Having two coasts means there’s a lot of sea to explore around Devon – and scuba diving or snorkelling is about the best way to do it.
Diving the wrecks and reefs around our shores is quite something, and many dive schools run charters and regular trips to the most popular sites – and some less ‘discovered’.
And if you’re an absolute beginner – well, you’ve come to the right place! Anyone with a buddy can grab a snorkel and mask and explore our calmer waters, but if you fancy taking things a bit deeper, you can get started with a recognised course from a qualified instructor at one of Devon’s many diving schools.
Much more information on diving and snorkling in Devon and Cornwall can be found at these sites:
The diving on the reef around the Eddystone Lighthouse, 12 miles south-west of Plymouth, is some of the best diving in the South of England. The reef is full of marine life and is a paradise for underwater photographers.
This is an excellent reef dive that starts with a pinnacle at 8m leading to deep gullies and then shelving off steeply down to a maximum of 25m. This site offers excellent photographic opportunities due to the nature of the topography and marine life.
There are Sea Fans, Ross Coral and Jewel anemones throughout the area; plenty of dogfish and you can sometimes find lobsters and crab. Dependant upon the tide, the dive usually ends in a drift type dive as the currents can still be felt at depth. Always use an SMB on this site.
Drake’s Island, Plymouth
Drakes Island lies directly at the mouth of the River Tamar - there are a number of shipwrecks here. On the north side of the Island is Asia Shoal (5-18m), where there’s a range of marine life including sponges, hydroids, burrowing anemones, scallops and plaice. On the south east side of the island (3-9m) the seabed consists of primarily sand with rocky outcrops, where there’s a range of marine life including sponges, hydroids, burrowing anemones.
This shore dive offers good all-round cover from the weather. The depth of the harbour at high water is 7m, and at low water most of the harbour dries out. The seabed composition is a mixture of sand with rocky outcrops and gullies. A good variety of marine life can be seen here including cuttlefish, wrasse, crabs, anemones and sponges. Be aware that small boats often use the harbour.
Below is a description of one of our best preserved World War 2 wrecks, the Liberty ship the James Eagan Layne.
The James Eagan Layne was hit by a torpedo, from the German submarine U-1195, nearby the Eddystone reef and lighthouse. Badly damaged, she was towed by Admiralty tugs towards Plymouth in an attempt to save as much cargo as possible. Unfortunately, on her way back, the stern collapsed, causing her to sink in Whitsand Bay where she now rests in an upright position on a sandy seabed pointing north towards the shore. After the James Eagan Lane initially sunk her masts and funnel could be seen sticking out of the water, these have since been removed and can be seen on the seabed on the port side. A vast majority of he cargo was removed before she sank, however some of her cargo can still be seen in parts of her 5 holds.
Easy entry to no 1 and 2 holds, which hold many railway rolling stock wheels. Fallen decking now covers the main engine. Along the port side are vast sheets of white anemones and dead mans fingers. The stern has broken off by No 5 hold and now lies southwest of the main wreck. The stern section is linked by a rope, which can be easily followed.
To add a new dimension to your dive, check out Promare's Underwater Tour of the James Eagan Layne, courtesy of The Ships Project.