Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Ireland


Last Updated on 24/09/2022 by Alfred

Ireland is not on many divers’ lists of diving places, but it is still a very nice destination for cold water diving! Iceland’s weather conditions are influenced by the Gulf Stream and do not go towards temperature extremes.

If the summers are hotter, it is necessary to wear a t-shirt. That said, winter temperatures are generally comfortable, rarely very cold.

The famous Jacques Cousteau considered that among the best places to dive in the world is the Dingle Peninsula. This plunges into the Atlantic Ocean.

To this region are added the various diving spots around Dublin, Cork, and on the west coast of the country.

This article is a detailed guide to scuba diving and snorkeling in Ireland.

Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Ireland

The best scuba diving sites

Scuba diving in Ireland is done with different clubs, much like in the rest of Europe. For example, the Irish Underwater Council operates over 80 dive clubs on the CMAS system.

Otherwise, only a few dive centers offer PADI or SSI training. In short, it is with one of these clubs and diving centers that you can discover diving in Ireland in one of the following regions:

West Cork

West Cork is a region that offers five distinct diving destinations. First, you will find about fifteen dive sites at Roaringwater Bay. Then, there are 13 sites on the Baltimore side, 7 of which are on wrecks. Then, there are 14 sites towards Mizen, several of which are from the shore, and others are drift dives. Also, there are several wrecks near Mizen, some very deep.

Donegal

Donegal comprises 4 destinations which are divided as follows: North East Donegal, Aranmore, North West Donegal, and Malin Beg. These destinations are among the most beautiful cold water diving spots and offer more than 40 sites!

Mayo

Mayo also offers many dive sites, mainly around Achill and Clare Islands. These are particularly interesting to dive into!

Dublin

Near Dublin, several dive sites are on the side of Dalkey Island or Lambay Island. Also, there are a dozen wrecks to dive near Dublin.

According to the Irish Wrecks website, more than 15,000 wrecks are lying on the seabed around Ireland. It is, thus, one of the most beautiful diving destinations on wrecks in cold water.

Reviews of scuba diving in Ireland

Ireland is a small country where diving is mainly done from the shore or with a short boat trip. Thus, dives are planned with local clubs or dive centers.

As mentioned above, most dive centers operate under CMAS and a few under PADI and SSI.

As a result, Ireland has no liveaboard, and it is not a popular European industry, given that the sites are very localized and close together.

But, if you are interested in a cold water diving cruise, you must look at it on the Alaskan side. This site offers many adventure cruises in Alaska and the polar regions.

Prices of dives in Ireland

Rates for diving in Ireland vary by region but mostly by the type of dive. Here is still an overview of the average price of dives for Ireland:

A boat trip – snorkeling: +/- 50€

2 dives with equipment: +/- 100€

Specialization PADI – drysuit diving: +/- 200€

Price Course level 1 / Open Water: +/- 500€

Price Course Level 2 / Padi Open Water Advanced: +/- 420€

Price Course Level 3 / Rescue Diver: +/- 400€

Emergency First Response at +/- 100€

Divemaster: on request from the various diving centers but about 700 € and more.

We advise you not to look only for the lowest rate but choose your dive center according to where you feel best. Sometimes it makes sense to pay a little more and be in better conditions!

Best time to dive in Ireland

The summer months are the best time to visit Ireland. But, in terms of conditions for diving, it makes very little difference to dive in summer or winter.

The water temperature varies between 10°C/50°F from January to March and rises to 18°C/65°F from July to September. That said, everything is going well by diving with a dry suit or a very thick wetsuit!

Diving courses

It may be surprising, but Ireland is a very nice destination to learn to dive. The country offers many shallow dive sites perfect for beginners. But, diving in cold water, usually in a dry suit.

Ireland is a perfect destination to spend specializations such as wreck diving or following the training to dive in a dry suit.

These specializations will be available at PADI and SSI dive centers. Besides, local clubs have programs in place for CMAS divers.

Scuba diving conditions

Diving conditions in Ireland are always in cold water but vary very little during the year. The sea on the west coast is a bit warmer than on the east side, but nothing more.

Accordingly, the water temperature ranges between 10°C/50°F from January to March and 18°C/65°F from July to September.

In terms of surface conditions, they vary according to the season. But, the conditions are generally good, and you rarely need to swim for a long time.

Snorkeling in Ireland

Again, this may surprise many, but there is snorkeling in Ireland.

Underwater fauna: Fish and Coral

Marine species are many in Irish waters. First, about 10 species of cetaceans, whales, and seals are permanent residents around the country. Then many species of whales pass through during migration periods.

In short, here is a list of marine species that you can meet while diving in Ireland.

  • Porpoise, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, ordinary dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, white-billed dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, northern bottlenose whale, killer whale, long-finned pilot whale, and sperm whale.
  • Cuvier’s whale and Sowerby’s whale.
  • Right whale, bowhead whale, humpback whale, blue whale, fine whale, and striped dolphin.
  • Ordinary seal and grey seal.

Diving Safety

If you are planning to go on a trip to Ireland, I advise you to invest in good travel insurance that also covers scuba diving. You never know what can happen, and good insurance can get you out of difficult situations.

Cold water diving may not be every diver’s dream, but Ireland is a great destination for those who practice it!

It is an excellent diving destination all year round and not too far away for the European diver. Besides, the variety offered in the different types of diving is an asset to the country!

We hope the content “Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Ireland” was helpful to you.

Alfred

Alfred is the author behind the Travelvibe travel blog and is always searching for the quieter, less-visited corners of the world.

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