2019 Local Diving Schedule:
Guided Shore Dives:
June 15th, 23rd
Boat dives to Isles of Shoals:
June 29th, 30th
July 6th, 7th, 20th, 21st
August 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th
Local Dive Sites:
The dive site entry at Nubble Lighthouse
The lighthouse looks even better from the water
Location: Sohier Park, Cape Neddick, York, Maine
Dive Overview: Nubble as many divers call this site is one of the most popular dive sites in New England and for good reason. As soon as you enter the water it’s easy to reach depth. You start of on a shallow ledge (5-15ft) that quickly turns into a steeper wall that bottoms out at about 40ft, all covered in kelp. You can dive the slope and wall to the left of the parking lot or dive toward the lighthouse. To get to wall at the lighthouse you have to cross a sandy slope (30ft) where you can see crabs, flounders and if you’re lucky even a ray or two. The wall along the lighthouse is beautiful and here you can go deeper if you want (60ft). Large boulders are common and everything is covered in colorful kelp, starfish and anemones are also common. Among the kelp beds are plenty of crustaceans like blue crabs and the famous Maine lobsters, you can even find sea ravens here if you are lucky. Fish life in the summer is very good and you’ll see schools of pollack, plenty of sea bass and flounders. During the winter months this spot is also home to many nudibranchs.
Entry/Exit Point: The entry can be a bit challenging. From the parking lot at Sohier Park you have to walk down the granite ledge on the left side facing the lighthouse. Getting in the water at Nubble Lighthouse is easiest during high tide (less rocks to walk over). If it’s you’re first time diving here we recommend you get in just before high tide and get out at high tide to avoid slippery rocks. It is possible to dive and enter this site at all tides but the lower the tide is, the more rocks you’ll have to navigate, some divers prefer to crawl on their knees and even wear kneepads. Make sure to watch the weather forecast, if it’s windy and waves are big it’s too dangerous to enter this dive site.
Experience: All levels, average depth is 40ft although it’s easy to get deeper if you want. Very little current but surge can be an issue when it’s windy and there’s some swell. It’s often used a a training dive for open water students. You will need some basic navigation skills.
Restrictions: No diving on Sundays from April 1 to October 31st or on any holidays during those dates.
Parking: The parking lot is at Sohier Park, which is also the entry for this dive site. You enter the paved parking lot in a counter clock wise way. During the summer months finding a parking spot can be hard but most people only stay here for a little while so it doesn’t take long for a spot to open up.
Directions: Nubble Lighthouse is one of America’s most photographed lighthouses and as such is easy to find. From York, Maine you’ll see sings leading you to this iconic site. For GPS use Sohier Park rd as the address, this is the name of the paved parking lot road.
Beautiful underwater scenery at Nubble Lighthouse
Nubble is a good place to see big lobsters
Location: Peirce Island Rd, Portsmouth, NH 03801. The dive site at Peirce Island is located right at the popular dog park on the Piscataqua River, across the Naval Ship Yard.
Dive Overview: Peirce Island is one of Portsnouth’s and perhaps New Hampshire’s most popular dive site. It’s easy access and often spectacular marine life attracts divers from all over New England. Crustaceans, fish and invertabrates are all common on this dive. Getting in is easy and unlike most other shore dives, the slope descends quite quickly so you’ll be at 30ft+ in no time. There’s also a nice wall covered in anemones that starts at about 30ft and goes down to 80ft. To find the wall just go to the right of the entry point at the small beach. The slope before the wall has a lot of crustaceans and fish life like lobsters, blue crabs, rock gunnel and sculpin. What makes this dive famous is the presence of hundreds of red gilled nudibranchs during the winter months. When the water gets cold the slope get covered in hydroids, this is what these kinds of nudibranchs feed on so during winter they are everywhere, feeding, mating and laying eggs, a true spectacle. During summer there might not be any nudibranchs at all but there’s more fish life and crustaceans this makes this site good year round.
Be aware of the depth and strong currents here, it is an amazing dive but currents can be very strong. Slack tide here is 1 hour and 15 minutes after high tide and you will have 45 minutes of almost no current.
