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Northern Ireland Diving

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Northern Ireland dive guide
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Northern Ireland has a wide variety of diving opportunities.
The North Coast is well known for its spectacular drop offs, shallow and deep reefs and wrecks. The marine life is abundant and includes dolphins, basking sharks and crabs.

Always dive according to your level of training. Never enter the water without checking with the local dive center for safety, additional information, level required for each dive site and without being accompanied by a professional. All the information provided is purely informative for our readers and shouldn't be used as is to plan your immersion.

Average air temperature during the year: 4C - 16C (39 - 60F) Average Water surface temperature: Summer 15 (C 59F) Visibility often excellent around the coast, up to 40 metres(131 feet) except after bad weather.
Coldest time: January and February
Warmest time: July and August Dry suits or 8 mm semi dry suits are recommended.

Basking sharks can be seen in the Strangford Lough in the summer months with the peak in June. Common seal sightings are common all along the coast but the Stangford Lough is the main pupping area and also has the most seals while the grey seals prefer exposed Anatrim coast.
In Northern Ireland regular sightings of at least 8 different species of whales and dolphins is reported. This includes the common dolphin, the mink whale, the bottle nose dolphin and the killer whale.

Portstewart located on the Giants Causeway has breath taking drop offs, wrecks and reefs. There are dives suitable for both novices and advanced divers.
To the east there is the famous Rathlin Island which is a paradise for wreck divers and also has drop offs and reefs for all levels of divers. To the west is the is the Inishown Peninsula in Donegal boasting lots of wrecks and scenic drift dives. Strangford Lough has many dive sites and Belfast Lough has more than 18 dive sites

Some dive locations in Northern Ireland are:

Baycastle area and Rathlin Island.
Rathlin Island is located about 6 miles (9 km) off the north coast and claimed lots of wrecks in the two world wars.
HMS Drake is the wreck of a cruiser torpedoed by U-79 sunk on 2nd October 1917. She lies in 18 metres (59 feet) of water in Church Bay,

Rathlin Island. The Drake was later broken by salvage operation and she is currently dispersed on the seabed bits of the wreck are still intact. It still makes a good dive and is one of the most popular wreck dives here.

Coastguard Hut has shallow scenic dives at Ballycastle below the cliffs.
Lough Gary a passenger ship hit the rocks on January 21st, 1942 and sunk off the east coast of Rathlin on 21st January 1942. She lies in 32 metres (104 feet) of water, is well preserved and sits upright. She makes a great dive. Beware, the currents can be strong on this site.

Templemore went down in Ballycastle Bay on 6th December 1911 due to bad weather. She's at 18 metres (59 feet) and well broken up but has lots of conger eels around the broiler section. The bow section is covered in fish life.

Carrickmannan Rock is a large shoal rising from very deep waters within 5 metres (15 feet) of the surface.

Shamrock Pinnacle about 6 miles (9 km) offshore emerges from the sea bed at around 60 metres (196 feet) to 20 metres (65 feet). Beware, this dive should be done in calm weather.

Bruces Cave Reef is a great scenic dive - Reef at entrance provides excellent scenic dive with ship wreckage of the GAVINA scattered over south side or reef. North Wall on Rathlin Island has fantastic scenery and the visibility can go up to 40 metres (131 feet). The vertical walls have lots of deadman's finders and sponges. Divers may encounter cuckoo wrasse and see some big sea caverns. In the kelp forest above there is mackerel, pollack and moon jellyfish.

Belfast Lough is full of shipwrecks. There are ships of all sizes which vary in difficulty and therefore provide something for all levels of divers. They are at depths of 10-60 metres (33-196 feet) and the visibility goes from 3-10 metres (10-33 feet). Strangford Lough is the biggest sea inlet in the British Isles. This huge inland sea has around 120 little islands and therefore gives a large choice of dive sites that can be reached.
There are more than 10 wrecks
and the sea is uasually calm. The cliffs boast big sponges and nice growths of dead mans fingers. There is also a lot of life marine including crabs, anemones and prawns as well as urchins and scallops. The visibility can go up to 10 metres (33 feet). A popular site in the Lough is the LEES. This is a liberty ship at 10 metres (33 feet). Large parts of the wreck are still intact and full of with marine life like dead mans fingers.

Kenbane and Benbane Headlands
has great scenics dives good for all levels of divers. Some sea caves cut into cliffs making a home to seals. The island north of the Carrick-A-Rede-Bridge. Its also known as the guiness bridge.

The Portstewart, Portrush area boasts numerous wrecks and scenic dives. Foul Grounds in Portstewart Bay is a drift dive.
Big dogfish can be seen and the depths range from 16 to 23 metres (52 -75 feet). Portstewart has a dense kelp bottom with a lot of marine life. When shore diving watch out for the curent of the head.

Blue pool is a very popular dive and consists of overhangs, boulders and reef teeming with marine life. Blue pool can be dived from the shore. Giants Causeway was built by Finn McCool some years back. Seals are a common sight on the eastern side of Causeway and there are some nice dive sites too.

Wrecks: Towry sank on June 20th 1930. The stern and bow area are still intact. It's found at 18 metres (59 feet) depth.

Bar Mouth has a number of wrecks ranging from wooden sailing vessels to modern ships. Care needs to be taken as this site is tidal and a shipping channel as well. Depths go from 3 to about 8 metres (10-26 feet).

The Inishown and Malin Head area.
Devils Cut in Malin Head has enormous caverns that join the gully to the open Atlantic Ocean. There are some really fascinating rock formations here.

The Inistrahull Island has some reef and wreck dives. However divers must beware because the island is exposed to the sea, recommended for experienced divers only.
Many wrecks can be seen on this area like SS Castle Eden, a 1st World War freighter that was torpedoed in Culdaff Bay, Justica a white Star Liner that was torpedoed in 1918 and MV William Manell a 1st World War converted minesweeper that went down on hitting a mine. Audacious is a WW1 Battlecruiser that went down in 1914 after hitting a mine. This is a huge wreck and is covered in fish life.

There are many lakes in Northern Ireland which generally don't have such good visibility but some special diving may be done there. Some Loughs in Fermanagh were bases for Sunderland flying boats and some of them went down at their moorings.

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