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What you can expect to see while scuba diving in Ireland

One of the things I’ve put off trying out for some time that I really want to experience soon is scuba diving. It’s something I’ve told myself I’m going to try before too long, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to give it a go this summer when I’m back home in Ireland. I’ve been doing some reading lately, and watching YouTube videos too, and I’m really excited by the things that I can expect to see while scuba diving in Ireland.

Diving is one of those sports that you can’t just buy a bit of gear and head out and try when you have a spare hour or two. There’s plenty to learn first, there are rules to follow, and to dive you need to be certified. But if you love the ocean and the mystery that awaits you below, then the learning process is probably quite a fun and worthwhile experience. I’m really looking forward to it.

So far my research on the topic of diving in Ireland has given me some great ideas for places to learn to dive as well as to come back to once I’ve had some experience. The thought of diving to the U-260 German submarine on the seabed off the coast of Cork, near Glandore, sounds very exciting! And how about the chance of spotting a huge 20 foot basking shark as I explore beneath the surface – what a treat that would be!

What you might see while scuba diving in Ireland

Shipwrecks around Ireland
Start off with some rough seas, add in a rocky coastline and the odd torpedo or 2, and what you’ll end up with is plenty of shipwrecks on the bottom of the ocean. IrishShipWrecks.com has a list of over 500 shipwrecks that dot the bottom of the ocean around the Irish coastline – what a treasure trove! I’m sure many are too dangerous or too far down to dive to, but plenty from the wreck-list are accessible.

You’ll find a few famous wrecks at the bottom of the ocean around Ireland. The Lusitania, for a while the world’s largest ship, was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Kinsale in Cork in 1915 by a German U-boat. By the sounds of it, diving to the Lusitania is not for your average diver. There’s an interesting article about diving to the Lusitania here.
The Empire Heritage, at a depth of about 70m, is another ship that lost its way to a German sub. It was torpedoed off the coast of Malin Head, Donegal, and is popular with scuba divers in the area. The Heritage was carrying a cargo of tanks, which sank along with her, and those can be explored by divers too.
Many of the local dive companies can take you down to explore some of the wrecks around Ireland. In Dublin Bay you might get to explore the MV Leinster and the Bolivar. Over in Killary Harbour on the west coast, the Julia T., an upright and intact Motor Vessel, which sank in 1998, is a popular dive wreck. The boat is covered in anemones and sea urchins, and inhabited by pollock and conger eels. You also have plenty of options off the coast of Cork. The Santo, UC42 and Aud are all suitable diving spots. The local dive centre in Kinsale can take you to see those.
I’ve named just a few of the many wonderful wreck dive options around Ireland that I have found. I’m hoping I can get some experienced divers or dive companies to chime in with a few more.

If you want to research many of the shipwrecks around Ireland then check out IrishWrecksOnline.net and IrishShipWrecks.com.

Ireland’s waters are packed with a wonderful array of sea life and plant life – dolphins, whales, basking sharks, gannets, seals, various forms of crustacean life and so much more. The video below gives you a wonderful glimpse at what you might get to see. Enjoy!

Other things to know about scuba diving in Ireland

  • Many dive centres offer a ‘try a dive’ option. Without signing up for full certification you can experience diving and see if it’s for you. I’ve seen prices ranging from 60 to 85 Euro for this.
  • The dive season varies by location/dive school. It typically runs from March to October, but check locally.
  • Some dive centre’s offer dive holidays, or dive certification holidays. Sounds fun!
  • PADI open water certification prices in Ireland – most of the prices I’ve seen for this certification have been in the 600 Euro range. I suggest contacting the dive company of choice to find out what their price includes (gear rental, coursework, PADI open water diver manual, etc).
  • There’s a patron saint of scuba divers! And, it’s Ireland’s own, Saint Brendan of Clonfert
  • Many of the adventure centres around Ireland that offer diving courses and activities also have other fun things to try out like snorkeling, coastal cruises etc.

Have you dived Ireland’s waters? Tell us a little bit about what you saw in the comments.
image credit: Flickr/88rabbit


  1. Hi Liam, thanks for this blog, I took my PADI and my advanced on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. While living in Kenmare I always heard great stories from the guys from the diving school there.
    Can’t wait to have my first dive in Ireland, I might next week if I have a chance, and otherwise one day in the Kenmare river!

    • That sounds like a dream, Harm! Sounds like a beautiful place to learn. Let me know how your first dive in Ireland goes. I’d love to hear about it. I’d love to get an opinion or 2 for the best place to learn to scuba dive in Ireland.

  2. Hi Liam, what would be the best season for diving in Ireland? I just spent my summer at Philippines and dive at the wonderful place called Palawan. I heard one diver that Ireland also has a good diving spot. I will give it a go next summer. Thanks!

    • Joe
      I’d recommend contacting a dive centre here for the best answer. I’m guessing the summer months (July & August in particular) would be best due to water temps and daylight hours.


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