Entry/Exit Point: Best place to park is right before the dog park, walk accros the street towards the river and you’ll see a small beach right across the Naval Ship Yard. Make sure you can navigate back to the small beach as it’s the easiest way to get back out.
Experience: This dive is for experienced diver only, the main difficulty here is the current. The Piscataqua River has one of the strongest currents in the world and if you don’t plan this dive right you will get caught in these currents. The best time to dive it is 1 hour 15 minutes after high tide. You will have about 45 minutes before the tide starts rushing out and currents pick up again.
Restrictions: None that we are aware off. Do be aware if you’re coming up away from the shore as large ships pass by here, dive flag is mandatory. (Update, we recently heard Peirce Island will be off limits due to works on the water plant until 2019)
Parking: There’s free parking on the parking lot before the dog park all year round. Can get busy on weekends and holidays.
Directions: Once in Portsmouth drive towards Prescott Park, when passing Prescott Park on your left the next street is Peirce Island Road which will bring you over a small bridge. You will then pass a swimming pool on your left and soon see the parking lot and dog park on your right.
Peirce Island is well known for it's abundance of nudibranchs during spring
Location: Kittery Point, ME 03905. Just off Route 103 (Pepperrell Road).
Dive Overview: Lots of rockweed in the shallows with common periwinkles everywhere. The kelp covered slope drops of quickly to about 15ft where it turns into hard pan and gently keeps sloping down. Here you can find some old artifacts if you’re lucky and have trained eyes. Maximum depth is around 20ft. Crabs and other crustaceans love this place and you can see them in the kelp and all over the hard pan. Look among the kelp in the shallows to find small fish and invertebrates. Strong currents are likely when diving outside the cove but not big concern if you stay close to the entry point.
The Fort McClary State Historic Site is a former defensive fortification of the United States military. Built at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, it was used primarily throughout the 19th century to protect approaches to the harbor of Portsmouth and its U.S. naval shipyard. The Fort itself is worth a visit and there’s also some great trails around to go for a walk after your dive and take in this beautiful spot.
Entry/Exit Point: Walk in from the beach on the left side of the Fort. It’s a rocky entry so you’ll have to be a bit careful with your steps, easiest access is at high tide. During off season you’ll have to park outside the gates and will have to do the short walk with all your dive gear from there.
Experience: All diver levels but experience in currents is needed, especially if you plan to dive outside the cove, the Piscataqua River can have some very strong currents.
Restrictions: No restrictions we are aware off but there is a US$2 donation fee.
Parking: Ample parking close to the Fort in the summer time and just outside the Fort gates in the winter.
Directions: From Kittery, follow Route 103 (Pepperrell Road) untill you see Fort McClary on your right, right after passing Crockett Neck Road on your left. From York follow Route 103 (Pepperrell Road) untill you see Fort McCalry on your left, right after passing Coleman Ave on your right.
An aerial overview of Fort McClary
Plenty of crustaceans at this dive site
Periwinkles are a common occurance in the tidal zone at Fort McClary
In the off season you can park outside the gates, during the summer season you can park inside nex to the Fort
An aerial overview of Fort Stark and the parking lot
The entrance at Fort Stark is full of beautiful rock weed
Location: 211 Wild Rose Ln, New Castle, NH 03854. Fort Stark State Historic Site is located on a peninsula historically called Jerry’s Point on the southeast corner of New Castle Island. It overlooks the Piscataqua River, Little Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.
Dive Overview: Fort Stark is a great intro dive to New England, as soon as you enter the rocks are covered with rockweed, look in between the weed and you’ll find hundreds off common periwinkles, blue crabs and flounders. Continue diving and you’ll see a small wall and boulders covered with kelp. Among the kelp are lobsters and hermit crabs and if you’re lucky you can find lumpfish here especially during spring. You can also see some nudibranchs here during the winter months. If you keep diving a bit deeper (+15ft) then you’ll see plenty of eelgrass full of live as well. Fort Stark is a very shallow dives, best depth is 15 to 25ft. It can be dived during all tides but is best at high tide as it gets almost too shallow during low tides.
