Wrecks and military sites – aquatic playgrounds for divers
Its unique location and eventful history have left the Baltic Sea littered with the wrecks of thousands of ships – many of which are at suitable depths for recreational divers to explore.
A large number of wrecks can be found in Tallinn Bay and around Toila. You’ll also come across them when diving in the shallows between the islands of Hiiumaa and Vormsi. Meanwhile, close to Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa you will find a Russian fighter plane resting on the seabed.
Apart from shipwrecks, divers will encounter other memorable sights beneath the waves: for example, there is the former Soviet submarine demagnetisation station in Hara and the prison buildings that have been submerged in the Rummu strip mine.
Diving with seals
In Vilsandi National Park on Saaremaa you can go seal-watching both on and in the water. Young, inquisitive seals often come up for a closer look at divers and will sometimes even play with them – an unforgettable experience for amateur and more seasoned divers alike.
Fascinating underwater landscapes
Divers never fail to be impressed by Estonia’s cliff-lined coast: underwater terraces often sink to astonishing depths in both the north and west of the country. The best place to see them is in the waters around the Panga cliffs on Saaremaa.
Not far from the island of Osmussaar in the west of the country is the more than 500 million-year-old Neugrund meteorite crater – which in maritime terms is the best preserved crater of its kind in the world. The terraces the crater forms start at a depth of 15-18 metres, and the diameter of the crater itself is up to 20 km in places. A number of shipwrecks can be found close to the centre of the crater.
Diving in lakes
Estonia’s lakes boast more fish and plant life than its coastal waters. The best place to explore this aquatic wonderland is in the clear waters of natural spring lakes.
Those with the best visibility in central Estonia are the Äntu lakes, where the springs alone are worth the dive. Diving courses are regularly held on Lake Saadjärv in the south of the country, where you can visit an underwater theme park of concrete sculptures. And on Saaremaa you can explore the hidden world of crabs in both Lake Karujärv and the Jaagarahu strip mine.
What you need to know about diving in Estonia:
- The recreational diving season usually lasts from May to September. The best visibility in Estonian waters is in spring and autumn (up to 10 metres). Passionate divers can also be found taking to the water in winter.
- The water temperature remains rather low throughout the year, which is why well-insulated wetsuits are recommended. Drysuits can also be used if you have a licence to do so.
- Estonian diving clubs offer training at a variety of levels. Make the most of opportunities to go on fishing, wreck, orienteering, photographic and deep water dives and underwater treasure hunts – and why not try diving at night?
- Each summer diving clubs organise diving camps on the islands of Saaremaa, Osmussaar, Mohni and Pakri, in Toila and elsewhere.
- A number of sites require technical diving experience. For information on approval, accessible wrecks and structures and their safety, cost of equipment hire and transport, contact a diving club.