Wave Shape
Wave Shape

Coastal dives

Wave Shape
Boat dives are very popular because of the fun getting to the sites. the North Wales coast offers many accessible wrecks, many not yet identified.

Flintshire Sub-Aqua has a data base of over 70 wrecks it uses. There are many more. The list below shows some of the most popular:


A steamship of 4,730 tons that ran ashore then sank in Holyhead harbour.


A lightship of 224 tons sank off Rhyl (near the wind farm) after a collision in 1911.


A cargo ship of 613 tonnes sank in 1940 off Rhyl after hitting a mine.

Cambank - Anglesey

The SS Cambank was a 3,112grt, British Merchant ship built in South Shields in 1899 as the Raithmoor for the North Moor Steamship Ltd. In 1913 she was renamed the SS Cambank for the Merrivale Shipping Company. On the 20th February 1915 whilst on route from Huelva to Garston with a cargo of iron ore she was torpedoed without warning and sunk by a German Boat, U-30 and sunk when 10 miles East of Point Lynas, Anglesey.

City of Brussels – Liverpool Bay

The City of Brussels was a British passenger liner that in her first year of service set the record for the fastest Atlantic eastbound voyage from New York to Queenstown in 7 days, 20 hours and 33 minutes, completing the voyage at an average speed of 14.74 knots. Built by Tod and Macgregor of Glasgow for the Inman Line until 1883 when she sank with the loss of ten people after a collision while entering the Mersey. The City of Brussels was designed as the partner for the City of Paris, and carried 200 first class and 600 steerage passengers. Three years after she was commissioned, City of Brussels returned to the ship yard for an extra deck and other modifications and emerged with a revised tonnage of 3750. In 1876, she was re-engineered with compounds that reduced her coal consumption from 110 tons per day to 65 tons. At this time she received a second funnel. On January 7, 1883 the City of Brussels found herself in heavy fog entering the Mersey after dropping off passengers at Queenstown on her return from New York. Her captain ordered the ship to stop until the weather cleared. The Kirby Hall, a new cargo ship being delivered with a minimum crew, proceeded without heeding the danger and struck City of Brussels almost cutting her in two. The City of Brussels sank within 20 minutes with a loss of ten. In 1984, the wreck of the City of Brussels was found by Wirral Sub-Aqua Club at 24 metres of water with the top of the wreck at about 17 metres, 19 nautical miles from New Brighton.

Dakota - Anglesey

The Dakota was launched in 1874 by Palmers and Company. Owned by Liverpool and Great Western Steam Navigation Company she had a speed of 14 knots and was of an experimental design engineered to securing the ‘Blue Riband’ of the Atlantic. She could carry 1800 tons of general cargo, 218 passengers and had 109 crew. The Dakota was en route from Liverpool to Boston USA. On the evening of the 9th May 1877 she left Liverpool under the command of Capt. Price. At 9.30pm, when abreast of Point Lynas, the captain gave the order to ‘port the helm’. This order was misinterpreted and the ship was steered to starboard. The error was noticed too late and in spite of the engines being reversed the ship struck the mainland inside of East Mouse Island. All on board got off safely but the ship broke in two and became a total wreck. The wreck lies in 18 metres, rising 3 metres off the sea bed. Currents in excess of 5 knots can be experienced over the site. There are two large boilers and much broken crockery which can be found beneath the large prop-shaft.


A steam ferry of 599 tons sank off Rhyl after a collision in 1888.

Fangs - Anglesey

The ‘Fangs’ are a pair of drying rocks which lie about 100 metres south of the ‘Tide-Rip Rock’. Totally covered at high-water, as the tide falls they are often marked by white water and breaking waves. Because of the horrendous currents, the ‘Fangs’ can only be dived at slack-water on a neap-tide. Flintshire Sub-Aqua Club reaches the ‘Fangs’ by launching from Trearddur Bay.


