Dive sites & diving in the Sound of Mull

Both our dive charter vessels allow us to offer extended dive trips around Mull, Coll & Tiree, and the Garvellachs…

A dive on Muck Wall

The Sound of Mull offers visiting divers a range of dive sites within easy reach from Lochaline Dive Centre.  Lochaline Dive Centre skippers are available to discuss each days dive with groups the night before, or we can help you plan your entire trip before you arrive.

A two day dive trip will be enough for divers to experience the main wreck sites, Hispania, Shuna, Thesis, Rondo and Breda, and some of the scenic & drift dives.

A week long visit will add a catalogue of fantastic dives to your log book, drift dives at Loch Sunart and Calve Island, the underwater cliffs of Pennygowan Quarry and Bo’fascadale, scenic gullies & walls of the Garvellachs and Grey Rocks, plus the chance to dive on some of the Historic Wrecks in the Sound Of Mull and see some 17th Century ship armament.

The Sound is also a haven of marine life, nudibranchs, anemones, sunstars, deadmen’s fingers, sea squirts, peacock worms and pipefish to name a few.

Dive trips can be tailored to suit your diving limits and our skippers and crew can offer you a range of different dives to make the most of your dive trip.  Nitrox and trimix fills are blended to suit your diving requirements by trained gas blenders, so you get the perfect mix….


A dive on the SS Hispania


Multibeam sonar image of the Hispania.This Swedish merchant vessel (644 net tonnes) sank in 1954. The wreck remains fairly intact, and although she is gradually disintegrating with time, she remains one of Scotland’s finest wreck dives. The amount of marine growth over the hull during the summer months is quite exceptional. The Hispania is slack water dive.
Diver on the Hispania (detail - click for full size)

Right: photograph of a diver on the Hispania (click for full size).


A dive on the SS Shuna


Multibeam sonar image of the Shuna. Wrecked in 1913 while carrying a cargo of coal, the steel steamship Shuna, built in Holland (880 net tonnes), was discovered in 1991, and lies intact and upright in 30 metres (16 metres to the deck). The wreck can be dived at all states of the tide.


A dive on the SS Rondo

Multibeam sonar image of the Rondo, the double line for the bow (bottom left) is an artefact of the technique. Wrecked in 1935, this tramp steamer (2363 gross tonnes and 80 metres in length) lies bow down in 54 metres on a steep slope with the stern in 9 metres. The ship is still reasonably intact and there is a route between the keel and the rock face at about 27 metres. A slack water dive.

Fuinary Rocks

Sea lemon, photographed beneath some kelp close to shore at Fuinary. An interesting scenic dive inside of the navigation marker amidst a series of reefs and gullies close to the shore. Plenty of life among the rocks and sandy bars, including sea lemon (photographed), and snakelocks anemone. Sea pens can be found beyond 20m depth. This shore dive is easily accessible from the car park immediately prior to the Wishing Stone on the Drimnin Road. Entry to the water is easiest at high tide.

Pennygown Quarry

Running out from the shore, the sand slopes down to 20 metres before hitting a sheer cliff face to 70 metres. Rock strata here run diagonally, forming lots of crevices for marine life.

The John Preston

A dive on the John Preston Wall

The wreck of the Welsh schooner John Preston, built in 1855 in North Wales, lies on a ledge in 14-18 metres of water. This scattered wreck, and the steep wall nearby, make for an interesting dive at all states of the tide.

A virtual tour of the underwater archaeology of the John Preston can be found in our section on NAS Scotland.

Lochaline West Pier

This is an excellent shore dive on a drop-off to over 90 metres. Sponges, anemones, soft corals and lots of fish make this a very enjoyable dive (for more about the sea life, see the link from the Hotel Beach, below).

The site is well known as a deep dive training location. Please note that this is a working pier, and is also enjoyed by rod and line fishermen – beware of entanglement in old lines.

Lochaline Hotel Beach

A dahlia anemone with a diameter of about 10cm, photographed on the wall off Lochaline Hotel beach. The sandy beach in front of the hotel shelves gradually off onto a steep wall, offering contrasting environments and consequently a diverse range of life all in one dive. The shallow lagoon area, with its sandy bottom and interesting marine life, makes a good training site for inexperienced divers.

