Underwater Curiosity Park

You are here

  • Posted on: 20 July 2015
  • By: patrick
Scuba Diving at Portland in Dorset
Holiday Accommodation for Scuba Divers at Portland in Dorset
Scuba Divers at Portland in Dorset

News Updates

Over three years ago Portland Port and Derek Luckhurst first met to discuss an Underwater Curiosity Park with the idea of creating a novel dive site in Portland Harbour that is resilient to poor weather conditions and, therefore, ideal for beginners and a haven for the more experienced divers in

Full Summary

Underwater Curiosity Park

Portland is recognised as one of the best diving locations in the country. With many dives located within the protection of the harbour walls including the Countess of Erne an 1880 paddle streamer, a slightly deeper bottle bank drift dive and the Himalaya once the largest three masted steamer in the world sunk by German bombs. Outside the harbour there are hundreds of shipwrecks and interesting dive sites, as well as its status as an area of nautical outstanding natural beauty being part of the Jurassic coastline. Like all open water dive sites they have one common Achilles heel in that they are susceptible to adverse weather conditions. Situated in Balaclava Bay the Underwater Curiosity Park offers a contingency dive protected from the south easterlies, southerlies and south westerlies by the harbour walls and full of underwater curiosities for all levels of diving ability in a depth of around 12m.

Over three years ago Portland Port and Derek Luckhurst first met to discuss an Underwater Curiosity Park with the idea of creating a novel dive site in Portland Harbour that is resilient to poor weather conditions and, therefore, ideal for beginners and a haven for the more experienced divers in inclement weather. Finally, last week, the plan came to fruition with the placing of several curiosities on the seabed including two six ton Admiralty anchors, four statues (including a diver, a shark and two Greek statues) and several lengths of large concrete pipe to swim through.

In addition, following a number of enquiries from readers of Scuba magazine, there are now four large yellow dive site buoys in Balaclava Bay on the edge of Portland Harbour denoting the location of the Curiosity Park. To help further, a rope connecting the curiosities now enables divers to find their way in even the most low visibility conditions.

Spider crabs and other sea creatures have started to find homes in and around the curiosities.  A particular favorite location is the armpit of the deep-sea diver statue. Only 50m away from the Underwater Curiosity Park is the Dredger wreck which is also a magnet to creatures of the deep, providing a full tank’s worth of entertainment!

Local dive master Jack Darley of the Old Hardbour Dive Centre said “Balaclava Bay will now become a ‘must tick off the list dive’ for divers and will also become a new haven for marine wildlife to grow. After only a few weeks of the statues being in place I have already noticed a massive increase in the amount of juvenile fish species taking shelter amongst the cylindrical swim throughs and a large amount of spider crabs making the sharks mouth and divers helmet their place of residence”.

With a host of other curiosities being put in place in due course, it is hoped that this free to use Curiosity Park is an attraction for scuba diving to come and safely dive, whatever the weather conditions. The all-round facilities and underwater attractions now make Castletown a first class diving venue.

CURIOSITIES

In addition to the proliferation of wrecks and natural features already inside the harbour walls, the Curiosity Park will have many items to explore all linked with rope to help in the most low visibilityy water:

  • 2 x Large admiralty anchors
  • Large concrete diver (pictured)
  • Large concrete shark (pictured)
  • 2 x Large concrete statues
  • Large diameter pipe 20 feet long

UCP FACTS

  • Located in Balaclava Bay – adjacent to ‘The Hood’ southern entrance to Portland Harbour
  • The Curiosity Park has a sandy bottom
  • Dimensions are approx. 70m x 30m   
  • Diving depth of 10m-14m.
  • Large yellow buoys denoting dive site

Diving permit from Portland Harbour Authority required – obtainable online at https://leisure.portland-port.co.uk/Application/Form3/3 or at the following outlets from £120:

  • Hotel Aqua
  • Ferrybridge Marine
  • Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy
  • Skin Deep Diving
  • Bussells Chandlery

All boats are required to pay Portland Port & Harbour dues which can be purchased online at

https://leisure.portland-port.co.uk/Application/Form4/4

or from the following outlets:

  • Hotel Aqua
  • Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy
  • Weymouth Watersports
  • Ferrybridge Marine
  • 109 Watersports
  • Bussells Chandlery

CASTLETOWN FACILITIES

Located within walking distance are the following facilities: -

  • Tank refill
  • Large slipway
  • Aqua Hotel
  • Crabbers Wharf - 9 modern holiday apartments with free to use floating pontoon
  • Shower and toilet facilities
  • Convenience store
  • Olympic sized swimming pool for beginners
  • Plenty of car parking

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information, please visit Tourist Information Centre, Crabbers' Wharf, Castletown, Portland, Dorset, DT5 1BD 01305 443333