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Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

ISSUE 18 ARCHIVE - PRACTICAL GUIDE TO NORTHERN IRELAND

Juliet Savigear

Plenty of wrecks and marine life

as diverse as you could wish for in our UK waters, Northern Ireland may not be on your radar, but can offer some top class diving for all levels. There are four key diving areas in Northern Ireland and some excellent dive centres. Both Belfast and Stangford Loughs provide sheltered diving conditions, but don’t think that means the currents won’t be strong. The Atlantic coastline has some spectacular scenic diving, often with great visibility. There is also a wide choice of wreck and scenic diving off the coast of Belfast and Larne.

Food and booze:

You’ll find the usual eating options wherever you might be based whilst staying in Northern Ireland. Here are a few that come recommended:

Katch 27 – an excellent cafe by day (close to Newtownards) but come Friday and Saturday nights the tables are set for a cosy restaurant with a menu changing regularly according to the fisherman’s catch where Strangford mussels, Portavogie prawn and local lobster are regular highlights.

Morton’s Fish & Chip Shop

(Ballycastle) is highly recommended.

Oregano (Ballyclare) is a good choice if you really like your food. They pride their food as having a modern twist on local flavours.

On the shores of Strangford Lough are a couple of public house gems, The Saltwater Brig (Kircubbin) and Balloo House (Killinchy).

The Anchor Bar complex in Portstewart is known throughout Ireland for its convivial atmosphere.

A good night’s kip:

Newtownards

Rockhaven B&B – a family-run B&B in Newtownards Tel: (028) 9182 3987

Islandmagee

St Ronans B&B, Islandmagee

Tel: 028 9338 2055

If you are diving with Aquaholics, they have self-catering accommodation that sleeps up to 13 people.

Out and about:

The Titanic Belfast – recently opened and already a top tourist destination. Titanic Belfast®, in its spectacular building, takes the visitor through the Titanic story

with a permanent exhibition that uses special effects, reconstructions and interactive features detailing her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, the construction and launch, to her infamous maiden voyage and catastrophic demise. The journey goes beyond the aftermath of the sinking, to the wreck’s discovery and continues into the live undersea exploration of the present day. Now I’m sure that’s worth a break from water.

If you’ve never travelled to Northern Ireland, or if you’ve simply never been when over there, then you must visit the world famous Giant's Causeway. With around 40,000 basalt columns, this geological site really does make for a spectacular coastline.

And don’t forget you can visit the Bushmills Distillery – guess I don’t need to say that much here, except that they do have an excellent restaurant here too.

Local diving contacts:

DV Diving – A PADI Five Star IDC Dive Centre, TDI and BSAC Facility, RYA Power Boat Training Centre and HSE recognised commercial scuba and First Aid assessment centre. A shop with servicing and testing available.

138 Mount Stewart Road, Newtownards, County Down BT22 2ES

Tel: 028 9186 1686 or 028 9146 4671

North Irish Diver - PADI approved dive centre situated on the Antrim Coast, 30 minutes from Belfast. 10 metre Redbay Stormforce RIB c/w 2x200HP Merc Verado’s for local diving and excursions to Rathlin and Sanda as well as golf and whisky tours to Scotland and the Isle of Man.

161B Low Road, Islandmagee, Larne, Co. Antrim, BT40 3RF

Tel: 02893382246

Aquaholics – a PADI Five Star Dive Centre, with 2 large dive RIBS licensed for 12 divers and 2 crew, dive shop and self-catering accommodation.

14 Portmore Road, Portstewart, BT55 7BE Tel: 028 70832584

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