Kilkee, Co. Clare

Newfoundout

Description: Near the car park on the south side of the bay, down steep steps, Newfoundout is the most sheltered of all Kilkee dive sites and is usually accessible in all but the worst conditions. It is ideal for trainees and the inexperienced diver. The best course is to proceed over kelp 30° west of north towards the inner face of Duggerna Head. There is a rock reef on a sandy bottom and has a max. depth of 10m.

Myles Creek

Description: Myles Creek is a north-facing inlet on the top of the Duggerna Rocks, a large reef covered by tides at the mouth of Kilkee Bay. It is accessed by road on the south side of the bay and trekking over the rocks at low water. Beware of slipping and allow plenty of time in your planning. Except in very calm conditions, when it can be dived from a boat, the site is otherwise very tide sensitive. For shore diving, it is essential to enter the water before low water, preferably 30 minutes before. This gives you a dive in calm water. If there is white water out there, or a bad forecast, don’t dive it. The creek is initially shallow (3m) with a ladder for bathers in summer time. There is a drop off to about 14m into a sheltered valley, often with startlingly clear water, given reasonable conditions. This has spectacular colour on the floor and walls covered with anemones and is generally populated by a variety of fish. If one follows the left-hand cliff, this turns round a corner and the protection ceases. You are now on a more normal dive site with kelp on the floor.
Go north to the next drop, about 20m. Again follow the cliff on your left and you will eventually encounter a large cave in usually clear conditions at about 33m. You should check your air and perhaps start back.
This dive can be made from the sea. However, there are submerged rocks both sides of the entrance. The shallow valley is ideal for novices in very calm conditions at only 14m and clear water. An excellent site for snorkellers too. On a shore dive, you have to exit in exactly the same place and must navigate back correctly. The alternative is an almost impossibly long swim around the reef to Newfoundout.

The Diamond Rocks

Description: The name comes from the quartz in the rocks, which glistens in the sunshine. This dive is accessible by land along a path leading to nearby Lookout Hill overlooking Intrinsic Bay, named after the ship which was wrecked there at the end of the 1800s. An anchor and some metal are believed to remain in the bay, if you care to search it. Underwater, there is a reef about 6–9m deep, which protects a deep valley about 30m deep between itself and the shore. This protection can sometimes give rise to exceptional visibility within the valley. There is a nice approach from outside the reef, which crosses over two circular holes at the narrow entry which are about 6m deeper than the floor and are often full of both edible and spider crabs. The sea face of the reef falls in steps from about 20m down to 40m+. It is interesting and varied. Avoid the reef in any type of white water, wave action etc. This is a fair weather dive only.

Black Rocks

Description: This is a shore dive, very suitable for trainees, on the north side of the harbour opposite the golf club. There is a pathway and some steps to the inlet with a short climb to the water. This site is affected by the prevailing westerly winds. A long narrow and deepening channel leads (about 2m down to 10m at its mouth) towards the centre of the bay. The best approach for a dive is single file. The mouth of the channel is its lowest point with some kelp-covered rocks and a few wrasse. The area outside is broken and not too interesting. Return through the same channel as there is no other easy exit, so navigation is essential.

Doctor’s Rock

Description: Dive 1: Located on the face of Duggerna Reef this is a pleasant shore dive that begins in a sheltered rock pool, proceeds through a narrow channel into a wider bay of water and drops at the beginning of the main reef face. It is generally necessary to return by the same route for safety, so a sense of navigation and monitoring of air consumption are required. The pool which is easy to enter is shallow and weedy, with occasional pockets of depth. The channel has deep grooves each side of the shallow centre rock, which provide access to the sea. The northern side is more interesting, save this for the return journey.
The outer pool starts at about only 5m, but is beautifully coloured with a carpet of anemones. Depth increases seawards until one reaches a drop-off face to about 15m, there is a small cave on this face which is more often home to very large conger eels. These eels sometimes move around the general area and may even pass you during the dive. They are not dangerous just big!
Follow the rock face to the north (keeping it on your right), when the floor changes from solid to stones and eventually back to solid rock with a light carpet of anemones and moss, check your air supply. If all members have enough air proceed further along cliff face which gets better and better. Air is really the big factor here, if you have to surface before the pool, you will not get back easily except in very calm conditions.
Dive 2: Follow the same course until you sight a large rock on the seaward side, circle this and return along the face towards pool drop-off. If the air supply is sufficient, continue south along the rock face to yet another offshore rock. Circle this (go under the fallen rock arch) and then return along the rock face to the pool drop-off, ascend and navigate back. If your group has enough air, you can explore around the north area of the outer pool or through the caves on the north side of the channel on the way back. This can be a very simple and pleasant dive. Flora and fauna vary throughout the year, even from year to year. Diveable only in calm conditions, it can be ideal for trainees, but be aware of the potential problems of the site,
Dangers: slippery rocks, the site is very tide sensitive, the turning tide may make return difficult. The best entry is about 30 minutes before low tide, also it is necessary to exit in the same place, due to more difficulty elsewhere. Air awareness is essential for both these reasons, surfacing in breaking waves can be dangerous.
Dive 3: In suitable conditions, you can jump off the rocks in corner of the Outer Pool and swim for the open sea, where there is a drop to 19m approx, with an overhang cliff covered in anemone patterns and crab colonies. Return with the rock face on your left until you come to the cave drop-off (first dive above), signposting your return route. This dive needs calm seas, low tide and a knowledge of the area. Beware of sea urchins!

