Diving North Wales with Gwynedd Sub Aqua Club by Helen Howard-Jones
Diving in the UK is some of the best diving you can get in the world. Our dive Club, Gwynedd Sub Aqua Club is a branch of the UK’s governing body for the sport, the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC). Gwynedd Club (named after the former principality) was established in 1959 and have been actively diving since, primarily in and around the beautiful Anglesey coastline and down Lleyn Peninsula.
Images by Dave Meacher
Diving around Anglesey and its locality is some of the best-known diving in the UK. Not only is there a rich maritime history, which offers us divers the opportunity to dive many of the shipwrecks, the highly coloured reefs of the rugged west of Anglesey and the myriad of beautiful jewelled Anemones in the Menai Straits is truly something to behold.
Every dive is different and you never see the same thing twice, there is a huge diversity in sea the life from different species of starfish, seaweed, fish, sponges and crabs to name only a few things you typically see on a dive. I couldn’t believe my eyes on one of the first dives I did. The dive scene in North Wales and Anglesey is a busy one, thre are many Clubs, however Gwynedd Club has two boats and dives in the sea, at least once a week, throughout the season.
There are many, many dive sites. My personal preference are boat dives where you can get access some of the areas below rugged cliffs, farther out off shore to the many wrecks along Anglesey’s coastline and I particularly like St Tudwals and Bardsey Island. Shore diving is also a popular option at sites such as Menai Straits – particularly under Menai Bridge, Newry Beach, Trearddur Bay and Porth Dafarch, Porth Diana, areas to name a few. Essentially, wherever you have a rocky shoreline, varied seabed or cliffs you are guaranteed a dive with plenty of colour and diversity. Planning the diving however needs to be done with care because of the strong currents which exists around our coastline. As divers we need to be in and out of the water in a period which we call “slack” water, this occurs when the tidal stream slows right down, before the period of either high or low water before the direction of the stream reverses and the current begins to increase again.
Diving shipwrecks is a preference of the type of diving I like to do where we must observe slack water. There are many many ship wrecks around the North Wales coastline. Wrecks become an artificial reef for marine life and offer unbeatable diving for a variety of reasons. Wrecks degrade over time and so care needs to be taken, however, they are covered in white and orange sponges, schools of fish will swim around the decks and structure. You will need to keep your eyes peeled to look out for Nudibranchs, (or sea slugs) many of which are tiny in size, however are incredibly beautiful and come in a myriad of colours. Conger eels will lurk in boiler tubes, lobsters, and crabs hide in nooks and crannies and starfish will cover the sea floor.
Diving the Tudwals you will be surrounded by playful seals nipping and your fins. My most memorable dives was the Bijou, she lies in around 40m of water. She was a German cargo ship sunk in 1977, all crew were picked up my Moelfre lifeboat. Diving down the shot line the wreck appears out of the darkness, she sits upright so you get a really good perspective. The wreck is absolutely covered in life and is full of colour. You don’t need to dive the deeper wrecks to experience a good dive, some of the best and most frequent dives I’ve done are around the 20m mark. North Wales has such terrific scenery even when you surface and eat your sandwiches sitting on the tubes of the boat and in the glorious sunshine, life doesn’t get any better.
Get in touch with Gwynedd Sub Aqua Club via www.gwyneddsubaqua.org or on Facebook.