It’s a dream of many world travelers to use the onset of St. Patrick’s Day as the perfect excuse to plan that trip to the Emerald Isle. But did you know that while you’re exploring the local pubs and mossy green cliffs, that you can also plan a diving trip as well?
Sure, the coast of Ireland isn’t necessarily famous in international diving circles, but if you can’t resist an opportunity to go diving on any vacation, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the cool sites that this island has to offer.
Located off of Ireland’s Western Coast, this fjord is tucked away under the mountains of Connemara. Head to the offshore islands, where the Atlantic waters are surprisingly crystal clear, and find an abundance of kelp beds and marine life. Look for lobster, conger eels and massive schools of Pollack, in addition to some incredible wreck sites. Because the fjord is relatively sheltered, even windy days won’t postpone a diving trip.
Also found off the western Ireland coast, the Julia T wreck is a stand-out in the crowd. It was even named as one of the “100 Essential Wreck Dives” by Ultimate Dive Destinations magazine. Sunk in 1998, the wreck is covered under a coat of colorful plumose anemones and attracts countless large and small fish. Though located just 10 minutes away from local dive centers, this site, which sits upright in roughly 90 ft. of water, is best explored by more advance divers with open water experience.
Close to Dublin, this diving destination is within an easy drive of the capital and offers some amazing inland conditions for divers of all skill levels. Though popular and sometimes a bit crowded, Stoney Cove — a flooded quarry — offers a nice helping of perch and pike, as well as unique underwater features. This makes the site a solid training destination and an interesting experience that differs from open water diving.
Head to the tip of Ireland to discover an incredible collection of wrecks, which includes the ocean liner the HMS Justica. This ship that was built by the same company that constructed the Titanic. The HMS Justica was sank in 1918 after it connected with a German U-Boat torpedo. Other wrecks of interest include the Laurentic, another liner that was converted to an armed merchant ship, and the Athenia – the first British ship to be destroyed by Nazis on the eve of World War II.
While you’re in the global neighborhood, head to nearby Scotland where the Scapa Flow serves as the graveyard for more than 50 German vessels that were scuttled in 1919. Though many have been salvaged in the decades since, the remaining wrecks are an eerie sight. They have been recognized collectively as one of the most famed wreck sites on the globe. There’s abundant sea life to be found here as well, making it a thoroughly fascinating destination for divers.
From famous wrecks to clear protected waters, the Irish diving scene is surprisingly varied, and is a great discovery for wreck divers and history buffs alike. If this St. Paddy’s Day inspires you to finally take the plunge on an Ireland trip, be sure and reserve a day or two to explore the dive sites that are found throughout the Emerald Isle.
You’ll need a solid wetsuit or drysuit for diving in these northern waters! The temperatures range from the low 40s to the upper 50s °F depending on the season. Check out our selection of wetsuits and other protection so you’ll stay warm and comfy while diving this fascinating Emerald Isle!
Have you ever dived Ireland or Scotland? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/88rabbit/