep underwater valley at around 30 meters. The sea facing side of the reef falls off in steps, which begins at around 20 meters down to 40 meters plus. The bay is absolutely beaming with life, with a landscape of rocks and gullies that are just waiting to be explored. The water at this location is crystal clear, however this is a fair weather dive only.
Black Head is the headland based inside the Old Head of Kinsale. The maximum depth of this dive site is around 17 meters, even though it’s not a deep dive, the best depth to be at is around 13 meters. With the seabed being a mixture of rocks, reef and sand gullies, it is the perfect place to see angler fish (monk fish) and behind every rock you’ll find little critters. If you’re a budding macro photographer, make sure you visit this epic dive site.
The Sante, more commonly known as The Santo was a 217 ton steam powered, bucket dredger. Whilst on her maiden voyage from Scotland to Taiwan in December 1900, a gale made the captain change course and head for Cork Harbour. On Christmas day, she sank with only 5 members of her crew being rescued. The Santo is now 28 metres below the surface (depending on the tide). The line of buckets can be seen resting on the seabed, connected to a large wheel. She has large holes in her boilers, which provide amazing peepholes that allow you to see what kind of marine life have made this incredible wreck their home.
This dive is certainly a MUST if you’re planning a trip to Ireland.
The Aud is probably the most famous shipwreck within the vicinity of the Cork Harbour. In fact, this vessel was known as the Libau and was carrying a cargo full of arms to help the 1916 Easter rising. Pretending to be The Aud, an already existing vessel (that looked similar), she left the port of Lubeck in 1916 carrying approximately 1 million rounds of ammunition, 20,000 rifles, 10 machine guns and explosives. The Aud’s final resting place is roughly 36 metres below the surface and is completely broken up. Still home to thousands of bullets, it’s a popular dive site due to its historical significance.
There are so many incredible dive sites based around Ireland, too many to fit into our top 4, however if you have a top dive site that hasn’t been mentioned in this post, don’t forget to tell us about it in the comment box below.