Scuba Diving In County Kerry

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Scuba-Diving in County Kerry is the Jewel in Ireland's Diving Crown, which is also, might I add “THE” place to dive in Europe!

Where will your next scuba diving trip take you? There’s a world of underwater adventures out there waiting for you. Scuba diving and travelling go hand-in-hand. Your next trip or live aboard experience could lead you to your new favourite dive site, best wreck dive, most memorable wall dive or give you the chance to capture that perfect shot of some elusive critter.

Diving and Scuba Diving in County Kerry is the Jewel in Ireland's Diving Crown, which is also, might I add “THE” place to dive in Europe!

Diving in County Kerry Ireland is a hugely popular pastime with world-class diving centres dotted around the county’s coastline. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is very well represented, while BSAC, CMAS, SSI and other agency qualified divers are also welcome.

The West Coast of County Kerry faces headlong into the powerful Atlantic Ocean. Kerry has a varied and heavily indented coastline that lends itself admirably to a feast of temperate water diving.

The rugged coastlines of Kerry are mirrored underwater; think sheer rock faces and stunning topography. That can hold its own on the world’s diving stage; an illustrious number of offshore islands offer unrivalled Atlantic diving where steep drop offs and colourful walls abound.

The water temperature off the coast of Kerry is moderated by the warming Gulf Stream, while nutrient rich water is ideal for a profusion of marine life. Expect an average of 9-10 degrees centigrade in the winter and spring months, and an average of 14-15 degrees centigrade during the summer and autumn.

A myriad of marine life calls the Kerry waters home. Lobsters, crayfish and conger eels will passively observe from under their rocks, while curious cuckoo wrasse, pipefish and oversized Pollack swim about. Indeed, divers lucky enough to dip their fins into Kerry waters frequently report close encounters with seals, dolphins and basking shark.

Here is what Jacques Cousteau said about the Kerry dive sites: "Some of the best diving in the world is at the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Brandon mountains" ... in a landscape of exceptional beauty.

"Abundant marine life - shoals of mackerel and Pollack; feeding wrasse and playful seals; lobster, crawfish and crabs; sunfish and basking sharks; schools of dolphins and pilot whales; while the reefs themselves are lit up by different varieties of sponges and anemones."

County Kerry has several 5 Star diving centres.

One of the most amazing spots to dive in is Saint Finian’s Bay Ballinskellig.

1. St. Finian’s Bay

St. Finian’s Bay is located on the South West coast of County of Kerry. Situated in the heart of the Ring of Kerry, and is the stopping point for the tourists of many countries.

The area offers spectacular scenic, adventurous and as yet, many unexplored dive sites, an ideal working ground for the serious photographer and naturalist. The crystal clear, unpolluted waters are home to a variety and abundance of life that is hard to equal.

There are also a limited number of wreck sites for the wreck diver. There is plenty to do between dives and the non-diving members of the party will not be disappointed either, as a lovely unspoiled beach is one of the main local attractions. To cater for the needs of the ever-increasing numbers of foreign and Irish divers, a dive centre has been established in the vicinity.

Diving in the area is centred on the local pier, which is situated in an extremely sheltered and clean inlet. It is safe for the overnight mooring of boats. There are two slipways off the pier, suitable for the launching of RIBs and inflatables. The laneway leading to the pier is a little narrow and caution should be observed while travelling on it, especially while towing a boat, as the turning points are limited. however, a little prior planning can ease the situation.

The inlet itself is eminently suitable for introductory dives and beginner training. It's clear waters and sandy bottom are full of life, and flatfish are plentiful. The waters vary in depth from 10-25m and are suitable for swimmers and snorkellers.

A large rocky outcrop protects the narrow inlet - like a stopper in a bottle. the depth here varies from 10-25m. From the outcrop, rocky fingers spread down and out into the sandy bottom like the arms of an octopus. The sheltered gullies between them provide a haven for many species of fish and crustacean. as the distance from the pier is only about 500m, it makes an ideal location for an evening or night dive. The well-lit pier makes night diving a joy and safety is guaranteed.

The diving all along the coast West from the pier and on to Puffin Island is excellent, with depths from10-30m on a white sandy bottom. Ridges and reefs abound, with a multitude of gullies interrupting the underwater landscape. The waters here are generally calm, except in strong SW winds, with virtually no current.

2 Puffin Island

Puffin IslandOileán na gCánóg” in Irish is an uninhabited steep rocky island lying off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula.

The island is about 1.5 km long and 0.7 km wide, and rises to 159 metres. It is separated from the mainland by Puffin Sound, which is only about 250 metres across. Day visits to the island from Valentia can be arranged.

Puffin Island holds important populations of several seabird species, including Atlantic Puffins, Manx Shearwaters and European Storm Petrels, and was acquired as a nature reserve by the Irish Wildbird Conservancy (now BirdWatch Ireland) in the early 1980s.

The island also has some signs of ancient human habitation, and it has attracted the interest of archaeologists.

That’s the Island, now how about the diving.

Puffin Island is the real "Diving Jewel" in the area. About 10 minutes by RIB from the pier, it offers an endless choice of dive sites in relatively sheltered waters.

All areas of the island are diveable and the underwater landscape is identical to the landscape above, sheer rock faces and craggy outcrops. The island itself is home to many breeding birds, in particular Puffins, during the breeding season. The diving is relatively safe and sheltered on most sides of the island.

WARNING! The currents on Puffin Head at certain times and states of tide can be treacherous and instantaneous. Puffin Head is for experienced divers only and should be treated with care. The Atlantic swell at Puffin Head and on the Northern side of the island can be enormous, depending on the weather conditions. Again, common sense is required. Diver SMBs are essential here.

Having issued the words of warning, the diving on Puffin Head is spectacular. Two large reefs splay SW from the tip of the island, plunging down sheer cliff faces to about 50m at the bottom.

Slack tide, with strong sunlight streaming through crystal clear waters makes this a most memorable dive site. The strong currents have "close shaved" all the algae from the rock, and one gets the impression of a "bald head" while diving on the tops of the reefs.

The sheltered nooks and crannies are covered in an abundance of sponges and "bejewelled" anemones of all types. The fish and crustacean life is outstanding. Early morning often see Dolphins and Pilot Whales on the surface. Puffin Head is guaranteed to provide an exciting and spectacular dive every time.

3. Puffin Island Sound

The other spectacular diving on Puffin Island is in the area of the sound. Obviously, current and wave states dictate if it is diveable. A drift dive from the North side through the sound is magnificent given the proper conditions of sunlight and water clarity. It is the closest to "tropical" diving you can come across in European waters.

The variety and quantity of fish and sponge life is phenomenal. In September and October, huge shoals of mackerel and scad circle the sound incessantly, while legions of huge Pollack wait on the far side of the sound, like a phalanx of Greek warriors, holding in the current, and waiting to attack any food coming their way. seals also maintain a permanent presence in the sound and add their measure of excitement to the diving.

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4. Dromgour Point

This ended up as the final resting point of the "Crompton", a four masted Barque, which ran aground and was wrecked in 1910. It is now badly broken up, but beautiful visibility and fish life make it an ideal second dive as she lies in relatively shallow waters. Travelling time from the pier is about 15-20 minutes.