Dive Sites Around Aberdeen and Fraserburgh
Overview of diving in Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire is located in the north east of Scotland and has a coastline that stretches from Montrose in the south round to the village of Cullen on the north coast. It’s coastline is a mix of beautiful sandy beaches, sheltered bays and rocky cliffs. The rocky areas of the coastline offer some nice diving and snorkelling with dive sites full of kelp, crabs, lobsters and fish and even the occasional seal or dolphin.
Since moving to Aberdeen in 2018, we have been exploring the coastline by freediving and snorkelling trying to find some good dive sites. There seems to be very little information on dive sites in the north east of Scotland on the internet so in this article we list the places we have tried (good and not so good) to help anyone looking to dive, freedive or snorkel in the north east of Scotland. From our experience so far we have found the best visibility to be up on the north coast. The dive sites close to Aberdeen need to have a few days of calm weather for the visibility to settle.
As we explore more dive sites, we will continue to update this article so be sure to check back on here from time to time.
When to dive in Aberdeenshire
Scotland’s diving season is centred around the European summer months when air temperatures are warmest. Sea temperatures lag a few months behind, the coldest months being January to April with temperatures dropping to around 6°C. It is possible to dive all year round, and many dive clubs continue to operate throughout the winter.
The North Sea is frequented by storms during the winter months, which can reduce visibility and also make shore and boat diving difficult.
Water Temperature 6° to 16°C
Visibility 1m to 15m
Bow Fiddle Rock (Portknockie)
Dive Site Type Reef
Marine Life Crabs, kelp, small fish
An impressive shallow dive site located at the coastal village of Portknockie. The main attraction is the large natural arch which is possible to swim through. The depth in the channel through the arch is around 4m or so depending on the tide, so it is suitable for snorkelling too. Kelp, fish and crabs can be seen. On the day we snorkelled here the visibility was around 5m.
Dive Site Type Reef / sandy bay
Marine Life Kelp, small fish, jellyfish,
Cove Bay is around a 10 minute drive south of Aberdeen. On the day we tried to snorkel here the visibility was pretty poor at barely a meter. However the dive site looks like it could be good on a day with the right conditions. We tried on the north side of the bay, however the south side is supposedly a good dive and has a wreck located just outside of the bay.
Dive Site Type Reef / sandy bay
Marine Life Crabs, kelp, small fish, jellyfish, lobsters, possible seal sightings
Millshore dive site is a sheltered bay close to the village of Pennan on the north coast. In your sat nav head for the Millshore Pottery which takes you the beach. It is possible to camp on the grass next to the beach for a small fee to the landowner.
We have mainly snorkelled along the western side of the bay, which consists of large rocks covered in kelp. Small fish, crabs, lobsters and jellyfish are common sightings. Often fisherman place lobster pots close to the rocks, which are worth checking. The depth can reach 10m or more at the outer ends of the rocks. At the deep end there are some large overhanging rocks close to the seabed which it is possible to swim under. On both occasions we have snorkelled at Millshore the visibility has been around 5 to 10m.
The middle of the bay consists mainly of a sand bottom and we haven’t explored it much. Millshore is a suitable dive site for both snorkelling and scuba diving.
Depth Can reach up to 14m+ at high tide
Dive Site Type Reef / sandy bay
Marine Life Kelp, small fish, jellyfish
Portlethen Village is currently our favorite dive site close to Aberdeen. It is a short 15 minute drive south along the A90. The visibility can be hit and miss, and seems to be best after a few days of calm weather. On a good day it can reach up to 8m or 9m visibility. Entry to the bay is by the small beach on the right with the boats in the picture below. There is no car access down to the beach and it is around a 200m walk from the top of the road. There is a small carpark at the top of the village to park.
Swimming out from the small inlet, the bay opens up and the seabed is a mix or small boulders, sand and kelp. The depth is approximately 6m at low tide, however beyond the rocks in the middle of the bay it drops down to around 10m. The rocks have some nice underwater gullies to swim through surrounded by kelp on either side.
Lion’s Mane jellyfish and moon jellyfish are common in the bay, while crabs and lobsters can be found hiding the cracks. Some smalls of school fish can also be seen when the visibility is good
Common seals like to rest on the Craigmaroinn rocks (the furthest ones from the entry point). They will spot you long before you spot them and will hop in the water to check out divers and snorkelers. Often they like to follow on the surface and then dive down if you dive down to the bottom. They are quite shy but will swim up to you underwater if you remain calm.
Dive Site Type Reef / Wall
Marine Life Kelp, wrasse, lobster, crabs, jellyfish, nudibranchs, scorpionfish, cod, ling, saithe, urchins, sponges, seagrass
Rosehearty dive site is regarded as one of the best along the Aberdeenshire coast. A small carpark with picnic benches makes it easy to kit up and a nice place to spend a surface interval on a sunny day. Most divers walk along to the end of the gully and do a giant stride to enter the water. You can also exit at the end of the gully. Beware that the uneven boulders and rocks can make it tricky to walk so take care when wearing scuba gear.
The visibility at Rosehearty dive site is normally among the best of the Aberdeenshire dive sites and over 15m can be enjoyed on a good day. Upon entry the depth drops away quickly to around 10m and it is possible to go to over 20m in some places. A range of pinnacles covered in kelp and gullies are there to be explored. There is lots of marine life to be seen including lobster, crabs, wrasse, cod and nudibranchs. A torch is recommended for checking all the nooks and crannies.