When I did my diving course, I was told that it was much easier diving in warm waters so if you finish your course in colder seas, you don't have to have a diving skill check before your recreational dive with a new diving operator. On the other hand, if you finished your courses in warm waters, they test your basic skills before they let you underwater.

If I understood correctly, cold waters are considered those that are not in tropical seas so not that chilly to start with but I would like to know where the coldest place that offers PADI diving courses is? That diving school should not be specializing in cold-water diving but should have all the courses, starting with Open Water Diver course.

  • Try learning in the UK in the winter in a lake, they don't quite have to crack the ice but it's pretty close...
    – Gagravarr
    Nov 2, 2012 at 22:21
  • 3
    Is this on topic here or just another candidate for outdoors.stackexchange.com? Nov 2, 2012 at 22:41
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    Considering I would visit the location would qualify this question for this site. I don't believe I have to mention that in each question.
    – rlab
    Nov 3, 2012 at 13:14
  • I don't know much about diving, but maybe the Norwegian diving association would have some hints toward an answer to this question.
    – gerrit
    Nov 3, 2012 at 13:51

5 Answers 5


The PADI Dive Centre at Scapa Flow in Orkney is the coldest in the UK, and at a latitude of 59 degrees north it has to be a contender.

It would certainly qualify as a cold water dive centre, and as a bonus you can see the German High Seas Fleet that was scuttled there on 21st June 1919.

From their website, they have the following courses:

  • Try a dive
  • Open Water Diver 4 day course
  • Advanced Open Water diver
  • Rescue Diver
  • Emergency First Response
  • Divemaster

From the Dive Site Directory, the water temperature and guidance is:

Water temperature: 4°C (39°F) in April to 14°C (57°F) in September

Suit: A drysuit is highly recommended

  • Source when you quote ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Jun 6, 2013 at 4:03
  • Interesting - is that an official scraper site?
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 6, 2013 at 6:16
  • doubt it - doesn't give any links back, pretty bad :/ Clever idea, scrap SE sites (they're creative commons, no?) and chuck ads on. Kinda poor form tho.
    – Mark Mayo
    Jun 6, 2013 at 6:43
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  • I am not sure if latitude alone is a good candidate to decide upon whether or not a spot is the coldest. Remember that the south of Spain shares a latitude with quite some cold regions in the US/Canada. The water temperature in the UK is hugely affected by the warm currents.
    – user141
    Jun 6, 2013 at 14:01

According to this page (and this)there is a dive centre at Nusfjord on the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway - well above the Arctic Circle. I'm pretty sure a dry suit is compulsory there.

EDIT: So I finally found a good-looking map of sea surface temperature and it turned up some surprising things.

  • Kongsfjord (Norway) seems to be in around 8°C and Nusfjord about 10°C - both surprisingly warm.
  • Alaska as a whole is colder than Norway, but Kodiak is well in the south of Alaska. The sea temperature there is around the 6°C level. Kodiak Alaska is probably the coldest place you can get basic SCUBA instruction (kudos Andra)
  • Scapa Flow is 12°C - almost tropical by comparison (EDIT AGAIN: Just read the addition to the Scapa answer - I'm thinking my map is average or maybe current temperature)
  • Silfa in Iceland is indeed colder than all the above at 2°C - but the only instruction it offers is the extremely specialized 'PADI Tectonic Plates Awareness Course', which seems to be unique to the site. I'm note sure if it counts.

I did find a new contender for coldest dive site: Arctic Canada Dive Adventures will take you on a dive trip to Iqaluit Nunavut, where the water temperature is -1°C and the sea ice is 3 feet thick. But they don't offer instruction there.


You could try Silfa in Iceland. I haven't tried it myself but it is supposed to be pretty awesome.


Google maps might be your friend here. Zoom in to a cold region and search for "scuba". Two suggestions that pops up are:



  • I've added some data to my answer and I now believe that Kodiak is indeed the coldest place that offers regular Scuba instruction. Jun 7, 2013 at 21:36

I don't know about PADI courses, but at least with regard to the question in the title (Where is the coldest commercial diving site?), it is possible to dive (and snorkel) in the Antarctica. Commercial packages, e.g. here and here (the last one being the first package offered in the world, according to their website).


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