In this useful scuba diving guide to the Menai Strait, North Wales, UK shore diving author and BSAC member Anita Sherwood shares her top tips with the diving community.
The Menai Strait offers an opportunity for a very special dive. The currents under the bridge can reach up to seven knots, so diving on neaps and on slacks is a must. Due to the extremely strong currents, underwater life is astonishingly rich and full of diversity. The dive starts on the furthest pillar of the Menai bridge, on the Britannia Bridge side and finishes opposite the yellow diamond telephone cable sign.
To get maximum dive time, it’s best to set out 5mins before slack water occurs to allow for a surface snorkel across the channel to the island. Drop down 10m to find a beautiful garden of anemones and sponges, punctuated with crabs all along the reef. Follow the wall down, keeping the reef on your left shoulder. The occasional lobster warily lurches from its lair but soon retreats seeing the passing diver. Continuing along, the current will pick up slightly as you go under the bridge.
Along the drift, you’ll see plenty of dogfish, butterfish and scorpion fish, often perched on top of really bizarre sponge formations. After this, the current dies down to almost nothing until the hour of slack water wears off. Eventually, you’ll reach the pipe – follow this up to end your dive on the beach.
On the way up, you should pass over a particular hot-spot of dahlia anemones – absolutely beautiful in such diverse colours. With good viz, you could imagine yourself in the coral gardens of the Red Sea.
Location: Isle of Anglesey, North Wales
Directions: A55 Anglesey-Conwy υ left A5 Holyhead road υ left Lon Cei Bont υ park in either 2 small lay-bys under bridge
Sat Nav: LL59 5HD (nearest postcode)
Grid refs: SH555715Lat: 53:13:17N Lon: 4:09:52W
Air fill: Vivian Diving Centre: 01286 870889 www.divevivian.com
Currents: Yes, slack dive enter 3hrs 15mins before LW Liverpool on neaps (lasts 1hr)
Hazards: Possible boat traffic
B&B: Ashbrook: 01248 371352
Campsite: Fron: 01248 430310
Pub food: The Bridge Inn: 01248 716888
Coastguard: Holyhead: 01407 762051/763911
This UK Diving article was originally published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 108 November 2020.
Featured image by Anita Sherwood - A hot-spot of dahlia anemones
Anita is also the author of two beautifully illustrated, authoritative guides to UK shore diving, find out more.