Did you know that some of the world's most exciting wreck diving spots are found in Scotland? Nestled in the heart of the captivating Orkney Islands, Scapa Flow offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore one of the world's best kept secrets when it comes to wreck diving sites, and together with the surrounding islands of Mainland, Burray and Hoy make this one of the largest sheltered anchorages in the world and a graveyard of sunken ships. The wrecks here are phenomenal; their size awesome and history quite incredible. Many people who will never even get their feet wet are fascinated with what lies beneath the surface. It was for this very reason Lonely Planet called Scapa Flow one of the top treasure hunting trips in the world!
But first things first. Scapa Flow is a body of water about 120 square miles in area and with an average depth of 30 to 40 metres. The Orkney Mainland and South Isles encircle Scapa Flow, making it a sheltered harbour with easy access to both the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The area is teeming with a history that spans the centuries and encompasses both grievous losses and magnificent victories. In the early 1800s, it was used as a deep water anchorage for trading ships waiting to cross the North Sea to Baltic ports during the Napoleonic wars, and later in the 20th century to defend against Germany during World Wars I and II.
You’ll find an astonishing diversity of wrecks at Scapa Flow, along with fascinating stories behind them – from vast battleships resting in the heart of Scapa Flow, to smaller blockships dotted along the rugged coastline, to seven warships of the German High Seas Fleet. While some wrecks offer a stimulating challenge for technical divers, others give a fantastic introduction to wreck diving. One thing is sure though: each wreck provides an emotive insight into a bygone era, compelling divers to return to Orkney time and time again.
Scapa Flow is also home to a wide variety of wildlife both above and below the water and each wreck is now a thriving ecosystem. Animals such as starfish and urchins cover the wrecks and inject vibrancy and colour; the multitude of nooks and crannies provide the perfect hiding spot for crabs and lobsters; while the wrecks themselves teem with fish.