The simple answer is absolutely not. You can dive as shallow or as deep as you chose in the UK, providing you have the right diving certification!  I’ve been a PADI Instructor for 22 years and have been lucky enough to dive all over the UK, enjoying the huge variety of dive sites we have around our shores, both deep and shallow.

The definition of a deep or shallow dive will depend on the individual, but, in general, a deep dive is anything over 18 meters/60 feet. Most marine wildlife lives in 0 – 20m (0 – 65-foot) zone, but often there are things, like wrecks, that may take divers below that depth.

No matter what dive you want to do, the starting point is to make sure you are properly trained and have the right equipment. Always talk to your local PADI dive center if you’re planning a dive you’ve not done before.

Let’s have a look at some of the best UK dive sites, both deep and shallow. Please remember this is a personal list, and it’s far from inclusive. There are thousands of incredible UK dive sites that offer diving in the shallower and deeper ranges.

dive in europe with seals

Shallow Dives in the UK

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the best shallow dives in the UK. In general, the max depth at these dive sites is around 20 meters (65 feet).

Loch Fyne, Scotland

Diving Scotland is extraordinary; you get the stunning beauty of the Highlands and the wonder of the underwater world. A site I love is Anchor Point, which is a shore diving site with a simple entry that slopes slowly and gently to just over 20m (65 ft.) with life present all the way. The visibility is generally great, although as with many UK dive sites, a torch (flashlight) is useful. Look out for anemones, wrasse, and goldsinny.  Scotland is chillier than ‘down south’, so look at getting your PADI Dry Suit Diver certification, if you’re going to make the most of cold water diving.

The Farne Islands (Northumberland)

The diving here is truly a mixed bag with deeper and shallower dives. But the Farnes are famous for the seals! These intelligent and funny creatures cannot fail but make you smile. The Farnes also get dolphins, although they can be difficult to see. Bring an underwater camera, as the life is stunning.

South Devon

I could dive the site called Babbacombe (Babbs to those in the know!) in South Devon every single day. The maximum depth is about 8 meters (26 feet), but the marine life you will see is incredible. You can spot (and I mean will, not might) lobsters, shrimps, dogfish, crabs and all species of wrasse plus some utterly beautiful kelps. It’s so pretty and so easy, and you can spend hours just hanging out with the utterly chilled critters. The car ride down the hill to the car park is a bit steep, but it’s so worth it.

a view of the coast in Cornwall

Deeper Dives in the UK

While you definitely don’t have to dive deep in the UK, there are lots of great sites with depths between 20 and 40 meters (65 to 130 feet). I’ll detail just a few of them below.


Some of the best visibility I’ve ever seen in the UK was while wreck diving from Rock (near Padstow) in north Cornwall. The wrecks in the area were amazing, and the visibility was 20 – 30 meters (66 – 100 feet) – stunning!

Cornwall has the advantage that if it’s too windy on one coast, you can head to the opposite coast and dive there!

M2 Submarine (Portland, Dorset)

The M2 submarine just off the coast of Portland in Dorset (Weymouth) is an iconic and fascinating dive. It’s an upright and complete submarine lying in 32 meters (106 feet) of water with marine life galore. Some of the congers look like they have been inside the wreck all their lives and simply can’t get out! It’s an amazing wreck, as there are very, very few complete submarines in recreational diving depths. To get there, you need to book on a charter boat from either Portland or Weymouth. You will need to have a minimum diving certification of Advanced Open Water Diver, and you will need to know how to put up a DSMB underwater. So talk to your dive center about those courses.

Two drysuit divers in Vobster, UK

Deep and Shallow Dives Together

Of course, sometimes you may want to dive deeper and shallower in a single day! Here’s one option for doing just that.

Eastbourne (Sussex)

One of my favorite diving days ever was diving the Holland V and Normans Bay from Eastbourne in Sussex.

Both are protected wrecks licensed to the Nautical Archaeology Society, so you have to book through them to dive the sites. But the bonus is you get one of the best dive briefs ever! The Holland V was an experimental submarine. It’s quite a tiny wreck but is a wonderful dive. We had great visibility, and although the seabed is quoted as being at 31m (102 feet) we didn’t go below 28m (92 feet).

Normans Bay is incredible. The maximum depth is 10 – 15m (33 – 49 feet), and there are 51 cannons with a trail line between them. It’s absolutely amazing, and you can spend forever down there!

The UK has dive sites for literally every taste. Dive safely, get the right training and certifications and take your time getting the experience you need! The UK is one of the most diverse and rewarding areas of the world to dive.

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