This was not my first rodeo scuba diving in Cornwall, but let me tell you – this trip was one for the books!
In short, Cornwall offered one of the best scuba diving I’ve had in my recent years with its crystal clear waters, diverse marine wildlife, and thrilling underwater topography across 5 epic dive sites.
After years of traveling the world and diving in God knows how many sites, I can definitively say Cornwall deserves a spot on any diver’s bucket list. The diving here combines the best of tropical coral reefs and cold-water kelp forests.
Table of Contents
- 1 Eddystone Reef – Encountering a Humongous Grey Sausage
- 2 Looe Marine Conservation Zone – A Sanctuary Under the Waves
- 3 Cornwall’s Only National Marine Park – Padstow Bay and Trevose Head
- 4 The Manacles – Legendary Diving among Granite Reefs
- 5 Cornwall’s Shipwreck Graveyard – Mounts Bay
- 6 Cornwall’s Spectacular Underwater World – A Scuba Paradise
Eddystone Reef – Encountering a Humongous Grey Sausage
The Eddystone Reef was the first stop on my Cornwall scuba diving tour. Located 10 miles off the coast, this offshore reef has become a hub for marine life.
As soon as we submerged, we were greeted by a curious grey seal, the good omen! And believe me when I tell you, gliding along with this curious water sausage brought me immense child-like joy. The seal took a special interest in getting up close and personal to inspect my tank rattler. Over 100 seals call Eddystone home, making it one of the best places in Cornwall for seal encounters.
The reef itself was carpeted in stunning jewel anemones in every color of the rainbow. Red sea fingers, sponges, and coral formed a bustling marine metropolis for fish like conger eels and pollack to inhabit. Eddystone is famous for its biodiversity, and I spotted new species on every dive.
The Exciting Shipwrecks of Eddystone
Eddystone Reef is also known for its shipwrecks. As I finned along the seafloor, the masts of sunken ships jutted up like skeletal remains. These well-preserved wreck sites have become artificial reefs, encrusted with corals and sponges. I felt like I was diving back in time!
Some standout wrecks include the S.S. Ebrington, a 19th-century passenger steamer, and the H.M.S. Scylla, a once-formidable navy frigate.
Penetrating these time capsules was like swimming through living museums. schools of fish now call these wrecks home, swarming around me as I explored the ghostly cabins and decomposed decks. Definitely don’t miss the iconic shipwrecks of Eddystone on your Cornwall diving adventure!
Looe Marine Conservation Zone – A Sanctuary Under the Waves
After diving with the seals at Eddystone, I headed to the Looe Marine Conservation Zone near the charming fishing town of Looe. This protected area offers pristine rocky reefs and kelp forests to explore.
As I descended through swirling schools of blue-green wrasse and bib, the rocky seascape unfolded before me. Delicate pink sea fans swayed in the current, providing nurseries for juvenile fish. Spider crabs scuttled along the boulders, blending in with their surroundings.
Rare Seahorses and Other Wonders
One of my guide’s favorite parts of Looe is spotting the elusive short-snouted seahorse among the seagrass. These rare and tiny creatures are masters of camouflage, but we lucked out and found one! Its intricate geometry amazed me as it wrapped its tail around a blade of grass.
We also saw feather stars stretching their noodly arms wide to feed, and the alien-like dragonet fish hunkered down on the sand. Looe’s strict protection has allowed its marine residents to thrive. Nowhere else in Cornwall has rewarded my dives with such diversity!
Cornwall’s Only National Marine Park – Padstow Bay and Trevose Head
Further up the coast lies the Trevose Head and Padstow Bay region – Cornwall’s only national marine park. With uniquePermissionsStatuspermision from the harbor master, we explored this protected paradise.
Boulders encrusted in coral dropped off into sandy slopes filled with dragonets and shrimp. Octopuses peeked out from rocky crevices to watch us pass. Since commercial fishing is restricted here, large species like conger eels, ling, and pollack flourished.
