Every year more than 18.3 million visitors descend upon Cardiff, eager to explore its countless castles and to find out first-hand why it is known as the City of Arcades (the city boasts the largest concentration of Edwardian, Victorian and modern-day indoor shopping arcades in Britain). While there is a myriad of tourist attractions to explore in the area, there is also a somewhat lesser-known past-time that is fast gaining popularity: diving. With a number of accredited scuba diving centers located in Cardiff and a host of spectacular diving sites scattered along the coast, any ardent diver will be more than spoiled for choice as far as underwater adventures are concerned.
St Martin’s is one of the UK’s deepest shore dives offering divers depths of more than 30m during high tide. The beach is protected as a part of the Skomer Nature Marine Reserve and has two dives that are easy to access from the shore. The west side of the bay boasts a number of ledges between 12 and 25 meters depths and is home to an abundance of nudibranch species including the Spanish dancer, blue glaucus, and the clown nudibranch. The eastern part of the bay is alive with marine life ranging from sponges and lobsters to eels and octopi. The entire bay is very well protected from currents and swells and is suitable for experienced as well as novice divers.
This quaint collection of rocks is approximately a 20-minute boat ride from Little Haven and is very easy to access which is exactly why this is such a popular site during diving season. Depth ranges between 5 and 24 meters with the waters offering some of the best visibility on the entire coastline. During the warmer seasons, large amounts of triggerfish can be spotted while seals, butterfish, spider crabs, lobster, and brilliantly-coloured jewel anemones also call the waters surrounding the rocks home. The dive is suited to divers of all skill levels and affords spectacular underwater photography opportunities thanks to the pristine waters and prolific marine life.
St Bride’s Haven
If you are looking for a calm, picturesque dive that is also safe and easy to access, St Bride’s Haven is the place to be. When diving here you will start out on a white sandy beach that is fringed by lush kelp forests, before slowly making your way to depths of between 12 and 18 meters. Visibility can reach up to 15m, allowing for frequent spottings of dogfish, octopus, cuttlefish, Pollock, crabs, lobsters anemones and nudibranchs. The right-hand-side of the bay is significantly shallower than the left and boasts two beautiful gullies known as “The Witches Caldron” and “The Blowhole”, the first of which is a U-bend shaped gully that is completely engulfed in kelp and the latter a sunken ring shape with kelp surrounding the entrance. St Bride’s Haven offers ideal diving conditions for divers of all skill levels and often forms part of dive tours operated by local diving outfits.
Diving can be as exhilarating as it is relaxing and also affords you with the best marine-life encounters you can dream of. Even if you have no intention to dive when originally planning your trip to Cardiff it is undoubtedly worth considering setting aside a day or two to explore the vast underwater kingdom of the Welsh coastline.