Marine life survey on Lochaline Wall by Lancashire MCS

Avon Rock

A shallow reef inshore of the red navigation marker directly opposite Lochaline. Boulders, crevices, and a steep slope to 50 metres on the outer side provide an interesting scenic dive.

Ardtornish Bay

Bathymetry of Ardtornish bay, showing the steep glacial sill cutting across the Sound running from Ardtornish Point. Often a productive scallop dive where gravel and mud lie on the flat gradual seabed gradients of the inner bay. For a good scenic dive, follow the boulder slope inshore from Ardtornish Point towards the bay. Be aware that strong currents can occur around the point and plan any dive here carefully.

The Evelyn Rose

Multi beam image of the Evalyn Rose site. The Grimsby trawler Evelyn Rose (130 net tonnes) was wrecked on Ardtornish Point in 1954 with the loss of all but two of her crew. (More about the Evelyn Rose, from FLOAT FLeetwood Online Archive of Trawlers ) This wreck lies in deep water, and was rediscovered by the Centre in 2004 as part of a series of side-scan sonar studies on wreck sites in the Sound (see ‘Searching the Sound’ below).

The site has recently been dived – see the Rebreather World post, for further details.

Scallastle Bay

Cannon being investigated in Scallastle Bay. Marked on old charts as an Admiralty Anchorage Area, this bay is littered with wreckage, including the cannon photographed left. Somewhere in the bay lie the remains of a wartime bomber (Lancaster or Shackleton) – there are still witnesses in Lochaline who remember her going down.

Link to more information: Dive sites in Scallastle Bay

SS Buitenzorg

Multibeam image of the Buitenzorg The structure of the SS Buitenzorg remains largely intact, lying upright on the seabed. The hull remains semi intact, with substantial raised forecastle and poop structures, four or five holds with associated winches, and intact masts, cranes or davits. The midships bridge and engine superstructure remain semi intact.

Lying between 80 and 90m in depth, the Buitenzorg has been dived a number of times by technical divers.

HMS Dartmouth

Photograph of one of the large anchors on the Dartmouth site, with a diver in the background. A Fifth Rate Royal Naval frigate lost in 1690 and designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. This wreck can only be dived under licence from Historic Scotland. The Lochaline Dive Centre currently runs a visitor scheme enabling sport divers to dive on the wreck.

Link to more information: How to visit this site

The Ballista

Lost in 1975, while salvaging coal from another ship lost nearby, her funnel is visible at low water making her easy to locate. A good shallow dive or wreck dive for novices, lying in a reasonably sheltered position.

The Thesis

A dive on the SS Thesis

Multibeam sonar image of the Thesis. Wreck of a Belfast steamer (151 net tonnes) lost in 1889. Lies at right angles to the shore, with her bow in 12 metres and her stern in 30-35 metres. Structurally intact and encrusted with marine life. Fantastic photographic dive.



Link to more information: The Thesis virtual tour

The Duart Point site

Side scan of the Duart Point site This wreck of a small warship lost in 1653 lies against the rocks beneath Duart Castle and has recently been investigated by professional underwater archaeologists. After excavation the remainder of the site has been protected by a layer of sandbags, restoring the natural underwater topography, but a scatter of cannon are still visible on the surface.

The site is designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 and can only be dived under licence from Historic Scotland. The Lochaline Dive Centre currently runs a visitor scheme enabling sport divers to dive on the wreck.

Link to more information: How to visit this site

Since 1999 Lochaline Dive Centre has been active in developing and using advanced marine geophysical techniques to locate and survey wreck sites. This work is aimed at benefitting the diving community, in helping you visualise and understand complex wreck sites. The work also helps us to manage the wreck sites, which are an important economic resource for the local area.

Notes and some images from the 1999 search programme are available through the link below:

Searching the Sound

Many of the dive sites listed have been illustrated with sonar images acquired by Lochaline Dive Centre. The Centre is currently working on new ways to visualise this sort of data (see ADUS link), which we hope will help you to plan and interpret your dive more effectively.
Multibeam image data generated by Aspect Surveys Ltd., Kongsberg Maritime Ltd., and Cfloor AS, for the Sound of Mull mapping consortium (Historic Scotland, Centre for Digital Imaging DJCAD University of Dundee, Morvern Maritime Centre, and Lochaline Dive Centre)