Diving in Scotland offers many opportunities for enthusiasts to experience scenic dives, ship wreck dives or simply dives whereby divers can just practice in order to hone their skills. Here we take a look at the diving opportunities in Scotland plus when is the most popular time of year to dive and when the best weather conditions are expected.
What Divers Can Expect to See
Scotland has so much to offer divers that it is fast becoming a popular place for enthusiasts to visit. Scotland has some spectacular underwater cliffs and reefs where divers can take part in some great drift dives. Scotland is also home to some amazing sea life such as porpoises, whales and dolphins, while those who wish to experience diving among sharks must head for the West Coast where Basking Sharks can be seen in their natural habitat. Many companies offer diving holidays where enthusiasts can take time to dive among the basking sharks or view them from on board ship.
When Does the Season Begin and End?
Many companies run their wildlife trips from May to September when it is most likely sharks will be swimming in the waters of the Western Coast. Divers will see the Basking Sharks feeding and even mating during these months with the peak of the season being from June to August. This season however only covers diving with sharks with most companies running diving expeditions all year round.
Seas during the shark diving season are relatively calm making it the best time to dive but on occasion there is stormy weather too which of course is out of control of the organisers. Average summer temperatures are in the 19c area which is 66 Fahrenheit. Average water temperatures at this time of year are around 13c. The warmest months are July and August.
In the winter months of January and February temperatures range from 5c to 7c with water temperatures around 4c. This makes it the coldest time to dive. Another thing to take into consideration before diving is the tidal currents that can be changeable and dangerous in this area. It is always best to check the tides before setting out. Visibility is another consideration although the West Coast is renowned for good visibility with the East Coast slightly less so.
Scapa Flow is located off Orkney Island and is perhaps the most dangerous dive in Scotland with even the most experienced of divers sometimes getting into difficulty. Fatalities occur here on a yearly basis therefore diving with a good support team that has done its reconnaissance is well advised. Weather conditions and forecasts can be obtained from the Met Office and are updated regularly.
Scapa Flow is the world's greatest cold water wreck site attracting dedicated divers worldwide to its waters. Weather in this area is extreme with powerful intense currents therefore diving here is not for the faint hearted. Once down in the ocean divers will see wrecks that have been in the depths for years. Scapa Flow is the final resting place of battle ships from the First World War along with many other ship wrecks.
Diving in Scapa Flow is attempted all year round but the best months to be relatively safe are from April to November. The water at this time of year is around the 10c mark therefore a dry suit is necessary as diving in simply a wet suit will see divers literally freeze their socks off! It has to be said diving in winter time here does offer the best visibility so its swings and roundabouts as to which time of year is the best. Those interested in diving in Scapa Flow can find companies such as The Diving Cellar who offer all in experiences with transport, accommodation and equipment included in the cost of the trip.
Diving in Cold Water
Diving in Scotland's cold waters can be a great experience as long as divers are equipped with the correct diving gear. Divers in cold water may have a higher air consumption rate, have less manual dexterity, tire more rapidly and use more energy quickly. Here we offer a few suggestions for divers who have not experienced cold water diving previously although it is advised that divers always take expert tuition, advice and guidance from a qualified instructor before diving.
- Wear a thicker buoyant wetsuit with more weight and a dry suit with hood
- Stabilising Jacket
- Be prepared for the cold water to take your breath away
- Use a regulator for use in cold water diving
- Practising mask clearing in cold water is advised
- Lower pressure tanks are advised for cold water diving
- Always consult a qualified technician or instructor when first cold water diving
- 7mm fleeced lined hood is recommended
- 5mm Neoprene Gloves
- Depth Gauge
- Knife and torch
- Eat a good breakfast before diving and warm up with warm drink after
- Don’t get in a hot shower straight after a cold dive. It may seem like a great idea in order to heat up but it can stimulate bubble formation which will increase the chances of skin bend.