You may have experienced UK holidays from above ground, but how about underwater? Tropical, turquoise waters aren't within everyone's budget, and there's plenty of good diving to be had on a UK self catering holiday. So, save yourself some pennies and splash out on having a great time in home waters instead. Here are our recommendations for the best UK diving spots..
St Mary's Island, Newcastle
St Mary's Island is England's first marine nature reserve and is a bit of a UK diving hotspot. Located just a 10 minute drive from Newcastle, St Mary's boasts several shipwrecks for divers to explore - many rate the Janet Clark at the north-eastern tip of the island as the best of these. Visibility is anything up to 15m in summer, with few currents. As well as wrecks, you may spot lobsters, porpoises, lumpsuckers, pipefish and even the odd octopus or seal pup! St Mary's Island is accessible between tides all year round, via a causeway. But a few days of good weather are needed prior to diving around the island, so bear that in mind if you fancy a winter dive. You'll also find a visitors' centre, museum, shop and cafe on the island. Find out more at www.thedivingcentre.com/local-details.asp?lid=5&cid=5610284 Northumbria holiday cottages
Menai Strait, North Wales
Holidays in Wales are made for adrenaline junkies. Separating Anglesey from mainland Wales, the Menai Strait is pretty sheltered so is good for UK diving most of the year (although visibility will vary). Divers renting one of our cottages in Wales can enjoy some great shore dives in the Menai Strait. The spongy sea bed is teeming with marine life - anemones, scorpion spider crabs and small conger eels to name but a few. The Menai Strait is also the final resting place for the HMS Conway, the last wooden warship to be built in Britain. More experienced divers can take this on, but novices will struggle with the tides and navigation. More information about Menai Strait diving can be found at www.divemagazine.co.uk/uk-diving/diving-destinations/wales/3551-menai-strait-anglesey.html Snowdonia cottages
Plymouth is a bit of a UK diving mecca, with dives suitable for all levels of experience. Whether you want reefs or wrecks, the Plymouth diving scene is hard to beat. Nine miles offshore you'll find the Hands Deep reef, which has a depth of up to 55 metres. Hands Deep is a great spot for underwater photography, with coral and sea fans galore in its clear waters as well as dogfish and crabs. Or keep an eye out for cannon balls (seriously!) in Panther Shoal, which lies between Fort Picklecombe and Breakwater Fort. Divers of an historical bent should check out the Eagan Layne wreck some 22 metres down on the sea bed. An American ship that was bringing supplies to the UK during World War II, the Eagan Layne was torpedoed by a German U-Boat as she passed by Plymouth. Covered with coral in parts, the Eagan Layne is a great UK diving spot for novices and experts alike. Or explore the fascinating HMS Scylla, which was sunk deliberately as an artificial reef in 2004. Read more about Plymouth diving at www.plymouthdiving.co.uk/ Devon cottages
St Abbs, Berwickshire, Scotland
If you're after dramatic underwater scenery, then you could do far worse than diving St Abbs. Scotland may be famed for its mountains, but there's plenty going on below the water's surface too. Take your holidays in Scotland and you could discover underwater gullies, tunnels, forests of kelp, and arches. One of the best known is Cathedral Rock, just a short swim from the harbour wall. Glimpsed from above it doesn't look particularly impressive, but dive down and you'll find a massive archway (big enough to park a double-decker bus under, apparently) covered with marine life. When the sun shines through, it really is a sight to behold. Visibility regularly reaches 12 metres, but choose to dive St Abbs on the right day and you could well enjoy up to 20 metres. The mix of warm Atlantic waters and the colder currents from the Arctic makes for incredible marine life diversity. Choose from our cottages in Scotland and discover for yourself why divers flock to St Abbs. You can find out more about diving St Abbs here: www.stabbs.org/diving.html. Edinburgh cottages
On Cornwall's Lizard Peninsula, Porthkerris is an ideal spot for anyone new to UK diving. There's great, easy shore diving to be had and a diving centre in the cove has all you need if you don't have your own equipment. You may find basking sharks soaking up the sun from late April to August - the local dive school can arrange boat trips to see them, or head out to the Manacles rocks and you might see them up close for yourself. Although they're toothless, they still possess incredible, physical power so be careful. As well as sharks, there are wrecks to be found out at the Manacles. Dive the HMS Primrose or the SS Mohegan, both of which fell victim to these treacherous rocks in the 1800s. If you're up for a spot of night diving, Porthkerris comes into its own after dark. Want to find out more? Check out www.divingcornwall.com and http://porthkerris.com/. Holiday cottages Cornwall.
Where do you like to explore underwater?