Entry/Exit Point: Most divers enter at the beach to the right of the Fort, it’s a gently slope with a few boulders. Easy entry at high tide, low tide has quite a few rocks to walk around and it can be a bit slippery with all the rock weed. You can also enter the beach to the right of the Fort, the dive is not as nice as the left side but still fun. The entry on the right side is very easy as it’s a sandy slope but it gets too shallow at low tide.
Experience: This is a great dive for new divers, little current and shallow depth.
Restrictions: None that we are aware off.
Parking: There’s free parking on the grass/gravel parking lot all year round.
Directions: Fort Stark is the closest dive site to our shop. From Sagamore Ave turn into Wentworth Rd (left if you’re coming from the shop). Just keep going straight and take a right into Wild Rose Ln, Fort Stark is right at the end of the road.
A lumfish in the shallows of Fort Stark
A hermit crab pulling another hermit crab at Fort Stark
The rocky entrance to the Harts Cove dive site
A diver finds an old artifact, this is what makes this dive site so special
Location: End of Sulivan Ln, New Castle, NH 03854. This site is next to Fort Constitution and the Coast Guard Station in New Castle, NH.
Dive Overview: Harts Cove is a mix a hardpan, muck and some ledges / boulders with kelp. It’s mostly a slope and the highlights of this dive site are all the old artifacts you can find here. Spoons, pipes, cups, ceramics, bottles and much more all seem to drift into this dive site. You need a pair of good eyes and some knowledge of what to look for but there are plenty of treasures to be found here, just make sure you leave some for other divers to admire. There’s also plenty of crustaceans like lobsters and crabs.
Entry/Exit Point: To the left of the parking lot you walk down the rocks and there’s a narrow entry, it’s best to swim out a bit further before descending.
Experience: Advanced, usually has strong currents except during slack tides. Make sure you’re comfortable with currents before diving here.
Parking: All year round free parking in the paved parking lot.
Directions: From Portsmouth go to Sagamore Ave and turn into Wentworth Rd heading into New Castle. From Wentworth road you will see the parking lot on Sulivan Ln, the dive site is the little harbor to the left.
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A lobster guards a trap, crustaceans like this American lobster are very common here
Parking is pretty easy at Harts Cove
Location: Route 1A in Rye, NH. Half mile north of Wallis Sands State Park
Dive Overview: This dive is perhaps New Hampshire's best shore dive and well worth the drive and search. The rocks that make up the beach extend underwater and the bottom is full of cracks, crevices and some swim throughs. This topography extends till about 75 yards offshore where it ends in a gravel and sandy bottom. This is not a deep dive site with max depths of 25ft but the better diving will be in about 15ft of water, close to the rocks.
Entry/Exit Point: Enter the rocky beach at the right side of the pullover, then when you see the Seal Rocks it's best to enter the water on the left side since the large rocks on the right can make entry and exit difficult. Watch out for uneven rocks.
Experience: Beginner, do be carefull when there's waves as it can get a lot of surge and make diving and entry/exit difficult. Best to dive it in calm conditions.
Parking: All year round free parking in the pullover.
Directions: This is a tricky dive site to find since there's no real marking. The easiest way to get there is if you're travelling north on route 1A and pass Wallis Sands State Park (on your right) drive another 0.5 mile and park in the pullover. On the beach there should be a large piece of bedrock, if you see this you're in the right spot.
View from the right side of the cove during a beautiful winter sunrise
Aerial view of the cove at low tide
Location: Route 1A in Rye, NH. Next to Seacoast Science Center
Dive Overview: Ever wanted to dive in a coastal forest? If so then this is the dive for you. While this is no real forest anymore there's remnants of about 25 tree stumps to be found here, a truly unique dive. Due to a tectonic shift about 3500 years ago the land this forest was on dipped resulting the forest to be swallowed by the Atlantic. The small cove here offered a degree of protection and preserved the tree stumps that can still be found today. Most of the stumps lie in the right side of the cove. They are only a few inches tall but are several feet wide, like the stump of any large cut tree. Depth here is very shallow and hence this site is best dived on a high tide, even then it's only about 10-15ft deep. During low tide you can pretty much walk over the stumps. With some good weather and sun this really makes for a magical dive showing a piece of natural history. If you're lucky there can be kelp growth and various marine life that shows up at high tide.
