So many options for diving in Wales, so little time. To help you find your perfect adventure underwater, we asked the experts in Wales’ leading dive areas to nominate their favourite sites: Karen Flannery in Pembrokeshire and Martin Sampson in Anglesey.
Martin Sampson, Anglesey Divers
SS Missouri, Anglesey
This four-masted steamship ran aground in Porth Dafarch in 1880. It’s on flat sand at a depth of about 13m and is sufficiently sheltered that it’s not affected by currents, so it makes a cracking first wreck dive. There’s a remarkable amount left – the bow structure and winch, foremasts on the seabed and steam boilers – and the sand shifts to expose decking. Plus you get lobsters, wrasse and pollock. So a great dive that’s exciting and a really safe way to discover wreck-diving.
Rhoscolyn Beacon, Anglesey
While there’s a lifetime of diving in Anglesey, this pepperpot-shaped beacons on the outermost rock is excellent. The reef either side drops away quickly to about 18m. The beauty of it is that although it’s hugely tidal you can always get shelter, while for more experienced divers this has some of the best drift diving in the UK; up to three knots. When the current brings in nutrients the anemones open, lobsters come out, fish face into the current. There’s a spectacular amount of life.
Karen Flannery, West Wales Dive Company
Karen Flannery, owner of St Bride’s Bay-based West Wales Dive Company, has dived for several decades in Wales’s premier dive regions of Pembrokeshire and Anglesey. She shares her top three places to dive in West Wales.
Stack Rocks/Hen and Chicks, Pembrokeshire
Not as well-publicised but in some ways I prefer this to Skomer. It’s just out of Little Haven and like Skomer it has seals. But the visibility here is usually the best in the area, it’s well-protected from currents and the depth is anything up to 24m, so easy diving. And underwater are lots of formations: boulders, pinnacles, kelp, sand dunes with scallops. Just beautiful. Hen and Chicks is famous for proper big trigger fish in late summer.
Skomer Marine Reserve, Pembrokeshire
This is one of our favourites. It’s beautiful and not just underwater, with seals, puffins in summer and often porpoise en route to the site. The actual underwater part has a beautiful array of fishlife and is famous for pink seafans, a Mediterranean species which flourishes in the gulf stream. So, it’s pretty, people love diving with seals and just off the island is the wreck of the Lucy in 40m. But Skomer has shallow bits, so novice divers can come too.
St Brides Haven Beach, Pembrokeshire
We use this dive for training or as a tranquil dive for divers who are new to British waters. You start on a white sandy beach that’s fringed by kelp forest. So, you’ve got lobsters, crabs, wrasse, pollack and dogfish, flatties in the sand and lots of interesting teeny things too. It’s 12m depth maximum or for people who are little more advanced there’s a reef just offshore in 15-18m. So a perfect place to get people safely into British diving.