Canyons and Caves of Padstow Bay
As we ventured farther offshore, the seafloor gave way to dramatic cliffs and canyons. We dropped into these underwater ravines, finning through rainbows cast by the sunlight above.
Near Trevose Head, arches and swim-throughs pierced the towering rock formations. We swam through these sea caves, illuminated by rays of light penetrating the entrance. It was an awe-inspiring dive into Cornwall’s aquatic wilderness.
As usual, William, my dive buddy got a nasty swipe on his wrist by brushing against a rockwall. We had to call it a day.
The Manacles – Legendary Diving among Granite Reefs
Out of everywhere I dived in Cornwall, the Manacles impressed me the most. This rocky labyrinth lies south of the Lizard Peninsula, named after the treacherous “manacles” of hidden reefs that have claimed many ships.
We navigated through the maze of jagged granite pinnacles that make this site famous. The reefs were carpeted in vibrant jewel anemones, sponges, and sea squirts. As I finned through opalescent clouds of fish, this dazzling oasis felt like an alien planet.
The Most Adrenaline-Pumping Dive Site in Cornwall
What sets the Manacles apart is the powerful currents surging through its rocky corridors. We drifted effortlessly past walls of reef, watching for gaps to dart through. There’s no better adrenaline rush!
As we zoomed along, I looked up at the seagulls circling overhead through the wavy surface. I tell you not, these nasty aviators will not think twice before swooping in and snatching the water or juice Camelbak pouch right off your hand during surface stops if they’re not bolt-snapped to your BCD.
Woke up this curious gentleman and immediately felt bad afterward.
Sunlight dappled the granite boulders looming below. The Manacles blends lush scenery with thrilling adventure unlike anywhere else in Cornwall.
Cornwall’s Shipwreck Graveyard – Mounts Bay
For our last dive, we wanted to experience Cornwall’s infamously treacherous waters firsthand at Mounts Bay. With over 600 recorded shipwrecks, this bay represents the graveyard of Cornwall’s perilous shores.
This time I switched to side-mount for better comfort while entering the wrecks and to prevent neck strains from constantly gluing my head to the manifold.
All said and done, we descended into the eerie gloom, the silhouettes of broken ships emerging. We finned across collapsed decks and peered inside fractured hulls of legendary wrecks of the Mohegan and Eilenroc. Unfortunately, we (my leaking pony tank was the culprit here actually) had to head to the surface without setting our feet inside the Carl wreckage.
Storms and hidden rocks have left these vessels shattered. I swear I saw unnatural movements in my peripheral vision while scouting the shattered decks of Mohegan. Was it a darting fish? or was it …never mind.
As I hovered inside the fractured bow of the Eilenroc, I almost felt the abject terror of its crew fighting sinking swells. Schools of fish now inhabit these ghostly graves. It was a haunting dive into legend.
The Haunting Allure of Mounts Bay’s Shipwrecks
Diving the shipwrecks of Mounts Bay offered insight into the forces that have made Cornwall such an iconic yet dangerous seascape. As heart-pounding as it was, exploring the final resting places of these beautiful ships was deeply moving. Nothing spectacular to mention.
Cornwall’s Spectacular Underwater World – A Scuba Paradise
Whether you want to dive with seals, explore caverns swirling with schools of fish, or discover haunting wreck sites – Cornwall has it all. As a scuba mecca, Cornwall’s dive sites should be on every diver’s bucket list.
This trip showed me once again why I’m so drawn back to Cornwall’s shores. Beneath the waves lies a hidden world of magic and adventure. I can’t wait for my next chance to plunge into Cornwall’s spectacular aquatic kingdom!
So pack your gear and fins – Cornwall’s spectacular underwater world is calling! Just beware of the tasty Cornish pasties that await you back on land. With their buttery flaky crusts enclosingLocalBusinesslocal Cornish beef and potato, they’re as addicting as scuba diving here! But that’s a risk I’m willing to take on every trip.