Skellig can be a shore-dive! You can step off the landing place at Bind Man’s Cove and glide down into a vast field of rose coral in a minute. But this fairway is busy with passenger boat traffic in season and it would be better to settle for any of the many, many boat-dive options.
An easier, more sheltered pinnacle – built, it would appear, of mauve, lilac and lime-green corinactis – stands about 50m south of Skellig Michael’s Blind Man’s Cove landing place. Well hidden, since the sea never breaks on it, the tip of this column is about 15m from the surface and 45m from the sea bed. Nearby shore marks for this reef are convenient. A particular handrail stanchion which unlike its immediate neighbours has a cube-shaped concrete base will be in transit with the southern gable of the nearby flat-roofed Rope Store.
Old Lighthouse Reef
About 100m NW of Skellig’s old, ruined North Station lighthouse lies another sunken reef which is almost awash at low water. Even on a very calm day, the telltale swirl of water will advertise this site. Again, seldom fished, it is another shellfish outpost – except on its western face where only a crab could cling to its 60m. drop off!
You must dive Skellig Michael’s Blue Cove, keeping an eye out for a cross-inscribed stone slab which disappeared – presumably fell – in recent times from the monastic hermitage archaeological site at the island’s sheer, overhanging South Peak, 219m above the sea.
US Navy PB4Y-I
The cliff face about 100m west of Blue Cove is a must. Here there is a chance, an off-chance, of finding something, anything, from a US navy PB4Y-l Liberator bomber which hit the South Peak and plunged into the sea without survivors or wreckage in February 1944.
Another un-missable dive is Seal Cove! Seals, yes, but this is also where a complete lighthouse, together with all its history, was dumped into the sea in 1963! An engraved lighthouse telescope of 1950 found here at 30m. by local diver Billy Rafter and is now a treasured exhibit at the Skellig Experience visitor centre on Valentia.
The Washerwoman’s Rocks situated 1 cable southwest from the Lighthouse Point are a very visible outcrop of rocks indicating a reef which runs southwestwards and are an excellent dive site. It is recommended to dive these at slack water to avoid tides. Descending at the middle rock, underwater the pinnacles merge into a reef which is both colourful and abounds with fish life. Depths range from shallow to 40m and at a leisurely rate the reef can be circumnavigated in one dive. Lobster, crayfish, squat lobster, crab, shoals of pollock, wrasse and many anenomes are to be found on this dive. Care must be taken as nets and pots are often placed in this area. Use of the diver down flag is essential on this, as on all sites at Skellig.