Most of the best-known shore diving sites on our South Devon/Dorset doorstep are exposed to winds from the South or East. Where to go when the "Easterlies, damned Easterlies" are blowing? The answer is usually Chesil Cove. When conditions are favourable then this is a fantastic dive site with visibility well over 10m or so.
You can check out conditions through the daily photographs published at https://www.facebook.com/diveportland This site is maintained by the volunteers at Chesil Beach Watch. The Facebook group "UK Vis Reports is well worth joining too. You may well find a recent report on the conditions at your planned dive site and, if not, just post a request and someone will usually get straight back with the information you need.
To get there drive towards Portland on the A354 and, once you've crossed the causeway with Chesil Beach on your right, bear right to Chiswell and see if you can park (free) on Brandy Row. Put DT5 1LN in your SatNav; this is the postcode of Quiddles Cafe and should get you there. If you can't find a parking space there drop your kit off and head back to one of the other nearby car parking spaces.
For a pre-dive breakfast, or just a bacon buttie if you are on a diet, walk along the Esplanade to Quiddles Cafe - great food and views right over the cove.
The plan for diving the cove can be as simple as "Head West for a bit, swim around, head back East". The easiest point of entry is probably straight down the beach from the ramp and for your first trip to Chesil I'd recommend this area as it has a nice mix of pebble beds, rocks, wreckage and patches of open sand. This variety means that there is an equally varied and abundant marine life to be explored. You can expect to find wrasse, crabs, lobsters, cuttlefish, pollack, John Dory, the occasional bass and often, huge shoals of sand eels. Alternatively, walk along the base of the Esplanade towards the cafe end of the beach and get in there. More or less straight out from Quiddles there is a disused sewage pipe (don't worry - it is definitely disused!) and this acts as a magnet for marine life. Follow the pipe out heading East and perhaps turn left (South) and explore the southern end of the cove where there are some huge boulders and rocks. This seems to attract big shoals of pollack and even some sea bass. Head North when you turn the dive until bearing East to get back to the beach.
OK...its time to talk about the obvious problem here; there is no getting away from it... this is one steep beach. If there is any degree of surge or wave action then getting in, and more importantly, getting out, can be a problem so perhaps its time to adjourn to the pub to talk diving rather than doing it! My preferred way of handling the dive is to, after doing buddy checks at the top of the beach, move towards the water with your buddy close by and to take steeper slopes on the diagonal to reduce the gradient. Once in the water fit your fins and have a fabulous dive. When getting out reverse the process and be available to help your buddy. In all my trips here I've always managed to get in and out with dignity (mostly) intact...just use a bit of common sense.
I've already mentioned the pub and the one to aim for is the Cove House Inn. which does great draught beer and has a fab menu of pub staples. When the weather is good you can sit outside and watch other divers falling over! Alternatively, do like Scuba Blue do when we come down here and have a beach barbecue.
If you need an air fill head for Underwater Explorers just a couple of minutes drive from Chesil Cove.
The Scuba Blue members are regular divers at Chesil Cove. If you fancy giving it a try why not post on the club facebook page and find a buddy to go with. Not a member.... check out the Scuba Blue Club page on the website and join...you know it makes sense :-)
Most of the pictures on this page were taken by the wonderful local underwater photographer, Tony Reed. Check out more of his work at his blog http://cheapandcheerful.blog and look out for his photography workshops with Scuba Blue.