P22C93 A curious grey seal swims up to a scuba diver swimming along underwater
P22C93 A curious grey seal swims up to a scuba diver swimming along underwater

Where to discover diving in the UK and do your bit to save our seas

Covid may have ruled out exotic waters for now, but there’s still a chance to experience the ocean closer to home during AWARE week.

Sarah Marshall
Saturday 18 September 2021 08:00

The last 18 months have been challenging for land-locked divers. But as the world opens up, oceans are becoming easily accessible once again – and you don’t need to travel far to appreciate what’s under the surface.

Although the UK is much cooler than than the tropics, thicker wetsuits (or drysuits in winter) make it possible to dive exciting wrecks and encounter wildlife ranging from dainty seahorses to magnificent basking sharks.

Anyone getting into the water will undoubtedly appreciate how precious the marine environment is and – more importantly – how fragile it’s become.

Proof protection starts at home, PADI – the world’s largest dive organisation – have created the new non-profit PADI AWARE Foundation charity dedicated to driving local action for global ocean impact.

Designed to empower local dive communities to take care of their coastlines, AWARE Week (September 18-26) promotes a selection of UK events and virtual global talks.

PADI currently lists 80 dive sites in the UK, of which 38 are reef, 23 are wreck and 19 are lake. If you want to do your bit and discover some of the best British dive sites in the next few weeks, here’s where to go…

Farne Islands

More playful than predatory, the grey seal is still Britain’s largest native carnivore. Encounter the pinnipeds in the writhing kelp beds surrounding the Farne islands off the coast of Northumberland.

Charity Saltwater Britain, who invest 100% of profits back into conservation, is organising a dive to the Farne Islands in partnership with the Blue Ventures PADI dive centre on September 24-25.

Participants will also have an opportunity to collect any underwater rubbish as part of a Dive Against Debris campaign. Price is £475 per person. Book here.

Trearddur Bay, Wales

If you’re looking for a gentle re-entry into the water, the shallow 15metre dives from this rocky Welsh bay are ideal. Expect to find wrasse, cod, groupers, nudibranchs, dogfish and lots of crabs tucked into the kelp and rocks.

On September 26, Scuba Leeds will be running a three-hour Splash For Trash event giving divers of any level a chance to help remove litter from the sea – while enjoying great wildlife encounters at the same time. The event is free. Book here.

Lundy Island

This Devonshire spot was the first area to be declared a Marine Conservation Zone in the UK. Sat at the mouth of the Bristol Channel, its clear oceanic waters mix with the warmer Mediterranean Look out for dolphins, porpoises, seals, jellyfish, lobsters and urchins.

The Ocean Turtle Diving Centre runs a Discover Local Diving – UK Sea Diving course designed for divers wishing to dip their toes into British waters for the first time. Lasting four hours, with one dive, the next event will take place on September 22. Priced £180 per person. Book here.