While most divers typically dream of heading to the tropics for their dive vacation, there are some surreal underwater landscapes in the world’s coldest climes that draw hundreds of divers every year. Whether you want to go for the thrill of plunging into one of the world’s coldest places to dive, or you’re curious about what lies beneath the frigid waves, here are three places that perfectly fit the bill.
The waters in Antarctica are so cold that SCUBA divers are required to be Advanced Open Water certified and have completed a minimum of 20 dives while wearing a drysuit. Divers must also be of sound mental and physical health and demonstrate adequate experience before the boat departs to the dive site. Diving in the Arctic waters isn’t for the faint of heart or those who are light in the pocketbook — week-long dives in Antarctica can run thousands of dollars.
Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, Scotland
PADI’s diving center in Scapa Flow is the coldest of all United Kingdom waters. While the water is freezing, there are some interesting sites to see. Divers can explore sunken ships in Scapa Flow like the SMS V83, the U-boat SM UB-116, the Churchill blockships, and the famous trawler James Barrie. An entire German fleet of seven sunken ships is also found in Scapa Flow’s waters. Although its waters are cold, Scapa Flow is consistently ranked in dive magazines as one of the top dive sites for recreational SCUBA divers. Divers flock to these ships with their underwater cameras year round. Just try to schedule your trip in the summer months unless you are brave enough to take on the frigid waters. It is worth noting that Scapa Flow divers need to acquire a permit through the Island Harbour Authorities before hitting the water.
Lake Labynkyr, Western Siberia
Russian scientists have set the world record for cold water diving in Lake Labynkyr in Western Siberia. This lake is located in one of the most frigid places on planet Earth, making it one of the coldest places to dive. The record-setting Russian divers all had a minimum of 20 years of diving experience, yet their dive lasted a mere 23 minutes. Drysuits, thermals, and being in great physical shape are all necessary components of diving in this frigid destination.