Top 10 Snorkelling Sites in South-West UK
You don’t need to travel halfway across the world to find stunning sea creatures and scenic underwater worlds. Or you don’t have to go diving to discover some of the amazing things that the UK's South-West coast has to offer. The UK is home to much wonderful marine life, stunning reefs and hidden treasures, waiting to be discovered by an array of ocean lovers.
There are many different spots hidden around the UK’s South-West coast that are perfect for snorkelling. In some places you may find big creatures, including basking sharks and seals, others you may spot a seahorse or pipefish, others are surrounded by stunning cold-water corals and other sea plants. There’s a lot to explore here in the UK's South-West coast.
Let’s discover some of the top snorkelling sites hidden within the coastline of the South-West UK.
Kimmeridge Bay is a snorkelling site located on the Jurassic Coast. It’s well-known for its underwater beauty. Kimmeridge is also a dive site but it’s quite a shallow site which makes it perfect for snorkelling. Here you’ll be able to find an array of sea creatures, sea plants and interesting rockpool creatures. In shallow water, large wrasse and shoals of small fish can be seen against a colourful backdrop of Rainbow Wrack & coralline seaweeds.
At Kimmeridge, there is also a snorkel trail which you can follow, marked up by buoys to make a path. It’s a highly recommended snorkel site for beginners as it’s sheltered and shallow, plus there’s so much to explore!
There isn’t a huge lot of beach and it is very pebbly (lots of large rocks everywhere), but the underwater world that lies next to Kimmeridge sure makes up for it!
There are a few sites around Portland, located near Weymouth, that hold stunning snorkelling spots. Some of the most popular are Church Ope Cove, Portland Marina and Chesil Cove.
Chesil Cove: Chesil Cove is well-known as a great diving spot, but there is a lot you can discover here while snorkelling too. You’ll need to catch it when conditions are calm with good visibility as Chesil Cove gets deep quite quickly and there are big swells on windy days. At Chesil Cove, you may find Wrasse, Crabs, Lobster, Dogfish, Cuttlefish and so much more!
When this visibility is right, you may be able to spot a shipwreck, lying six metres down at Chesil cove, which is positioned opposite the ramp as you come out from the car park. The wreck is especially great for those who love to freedive, as around this wreck you may be able to see creatures such as crabs and nudibranch.
Portland Marina: Portland Marina is a slightly shallower site. Along the wall of the marina, you may be able to find creatures such as tompot blennies, crabs and nudibranch.
Lundy Island is known as one of the best snorkelling spots here in the UK. Many snorkellers call this their favourite UK snorkelling experience. Why? Because Lundy Island is home to Grey Seals!
I have recently been to the Lundy Islands and I can safely say that it’s been my most memorable ocean experience here in the UK. There was this one seal that was very interested in our group, he was very intrigued and playful. It’s something that I highly recommend all snorkelers who live in the UK should experience.
Lundy Island is accessible only by boat and you’ll need to book your trip in advance with a dive centre or local boat operator. These trips are very popular, especially in peak season, so you’ll need to book your tickets well in advance. On your journey, you may even find a pod of Dolphins or Sunfish!
Studland is located at the end of the Jurassic coast, near Bournemouth. In Studland, you can spot marine life, including crabs, varieties of seaweed and limpets. It’s also a wonderful nursery ground for fish such as wrasse.
Seahorses are found in Studland too, but a special licence is needed from the Marine Management Organisation if you want to carry out any wildlife activities.
Studland Bay is easily accessible with a National Trust car park and isn’t a long walk to the beach, accessed by some wooden steps.
Lulworth Cove and Man O’War
Lulworth Cove and Man O’War are both pebbly beaches that are located next to each other, although a steep uphill then downhill cliff walk stands between them. There are two different car parks for both beaches, so if you’re on holiday in the area, then we highly recommend visiting both beaches during your stay if you want to do lots of snorkelling. You can also visit another famous beach in the area, which is Durdle Door! Experienced swimmers have often swam from Man O’ War beach to Durdle Door when the conditions allow.
Lulworth Cove: Lulworth Cove is one of the best-known beaches in the UK due to its beauty. This sheltered Cove is perfect for snorkelling due to the circular shape in which the cove is shaped. Underwater you’ll find a seaweed forest, many sea plants and cool creatures.
Swanage, Old and New Pier
Swanage is another great snorkelling spot that is located along the Jurassic Coast, near Studland beach. Swanage is quite shallow in some areas. It’s a popular site for discovering creatures hidden in and around the pier. Under the pier is all about the little stuff. Here you can find nudibranchs, pipefish, small flatfish, cuttlefish crabs, lobsters and more!
Basking Sharks Penzance, Cornwall
Although it’s not as common to find a Basking Shark on a snorkelling trip in the UK, they have been seen around May - October time off the Cornish Coast! You can take a boat from Penzance, which will take you out to a dive location where Basking Sharks are most likely spotted.
To be in with the chance of snorkelling with Basking Sharks, you’ll need the right conditions to find them. Ideally, it should be sunny with calm winds as the sun brings the plankton to the surface which attracts the sharks. This allows you to spot the dorsal fin on or near the surface.
Blue Sharks - Cornwall
Another must-do snorkel experience to tick off your bucket list here in the UK is snorkelling with Blue Sharks off the Cornish coast! The South West of Cornwall is hugely attractive to Blue Sharks at certain times of the year. Blue Sharks are a strikingly stunning and sleek shark that is a real favourite with divers and snorkelers.
Blue Sharks are unusually found along the Devon and Cornish coast in the summer months as this is within their migratory route. In the Atlantic, they appear to follow a clockwise route, following the Gulf Stream to the UK from the Caribbean and returning there following the Atlantic North Equatorial Current.
We’re Here to Help
Snorkelling in the South-West UK is such a treat. There’s so much to discover and explore, and it’s all here waiting to be discovered right on our doorstep!
If you have any questions about snorkelling gear, tips and advice, please email us at email@example.com where we have a team of scuba diving professionals. We’re here to assist you in making the right decision on snorkelling equipment options. Or if you live locally or in the surrounding areas of London, pop in and come visit us in-store where you can try on a wide range of snorkelling accessories for yourself and get a feel of which styles you like best.