The waters around the shores of Orkney are a treasure trove for divers looking for the ultimate underwater adventure. Sunken battle ships, tankers and submarines are just some of the ruined vessels lying on the seabed of the waters around the region.
The calmer waters of Scapa Flow lie like a lagoon within the surrounding islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. This 50 square mile expanse of deep water is one of the largest naturally sheltered anchorages in the world and is a graveyard of sunken ships with over a dozen wrecks waiting to be discovered.
‘The Flow’ is world-renowned for its strategic importance in two World Wars as a safe harbour to the British fleet, and as a final resting place of many courageous mariners. In 1919 after the Armistice was signed, the high seas German fleet was ordered to scuttle with 74 ships sent to the bottom of Scapa Flow. Many of the ships were salvaged but eight German wrecks still remain, preserved as a haven for diving exploration which can be viewed prior to dives with a detailed interactive 3D viewer.
Towards the west of Scapa Flow, dives around three sunken blockships provide a fantastic experience in the Burra Sound. The very tidal nature of the Burra Sound means that dives are only accessible in slack water meaning that visibility of often exceptional at 20 to 30 m on average. One of the wrecks, the 2332 tonne Gobernor, is a magnet for marine life with a variety of species likely to be spotted.
Many other ships were also sunk in Burra Sound and now lay broken on the seabed. A drift dive can be arranged to take in the remains of most of the ships.
Whilst being famous for its wreck diving of German warships, there is also a large amount of scenic diving to be discovered in Orkney. Sitting on the edge of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, Orkney benefits from clean nutrient rich waters, which are not only perfect diving conditions but also in turn feed the diverse marine life. Some of the smaller islands are ideal for spotting a range of fantastic wildlife, such as seals, porpoises and dolphins. Several types of whale are also seen swimming in the deeper waters around the region.