A steam cargo ship of 279 tons that ran aground in 1904 just off Trwyn Porth Dinllaen.

Hermine - Anglesey

This is the nearest major wreck to Trearddur Bay, Anglesey. The Hermine was an iron barque which ran ashore in thick fog between Porth-y-Garan and Raven’s Point on 16 June 1890. All aboard were rescued by a breeches-buoy system. Lying against the cliffs, a mile south of Trearddur Bay slipway, this 538-ton wreck is a popular dive site, suitable for novice and experienced divers alike. The wreck is spread over a large area and consists of iron plates, pipes, ribs, tubular iron-masts, lengths of chain and halliard winches. Now well smashed up, the remains lie close to the shore in 10-16 metres of water. There are piles of wooden planks at the deepest part of the wreck, leading to speculation that they could be from an earlier wreck lying underneath the Hermine, although it could simply be decking from the Hermine. Immediately to the west of the wreck, a boulder has fallen between the cliffs and an off-lying reef, creating a 20 metre long tunnel which leads to the wreck. It is well worth taking a torch to shine on the rocky walls and illuminate the anemones. As you emerge onto the wreck, there are several overhangs, crevices, gullies and vertical cliffs where a torch is essential to pick out detail. Wrecks always attract marine life, so on a single dive here expect to see octopus, conger, wrasse, leopard-spotted gobies and more besides. Many parts of the wreck are completely covered in small mussels.


A paddle steamer intended to be used as a confederate gun runner. It sank in 1865 in Liverpool Bay.


A wooden hulled steamship of 88 tons sank in 1894 off the Great Orme.

Maen Piscar - Anglesey

Maen Piscar is another isolated reef lying about three-quarters of a mile offshore and one and a half miles from Trearddur Bay. This rock dries at low water on spring-tides to a maximum height of 1.7 metres and can be easily seen from the shore at this time. At low-water on a neap-tide, the rock is awash but can be located by the disturbance of the sea over washing over the reef. The surrounding sea bed drops to around 25 metres. Tidal streams can be strong so care should be taken diving this site.


A steam cargo ship of 207 tons foundered in 1916 to the east of Puffin island.

Missouri - Anglesey

The Missouri, a 5,146 Barque rigged steamer sank in 1886 in a snowstorm near Porth Dafach and at 130 metres long is the largest vessel ever wrecked close inshore on the west coast of Anglesey. She is probably the most visited wreck along the west coast of Anglesey and is broken in two halves, best treated as two separate dive sites. She lies in about 14 metres of water and can be reached from Trearddur Bay or can be treated as a shore dive by swimming out from Porth Dafarch. Underwater visibility varies considerably at this site depending upon the prevailing wind direction and strength.

Norman Court

A famous tea clipper at one time faster than the Cutty Sark. Sank in 1883 off Cymran Bay.

Penrhos – Colwyn Bay

The Penrhos was built for the Stanley Steamship Company and was originally named after the Company as the Stanley. She was built by W.J.Yarwood at Northwich in 1904. The Stanley Steamship Company was taken over by Steam Coasters Limited, who in turn, became the Straits Steamship Company. It was this company that changed her name to the Penrhos. She had a displacement of some 187 tons; her length totalled approximately 30 metres with a beam of 7 metres and a draught of 3 metres. On 1st. January 1942, the Penrhos was on a passage from Penmaenmawr in North Wales to Liverpool with a cargo of limestone chippings. Her journey as far as Great Ormes Head had been uneventful, but somewhere after that it is believed that she hit a mine and sank, taking her crew of four with her. The wreck of this coaster lies upright sticking out of the sandy seabed at 14 metres low water. Her bows are facing to the North and stern to the South. The current has scoured deeply around the bows and stern. Amidships her gunwales are almost level with the sandy seabed. She lies reasonably intact and doesn’t appear to show any sign of the damage that would have been caused by hitting a mine. The anchor winch and the loading winch are forward of the forecastle one on each side. The forecastle has taken a bit of a battering. She has a single hold, which is now full of sand carried there by the tides. Her rear deck house is still in place and you can swim through it quite easily. Below you can be seen the single boiler. On her rear deck house roof there appears to be part of a gun mounting. Over the stern, her propeller and rudder are all but buried in the sand. She now lies close to the wind farm off Colwyn Bay. Boats can be launched from the public slipway at Conway.


