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Outer Hebrides, UK

The diving is relatively easy with stunning scenic dives with clear water and rich in wildlife. There are some wrecks for the metal junkies and for non-divers the islands offer a lot of options for other outdoor activities.

Diving Conditions:

  • Water Temperature: From 6-7°C (March) up to 14-15°C (July to November)

  • Visibility: average 10-15m but can be up to 30m

  • Currents: Most of the dive-sites are non-tidal although some wrecks are slack-dependant.

  • Air Temperature: Summer: 10-16°C (Jul-Aug); Winter: 2-7°C (Dec-Feb)

  • Dominant Winds: South-Westerlies with some North-Westerlies; Average speed 12 knots.

Dive Sites

 

 



Site 1: Wreck of Tamra or Enzie

GPS: 58°11.049' N 6°20.759' W

Location: Holm Island

Launch site: Stornoway

Depth: Seabed is at ~30m and the wreck stands ~4m proud.

Currents: Tide independent
Type of bottom: Sandy

Interests: Wreck

 

Description: It is a tiny steamer ship, quite intact and you can clearly see where the collision occurred. There are a couple of swim-throughs but be careful as there lots of finishing nets (luckily they are not loose so don't tend to be extremely hazardous).
 


Site 2: Biastan Thuilm (Beasts of Holm)

GPS: 58°11.237' N 6°21.038' W

Location: Holm Island

Launch site: Stornoway

Depth: Seabed is at ~20m

Currents: Tide independent
Type of bottom: Gullies and inlets with gravel and coarse sand bottom

Interests: Scenic dive

 

Description: The divesite is hard to miss because it is a green beacon standing on top of a pinnacle. Careful while dropping and picking up divers as there are many rocks just below the surface especially on the north side of the beacon. The best spot to drop divers is on the Southernish (South/Southwest) side of the pin. Once down follow the pinnacle on your right. It is S-shaped so eventually you will move away from the beacon and will end up in a wide gully. At this point follow the left wall. After a short while you will find an inlet (its about 2-3 divers wide) which goes up to ~6-8m (here a kelp forest starts). You don't want to go into that inlet but continue on to the next inlet and after a couple of meters there is an amazing swim-through which is about 25m long and 1 diver wide (close to the sea bed). You follow it in at about ~13m and as it gets narrower it also climbs gently to 6m after which it opens up as though there is a funnel stuck into the swim-through. make sure you look up while in the swim-through the light coming through the crack is really impressive.

 

 
 

Site 3: coast of Loch Grimshader

GPS: 58°8.657'N 6°22.958'W.

Location: Southern coast of Loch Grimshader to the right of Port a' Ghinne Muigh

Launch site: Stornoway

Depth: 18m

Currents: Tide independent

Type of bottom: Kelp forrest

Interests: Scenic dive, wreck at the following coordinates: 58°8.672'N 6°22.471W

 

Description: scenic dive along the southern coast of Loch Grimshader, typical Scottish scenery (coarse sand with a rocky reef with boulders topped with kelp). There is lot of life: conger eels, ling, squat lobsters, cup corals, etc. There is meant to be a wreck in that loch but we didn't find it.

 

 

Site 4: Bone Rock

GPS: 58°6.967'N 6°24.039'W.

Location: Loch Erisort 

Launch site: Stornoway

Depth: Seabed 25-30m, pinnacle that stands 10m below the surface

Currents: Tide independent

Type of bottom: Boulders and gullies

Interests: Scenic dive

 

Description: It is super easy to find especially as it slopes up gently and is quite big. SMBs are advised. Bring a goodie bag as there are scallops!

 
 

Site 5: Straight between Tabhaigh Mór and Tabhaigh Bheag

GPS: 58°7.187'N 6°22.934'W

Location: Loch Erisort 

Launch site: Stornoway

Depth: Maximum 15m

Currents: Tide independent

Type of bottom: Coarse sand

Interests: Scenic dive; scallops

 

Description: At both ends (N-S) of the straight it is about 16-18m and rises at the center to about 6-8m. The middle of the straight is the deepest. We dived the eastern side of it and close to land, it only climbed a couple of meters. Very pleasant dive. LOTS of scallops and octopus.

 

Site 6: Bearasay

GPS: 58°16.497'N 6°54.694'

Location: Bearasay

Launch site: Carloway

Depth: Pick your own depth, 10-25m

Currents: Tide independent

Type of bottom: Rocks and boulders

Interests: scenic dive

 

Description: We dived the SE tip of the island. There are seals! Island cuts quite steeply into the water. The seabed closeish to the island is at about 10m and drops off to about 25m. As most of these dives it is pretty much pick our own depth according to how far you are from land and it is never very far! Most of the life lives at about 10-15m. Above 10m you tend to get kelp forests and below 15m there isn't as much life and also the scenery becomes a bit more dull, so not necessarily worth it.  There are lots of seals lounging on the rocks.
 

 

Logistics

 

Diving:

 

Air fills: There is a service station which has basically everything imaginable and also does air fills. However, your best bet (which is what we did) is to contact the local BSAC dive club (Lewis & Harris SAC). They have a compressor and are also really nice and helpful. We  went diving with them one day. Needless to say, they are the ones who you REALLY want to speak to for any sort of advice on the diving.

Launching: There are various slipways on the Isle of Lewis: one in Stornoway, one in Ness, one in Carloway. We didn't use the one in Ness so can't give details on that one. The one in Stornoway is nice and gentle and boats can be launched and recovered easily at any state of the tide. The one in Carloway definitely requires a 4x4 especially at low tide. it is relatively short and at 90° from the road.

Hyperbaric Chamber: the nearest chamber is on the mainland in Strathcarron (category 3 chamber): Seafield Recompression Chamber Seafield College Kishorn Strathcarron IV54 8YA  

BOC Supplier: there is a BOC supplier should you need to refill your O2 kits in Stornoway: Gael Force Creel Division Stornoway Island Road HS1 2RD.

General:


Getting there: it's a good 13hr drive to tow our Rib to Ullapool from London and from there a 2.5hr ferry ride to Stornoway.

Accomodation: We stayed at the Laxdale Holiday Park. We booked their bunkhouse which was a lounge, kitchen, 2 toilets, 2 showers, 4 rooms with 4 beds in each for a week it was ~£1400.

Supermarkets: There is a Tesco and a Co-op in Stornoway, which is quite big.