Considering Scotland’s low population density and the climate cold all year round, Scotland is certainly a surprising diving destination.
Still, it is a very active region in scuba diving, with over 70 clubs operational!
The many dive centers in Scotland are under the direction of the Scottish Sub Aqua Club (ScotSAC). This promotes the sport in the region!
This article is a detailed guide to scuba diving and snorkeling in Scotland.
Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Scotland
The best scuba diving sites in Scotland
Scotland is beautiful to visit; it is rich in history and offers beautiful cultural diversity. Moreover, the beauty and diversity of the region are also found underwater!
Scotland offers remarkable dives to those who come to discover it!
Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands:
The fleet of the Imperial German Navy was waiting in Scapa Flow Bay at the end of the First World War. Then, Rear Admiral Ludwig Von Reuter’s orders were to sink the fleet. So, several boats sank into the depths and are still there today. The ships Markgraf, Konig, Kronprinz Wilhelm, Coln, Dresden, and Karlsruhe are the most notable wrecks still visited today.
St-Abbs, Coldingham (Berwickshire):
The port of St-Abbs is considered one of the best scuba diving sites in the UK. There are more than half a dozen sites to practice this sport, but Cathedral Rock is the best known. The latter contains some arches and passages pleasant to explore.
The Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull is the fourth largest island in Scotland. It is very popular with divers, naturalists, and photographers. Several incredible sites have not been contaminated by human pollution. Marine wildlife includes minke whales, porpoises, basking sharks, and dolphins.
St Kilda is one of Scotland’s 71 national nature reserves. It is isolated and strict requirements must be met to enter the island. But, it is easy to meet these requirements. The diving is exceptional, especially for the exploration of the caves. There is only one small campground on the island, so it’s peaceful and wild.
Reviews of Scuba Diving Scotland
The majority of diving that is done in Scotland is diving with a club. You can also dive with a regular dive center, but there are only six PADI dive centers in Scotland. Dives are done either from the shore or with a short boat trip.
Dive cruises are rare in Scotland, as in the rest of Europe. Yet, if you’re interested in a cold-water cruise, look at adventure cruises in Alaska and the polar regions.
Prices of dives in Scotland
Rates for diving in Scotland vary by region but mostly by the type of dive. Here’s a look at the average dive price for Scotland:
2 dives with equipment: +/- 200€
Specialization PADI – drysuit diving: +/- 300€
Price Course level 1 / Open Water – including training in dry suit: +/- 800€
Price Course Level 2 / Padi Open Water Advanced (+ dry also follows!): +/- 720€
Price Course Level 3 / Rescue Diver: +/- 600€
Emergency First Response at +/- 200€
Divemaster: on request from the various dive centers
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 Scotland
Usually, the diving season is from April to October. Diving is still possible outside this season but can be subject to harsh conditions such as strong currents. That’s why many divers turn to the lakes during the winter season.
The water temperature in Scotland doesn’t warm up, even in summer. Thus, a specialization course to dive in a dry suit is a great option.
Also, there are hundreds of wrecks in Scotland. So it’s a good idea to consider a wreck diving course if you’re not certified.
Scuba diving conditions
Many who dive in Scotland wear an isothermal suit all year round. The water temperature ranges from 4°C (39°F) in April to 14°C (57°F) in September.
Regarding visibility, the average si is usually between 10 and 30 meters (30 to 100 feet). But, localized algal blooms can limit visibility in season.
Snorkeling in Scotland
Snorkeling is not widespread in Scotland because the water is cold. The sites are deeper than those of Iceland, for example.
Underwater fauna: Fish and Coral
Marine life is abundant, and many wrecks populate the seabed. Frequently encountered species are minke whales, porpoises, basking sharks, and dolphins.
If you are planning to go on a trip to Scotland, 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.
Scotland is an interesting diving destination, especially if you are a cold water diver or wreck diver!