Entry/Exit Point: Easy entry from the pullout on the side of the road, you do have to walk over a steep dune but after that entry is easy.
Experience: Beginner, can be rough when wind is blowing onshore.
Parking: All year round free parking in the pullover
Directions: This is a tricky dive site to find since there's no real marking. The easiest way to get there is if you're travelling South on route 1A and pass Odiorne State Park (on your left). Right after this state park you can either park in the first or second pullover, walk over the dune and you will see the cove that is known as Sunken Forest.
The remains of a tree trunk underwater
It's easy to spot the tree trunks at low tide
Rye Harbor State Park
A winter sunrise at the right end of the beach, this is the entry point
Watch out for snowy owls in the winter, they frequent this state park
Location: Route 1A in Rye, NH
Dive Overview: Rye Harbor is an easy to find spot and great place to hang out and enjoy the beauty of New Hampshire's coastline. The dive itself is just to the left of the state park and on the opposite side of the harbor. You enter the dive site on the far right side of the beach, from there you can either dive towards the middle of the cove or stick to the right side, either way it's a fun dive. The bottom is a mix of small and medium boulders and gently slopes down to no more then 20ft. This is an easy relaxing dive when conditions are good, meaning no waves are around. Watch out for snowy owls in the winter, in both 2015 and 2016 there were many sighitngs of this amazing raptor here.
Entry/Exit Point: You enter the water on the far right side of the beach, it's a rocky entry over many uneven rock so be careful of your footing.
Experience: Beginner, can be rough when wind is blowing onshore.
Parking: All year round free parking in the State Park parking lot.
Directions: The Rye Harbor State Park is located on Route 1A in Rye, NH. It's clearly marked and right next to Rye Harbor. The beach and entry is just to the left of the State Park and on the oppisite side of the harbor.
Bass Beach, North Hampton
Location: Route 1A on the Rye / North Hampton border, NH
Dive Overview: This dive site is also a popular surfing spot when the waves are big, only dive here when there are no waves. The big cove here starts with medium sized rocks that are covered in rockweed, after about 100 yards or so the rocks become a bit larger and the rockweed thins out changing to long kelp. The bottom turns into a boulder field and remains a gentle slope although there's some ledges to be found here. An interesting site and worth exploring. Most divers stick to the left side of the cove but avoid the shallow shoal (in front of the only house on the beach), this shallow shoal is where the waves break.
Entry/Exit Point: Entry is on the left side of the cove, right next to the house. The rest of the cove is backed by a boulder wall and we don't recommend attempting to climb over this with dive gear on. The beach is sand and gravel so easy to walk on but this changes some uneven rocks in the water so watch your steps.
Experience: Beginner, can be rough when wind is blowing onshore.
Parking: All year round parking on the side of the road (before the no parking sign). As this is a popular surfing spot parking can get busy in summer or when there's waves.
Directions: Bass Beach is located on Route 1A right on the Rye / North Hampton border. Where the boulder seawall begins is the entry of the cove and dive site.
Duck Island, Isles of Shoals
Overview of Duck Island with Mingo Rock in the bottom right
Playful grey seals at Duck Island
Location: Isles of Shoals, ME and NH
Dive Overview: The Isles of Shoals are home to some of the best diving in New England. There are a lot of dive sites here and many more to find and explore. Duck Island is perhaps one of the most fund dives here as it is home to a colony of seals year round. As with all the the dive sites at the Isles of Shoals you need a boat to get there and dive off. The shallow bottom surrounding the island rarely drops bellow 15ft, on the far side of the island facing the open Atlantic is Mingo Rock, here it drops of quickly to 60ft+. The best place to encounter harbor and grey seals is in the shallow protected areas, just watch were they are swimming and relaxing on the rocks. If you enter in those areas chances are they will come and check you out. The bottom here is beautiful and covered in kelp with plenty of fish life around. Big lobsters can also be found here.
Entry/Exit Point: Boat entry anywhere around the Island.
Experience: Beginner to advanced depending on depth. Mingo rock should only be dived by advanced divers as it drops of quickly and can have heavy surge.