Scuba Diving in Cornwall

With its coastal waters warmed by the gulf stream, Cornwall is one of the hottest places on the UK mainland. Clear seas reveal an abundant marine life bordering on the tropical. Brightly coloured corals and sightings of rare species such as leatherback turtles grace sunken shipwrecks dating back to the 18th century.

Cornwall has always been famed as smugglers lair and a scavengers paradise with the most dangerous two reefs having claimed more than 200 shipwrecks between them. Indeed the Merchant Royal, boasting a haul of silver and gold coins valued at a record £253 million, was recently discovered in May 2007. Whether it is lost shipwrecks or hidden coves, Cornwall has something to offer scuba divers of all levels. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, you can be sure you will be well catered for at Cornwall’s numerous dive centres.

Despite their tranquil appearance, Cornish waters can be dangerous (just think about thousands who have perished in shipwrecks on these shores) and their have been fatalities in recent years. Diving safely is possible with good local advice and plenty of forward planning. You can get all the help you need at local dive centres or opt for a liveaboard where all the hard work can be left up to competent skipper. Here are some of the best dive spots in Cornwall.

  • Killegerran Head is a shallow dive with a depth of 8 – 12 metres, so it is suited to novice scuba divers. Composed of a cliff that runs straight down into the water, the visibility here is very good and the abundance of small fish life living amongst the reefs present lots of opportunities for fish spotting or underwater photography.
  • The Whelps is a reef system dropping off into gullies of 25 – 30 metres. The gully walls are covered in corals and sponges at the higher reaches, turning into fan corals as you descend. Larger fish such as mackerel and cod can be sighted and you can even collect scallops for your post dive supper from the sea bed.
  • The Runnel Stone is actually a large complex of peaks and reefs, not in fact a single rock. It is thought to have brought more than 27 ships down so as you can imagine, there is a variety of diving experiences to be found here. The weather has to be right and good local knowledge is a must as this can be a dangerous dive site. Those with the experience to manage a dive here will be richly rewarded however. Excellent visibility of up to 20 metres and a range of shipwrecks at varying depths complement a varied reef system with lots of fish and corals. Avid wreck divers can explore shipwrecks dating from 1863 (The Febrero) right up to 1920 (The Lake Grafton).