A cargo ship of 267 tons sank close to the Dublin in 1948 after a collision.

Porth Ysgaden

One of the most popular diving areas along this stretch of coast, it is easily recognised from a distance by a derelict house and chimney on the headland. Porth Ysgaden provides a shallow, sheltered beach suitable for novices, but divers must be aware that the bay is popular with other water users and should a surface Marker buoy at all times.

Primrose Hill - Anglesey

The Primrose Hill was a barque built in 1886 by T. Royden and Sons of Liverpool. Her gross tonnage was 2,520 and she was approximately 300 feet in length. Of iron construction, she was propelled by the sails from four masts and had two decks. Her owner was W. Price of Liverpool. She left the Mersey for Victoria, Vancouver, Canada, on Christmas Eve 1900, under tow of the tug William Jolliffe. On the 28th December the William Jolliffe put into Holyhead Port to report she had lost her tow off Bardsey the previous night. At 08:30 a.m. a Coastguard telegraphist at the South Stack look-out saw the barque flying the distress signal ‘N.C.’ She was caught between a West North West gale, a force 10, and a flood tide. The London and North Western Railway Co passenger ship SS Hibernia, was at that time travelling back from Dublin to Holyhead. She immediately diverted to go to the assistance of the Primrose Hill. As the Hibernia got almost alongside the Primrose Hill her steering gear broke down and the Captain of the SS Hibernia had to abandon the rescue and was extremely lucky to save his passenger laden vessel without being driven ashore. Those on land who had gathered to watch the rescue were bewildered as to why the Hibernia had left the scene. The Primrose Hill then dropped both anchors, but they dragged, and when within some 200 yards of the South Stack Lighthouse – her crew actually waving to those on the cliffs – she struck submerged rocks. The time was 2:00 p.m. and within five minutes she went to pieces. Of the 34 on board, there was only one survivor. Lying close inshore at a depth of about 10-12 metres, iron ribs and sections of iron plate are visible, along with a piece of one of the tubular masts. A number of firebricks bricks and intact beer bottles have been found on the wreck.


This is a mussel dredger of 192 tons sank in 1984, cause unknown.


On the stormy night of the 1st March, 1873 the steamship Torch collided with the sailing ship Chacabuco, and both sank. Although the Chacabuco went down within minutes, the Torch remained afloat for several hours. The Torch represented almost the beginning of iron steamships. You may not recognise the boiler on this wreck at first as 1860-era low-pressure box boiler, not the cylindrical Scotch boiler that became standard later in the century. Its top is the shallowest part of the wreck, rising to 13m from a general depth of 18m on the broken hull. The hold area is empty so any cargo in this part of the wreck has either been salvaged or was the sort of stuff that floated off or decayed.

Essential Reading

Thanks in particular go to Chris Holden of Chester Sub-Aqua Club.

I would highly recommend reading:

The Essential Underwater Guide to North Wales, Volume One, Barmouth to South Stack by Chris Holden (2003) Calgo Publications, ISBN 0-9545066-0-X

The Essential Underwater Guide to North Wales, Volume Two, South Stack to Colwyn Bay by Chris Holden (2008) Calgo Publications, ISBN 978-0-9545066-1-2

The Wrecks of Liverpool Bay by Chris Michael (1994) Liverpool Marine Press, ISBN 0-9524315-0-5

The Wrecks of Liverpool Bay Volume Two by Chris Michael (2008) Liverpool Marine Press, ISBN 0-9524315-1-3

Visit BSAC.com