Diving

donegal diving location

Our Scuba Diving Centre

In addition to the high standard of accommodation on offer, because of our location we have also tailored additional facilities specifically to meet the needs of scuba diving clubs. The following are elements which we hope will provide a really excellent diving experience for your clubs trip to beautiful Donegal, Ireland.

aras entranceScuba Diving Facilities

  • Affordable, hotel standard, accommodation for groups of up to 50+ individuals.
  • Audio-visual facilities for training & dive preparation.
  • All rooms en-suite with piping hot showers.
  • Wet entrance, with facilities to wash down your gear after a dive.
  • Drying area to hang up your gear between dives.
  • Prepared group meals now also available.
  • Most importantly, with Malinbeg pier just 5 minutes away and St Johns point less than an hour, we have a wealth of great diving on our doorstep.

 

A Wealth of Diving in and around Malinbeg

There are a wealth of dive sites in the immediate area. Just four of the many options are described here.

scuba diving donegalShore Dive, Malinbeg Harbour

Malinbeg is a narrow, long, south-facing inlet, widening at its mouth into Donegal Bay. Entering the water at the slip proceed underwater across the harbour, around some large rocks, until you come to the edge of a sandy patch. Here the depth is between 6-10m with plenty of seaweed-covered rocks amongst the sandy patches.

Exploration of the vicinity will result in the discovery of crabs, sponges, small blennies and an abundance of small dabs and plaice. Crossing over the sand to the far edge, proceed south for about 70m. Here, if the divers look carefully, they will find a collection of boulders under kelp at the edge of the sand. Lobsters can be commonly seen, however these creatures are very wary of intruders and can disappear into their holes, so an approach with care is necessary in order to see them. At this point the diver changes direction to go west towards the large sea stack which dominates the inner harbour. The stack consists of a large quantity of natural iron which upsets compasses, but from 8m underwater you can clearly see the stack against the skyline making it reasonably easy to find.

The base of the stack provides a habitat for soft corals, squat lobsters, blennies, jewel anemones, sea urchins and a conger eel or two. Diving around the stack is very interesting and if the diver takes time to investigate the many nooks and crannies of this spectacular rock, then a whole new world of underwater life and colour will appear.

To return to the pier swim off the stack towards the nearest easterly sandy patch, head north following the edge of the sand and after 100m change direction west where you should surface back at the quay wall. This is also a spectacular location for a night dive. Two street lamps on the cliff overlooking the quay light up the underwater terrain and act also as navigational marks.

Following the same dive plan as above the diver is likely to come across night creatures which inhabit the stack, such as conger eels and lobsters, while the blennies and other fish can be found asleep in the crevices.

Shark Rock Diving

scuba diving irelandThe westward side of the harbour mouth is called on the charts “Tharal Point”, but unmarked just to the East of the point is a rock which breaks at low water known as “Shark Rock”. Care must be taken if boating in this area during high tide as it is very easy to hit this rock.

Shark Rock provides a variety of topography from reef walls to narrow gullies. If the weather allows, the best entry point is between the rock and the headland just inside of the harbour. At a depth of 8m the diver will find a kelp-covered reef which falls onto a rocky bottom with sand patches at 18m. Keeping the reef wall to the right proceed at 15m until the start of a gully.

A little further in, the gully divides into two paths, on the right a narrow, long, cave-like gully which leads to the outside of Tharal Point and on the left a gully which leads to the seaward side of Shark Rock. Choose either of these gullies and you will find jewel anemones, sponges and soft corals covering the walls like a brightly coloured carpet. The water normally has 20-30m visibility and overhead, shoals of pollack and occasional herring can be found passing into Donegal Bay. Amongst the other unusual sights on this dive is an abundance of rainbow wrasse.

Heading south out of the gullies will lead the diver into deep water – in excess of 34m. Here the bottom consists of large boulders with much fish life but few sponges or corals. To avoid deep water turn east after leaving the gully and you will come to a further series of gullies. After about 70m change north and this should bring you to the outside of Shark Rock. Beware that the sea breaks heavily at low tide and care should be taken when surfacing to avoid ascending through the surf caused by the rock.

aquatic lifeGloster Rock Dive

On rounding Tharal Point, staying well clear of the submerged Shark Rock, a large jagged rock can be seen. This is called Gloster Rock. Depths around the rock vary from 15m-25m on the East side to over 40m on the South.

Starting on the east side of the rock, in the lee of the prevailing sea and wind, there is a gully with a depth of 20m. The descent into the gully shows off the full splendour of the reef wall with the ubiquitous anemones, seaweeds, sponges, squat lobsters and corals. Following the gully as it narrows, keeping the rock to your left, brings the diver to three “swim through” caves at between 20-25m. These “swim throughs” are very close together and lead the diver to the outside of the Gloster Rock.

At this point, one can ascend out of the gully to 15m which allows the diver to swim around the west and south tip of the rock. However, by following the gully the diver will find that the depth increases to 30m where the scenery is mainly sea sculptured boulders. In this terrain Ling and Codling can be found, while above, shoals of mackerel pass by sparkling of blue, silver and grey.

By returning through the caves the diver will surface not far from where the dive commenced, but if he continues along the gully it is possible to surface on the West side of the rock in a choppy sea hidden from the cover boat.

Diving from the east of “Gloster Rock” leads away from a series of small gullies onto a boulder strewn terrain dominated by kelp and other seaweeds. There is little to be seen here except for the iridescent rainbow wrasse.

The south of the rock, however, offers deep water to over 40m. The underwater rock strata descends into the deep water incorporating little drop-offs and reefs to about 35m when the bottom levels off into small boulders. Occasionally conger eels have been seen swimming, while at 35m strange rock formations can be found, one of which resembles the ribs and keel of a fossilized boat.

Rathlin OʼBirne Island Cave Dive

2km west from Malinbeg is Rathlin Oʼ Birne Island, dominated by the lighthouse. Diving around here is wide and varied drop-offs, caves and gullies. An excellent offshore dive site with average visibility of 20m.