Scuba Diving in Ireland
Being on the edge of Western Europe’s continental shelf means that Ireland is perfectly suited for scuba diving and you can dive all year with over a hundred diving clubs in Ireland. Ireland boasts a cool maritime climate, lots of rainfall and no real extremes in temperature. The temperature is cool and clement all year round, perfect for scuba diving and the beautiful, rugged coastline gives rise to one of the most beautiful underwater scenery you would ever find.
The proximity to the Gulf Stream and warm sea makes for an abundant marine life in Ireland. The marine life ranges from corals, sea anemones to conger eels, dogfishes to frogfishes, dolphins to octopuses. And probably one of the most breathtaking sights is the basking shark which visits Ireland’s coast every spring. Even the plant life is plenty with some dive sites offering dense fern forests, and others, more coral than you would expect this far off from the equator.
Dive operators on the island teach the world-standard PADI courses, with most offering a one-day Discover Scuba Diving course, Advanced Open Water, PADI certified Open Water Diver, and Rescue Driver courses.
Ireland has some of the richest wrecks worldwide with Irish Wrecks Online listing over 10,000 vessels sunk, scuttled, stranded, and even torpedoed in Irish waters in the last few hundred years. Ther’s also the unique experience of diving a scuttled U-boat, a sunken bulk carrier (the largest in the world) or a mined WWI battleship.
Up the coastline at the Galway Dive School, there’s a chance to dive in Lough Corrib for a night time dive or go cave diving. Other popular dive locations are:
- The coasts of Co. Kerry and Co. Cork far up the south-west;
- The coasts of Co. Galway, Co. Clare and Co. Mayo in the far west, including a few famous sites off the Achill Island and Aran Islands and the inland Lough Conn;
- The coast of Donegal far north-west;
- Wreck dives off the coast of Dublin on the east coast;
- Strangford Lough, a large sea inlet on the northeastern coast;
- Some inland freshwater dives in various lakes and quarries across the country.
Getting to Ireland is quite easy. The main international airports are in Dublin on the east coast, Shannon on the west coast and Belfast in the northeast. There are also direct flights from London which are approximately an hour long. It’s recommended you hire a car if you are planning a dive in Ireland as most of the dive sites are in remote locations.
Safety is a critical aspect of scuba diving and there are several hyperbaric chambers operational in Dublin, Cork, Craigavon Co. Armagh and Haulbowline Co. Cork. Also, depending on your insurance cover, there are a number of other private operators which, may be accessible so it’s best you check with your insurer before travelling.
There’s a lot to see for novice and experienced divers alike and with more than 80 independent dive shops with an affiliation with of PADI and a couple others from BSAC, SSI and others.