There are many excellent sites around Valentia that make the long drive well worth it. The Skelligs make a spectacular dive. Plenty to keep the sports divers happy.
Tom McCarthy organised a trip here over the Easter weekend, 2005. Niamh Butler knows the area very well as well.
Knightstown is the local port where the ferry arrives into. It has two or three slips one can launch off. Another slip on the Island is at Donnybrook which is reasonable close to where we are staying and closer to the dive sites. Portmagee on the mainland also has a slip. Both Donnybrook and Portmagee are difficult to retrieve from at low tides. Knightstown has piers that allows retrieval at any time.
There is also a slip in St. Finan’s Bay which allows easy access to Puffin Island and Lemon Rock as well as being closer to the Skelligs.
There are garages in Knightstown and Chapeltown if you need to get petrol.
Knightstown Harbour Master: 066 9476124 (Public mooring is free.) Cahersiveen Marina 066 9472777.
Tides are not reported to be a problem in the area. The nearest tidal diamond is too far away to be of any use. Valentia Hrb is reported to be Cobh -0118 with a tidal range of MHWS 3.5, MHWN 2.8, MLWN 1.2 and MLWS 0.4.
Additional tidal information given on Imray Chart C56. Underwater Ireland Tidal Constant: Dublin +0458.
The Dive Ireland guide has quite a bit of information on the sites in the area, as well as a map.
Great Skellig Island 51°46.400N 10°32.200W
These are about 40min off shore (from Portmagee) by RIB which is approx. 8 miles. The most spectacular diving on these giant rocks is between 15m and 35m, but divers can choose their depth. There are sheer drop-offs, ledges crammed with marine life and an abundance of fish. Visibility is often 30m plus….a photographers paradise. The rocks are a home to a colony of inquisitive seals, who often play with divers.
Little Skellig Island 51°46.900N 10°30.400W
There are also the remains of an ancient wreck on little Skelligs and a large seal colony. The shelter of the South West tip is probably the best diving location.
Bray Head 51°52.800N 10°25.795W
Ledges at the western end of Valentia Island running from 10m to 40m with a kaleidoscope of colours, masses of fish and diving sea-birds, this site is best dived during slack water.
Just south of Bray Head there is plentiful diving along the cliffs. Possible dive sites include Long Island, Doon Point, Gull Point, Lamb Island, Dromgour Point and Lemontounagher Rock. Depths range from a nice shallow 20m to 50m deep.
Doulus Head 51°52.800N 10°25.795W
An area north of Valentia Island on the mainland. A shallow dive (around 20m) with plenty of colourful flora and fauna and caves to explore.
Oilean an Iasc (Fish Island) 51°52.800N 10°25.795W
To the north of Valentia harbour and just north of Doulus Head, this inlet is home to a wide variety of fish life and crustaceans including mussels, crabs and lobsters. The best diving is between 10m and 30m, with lots of nooks and crannies – a torch is a must on this dive.
Includes Beginish Island and Lamb Island and give some sheltered diving during rough weather. A trawler wreck in the harbour gives a bit of variety.
A fantastic site for night dives and for novices, with clear, sheltered water, a wreck at 12m and lots to see including scallops, pouting, ling, lobsters, shrimps and conger eels.
Basalt Point on Beginish Island is an excellent dive site with lovely boulders at about 35m and plenty of gullies and swim throughs.
Although shallow (approx 3m) there is a very worthwhile night dive around the pier in Knightstown, specifically the pier beside the public toilets. It would not be advisable to dive here during the day due to boat traffic. You can enter via the steps or walk down the slip into the water.
The stones of the pier are widely spaced and the gaps allow plenty of scope for fish and other animals to make their homes. Being a fishing harbour people tend to throw unwanted fish off the pier, leading to a proliferation of life. This combination makes this dive one of the best night dives in the country. There are congers, many active lobsters, flatfish and blennies in the gaps between the stones, and small pipefish that may be attracted to the beam of your light. The most striking feature of the dive though are the throngs of squat lobsters – literally dozens of them everywhere you look.
You need the usual boat safety equipment: O2, 1st Aid Kit, flares, VHF, GPS. Also make note of the following:
- Valentia Coastguard
- VHF Channels 16, 67, 24, DSC 70
- Working channel
- Emergency services
- 112 (or 999) on land
- Recompression chamber
- Galway, 091 580580, ask for Dept.of Anaesthesia
- Craigavon Area Hospital Lurgan Road Portadown
- Day time phone numbers +44 1762 334444, Emergency phone numbers +44 1762 336711, Principal medical director Dr John E Galway, 24 hour cover, on site hospital helicopter/winch point, 60 minutes chamber mobilisation time
- Nearest hospital
- Tralee general hospital, +353 (0)66 7126222 or 064 31076
- Lifeboat (RNLI)
There are several local dive operators in Valentia.Sandra and Martin Moriarty
Valentia Island Sea Sports
Tel: (00353) 66 9476204
Fax: (00353) 669476367
Mobile: (087) 2420714
Also try the Lavelles.
Bright spacious house with panoramic views. 5 bedrooms, 3 ensuite. Downstairs bathroom. Large open plan kitchen, diner, seats 10. Cosy lounge and sunny family room opening onto Large patio. Peaceful location. Close to local amenities. Bed linen and towels are provided – but I would still bring some.
Normally 420 euro for 10 but were charged 450 euro for 12. Electricity and heating is operated on a meter – bring change.
To get there, take the road to the grotto from Chapel Town. Approx 1km on the right.
Diarmaid’s brother Mossie lives on the island and has three cottages that he rents to divers on a regular basis. He can be contacted for help at any stage.
This accommodation was booked in early December for the following March and was very difficult to get. It was actually the only accommodation that I could get to sleep 12 of us. Note for future trips: book early!
Also try Valentia Island Cottages.
No restaurants were visited but there are a few around with possible the best being in Cahirciveen. This is also the location of the nearest Banklink.
There is a supermarket and garage in both Knightstown and Chapeltown.
Bostons pub and the Hotel/hostel are good evening spots for a drink or two. Bostons also has a pool table where you can show off your Steve Davis impressions while the Guinness in the hostel is top class.
You can get more information about the area from the following sources:
You can get directions from the route planner on the AA website.