Middle Rock

Description: Located in the mouth of Kilkee Bay this is one of the finest dive locations in the area, a very large hunk of indented rock, the middle rock of a group shown on the charts as “Black Rocks”. That just about describes the colour of the exposed peaks visible at low tide. This is the most diveable of the three and is well worth a visit or two, there is more than one good dive here! Three of the four faces, all except the east, are worthwhile. The north face is the easiest to approach, but is less well lit particularly in the evening. The ideal approach is in calm conditions at low water, when the rock is visible.
Find the trench near the Cnap (peak), follow this southwards. The trench widens and deepens, as you near the south face of the rock. On the right-hand side of the trench you will notice a slotted hole, this slopes downwards and exits at the back of a cave facing deeper open water. Beware of the occasional strands of coral as you come out at about 27m deep on the bottom which then slopes away to the south.
There are a few more features on the south face where the light is best. A different approach is to try to find the Arch Hole. This is an impressive cathedral vault opening to the west, it is hard to find as prevailing weather conditions don’t always allow shallow water searches. Approached from below the effect is noticeable.
After leaving the arch or on any other dive you can work along the rock face at your choice of depth, crossing over the west face. Depth increases rapidly towards Outer Rock. There are indented low caves on the seaward face where you can see many prawns squat lobsters and the occasional resting monkfish. Pollack hang just off the rock in mid water.

Outer Rock

Description: As its name describes this is the most seaward rock of the Black Rocks and is only visible at low tide and may only be dived in good weather even then there can be a large swell. It is a good site with sheer cliff faces rich in fish and plant life. There is an arch on the inner face and the maximum depth is over 35m.

George’s Head

Description: George’s Head at the mouth of Kilkee Bay has more than one dive. The force of the Atlantic has shaped the terrain to give a number of saw-toothed ridges with a vertical face on the exposed side and a sloped back on the landward side. There are a number of canyons, cliff faces and a tunnel running into the head itself. It is the terrain, rather than flora in this exposed location, which is the real attraction of the area. Diving is possible in most reasonable sea conditions, avoiding areas of breaking waves.
Area A
Description: This is a 15m exploration of the channel which cuts into the head, you can see through the cliff above water level. This needs reasonably calm water. You can explore the channel , which is longer than it seems, the bottom of which is covered in huge boulders. No plant life, but often shellfish and the occasional tope. On leaving, if air allows, follow the cliff to the left. A very larger conger occupies a low wide hole near a large rock, worth a look!
Area B
Description: This dive is possible in almost all except the most severe weather conditions. Once the inner line of the head cuts off the view of the hut in Burn’s Cove and if the boat stays 100m+ from the land, avoiding the waves formed at the corner, it is even possible to anchor. Drop in the nearest valley and work from there. Navigation skills are recommended. In rougher conditions it is better towards south or west. In calm conditions all directions give pleasing results.
The Valley marked B is worthwhile and leads to a nice open cliff face. The cliff which faces southwest, is usually well lit and has good fish life. There are some caves and varied terrain with a few strands or coral.
The cliff face reminds on of Arizona, it is stark and majestic in its form and colour. To find it cross the ridge. The valley leads back towards the head and Chimney Bay and is not shownhere in full detail.
Outside this cliff line are a number of interesting canyons both blind and connected by narrow passages. At this time no definite information is available.

Illaunabaha

Description: The headland just before Biraghty Mor has a reef running westwards. It is sheer on its south side and sloped on its north side. The rock bottom on the south side varies from 25m to 35m+ and the ground away from the rock is deep. The plant and fish life is very colourful, the north side slopes away to 40m+. the reef is diveable up to Force 4 winds but be careful in strong swells. A good site for “diving spiritual renewal” and almost always a satisfying dive.

Biraghty Mor

Description: About 1km north of Kilkee Bay this island is worth a visit. With a sheer face on the landward side and sloped on the sea face it is sheltered from the westerly swells. It has a rock bottom on a sheer face varying from 25-35m+ with the ground away from the rock very deep. The plant and fish life is excellent. The shelter of the rock allows diving inside a large cave at its SW corner.

Biraghty Beg

Description: A rocky island about 1.5km north of Kilkee, smaller than Biraghty Mor and thus more exposed to the prevailing winds. Dived only is calm water the site is not well known. The ground is more varied with channels but there is less life then Biraghty Mor.
Warning: Beware of nets!

Nearest Coast Cam

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