Dive into the waters of Belgium

Dive into the waters of Belgium

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

In a northerly locale best known for heavenly chocolate, decadent brews and Frites, grand palaces and amazing culture, Belgium is full of wonderful surprises. One such surprise is hidden beneath the surface — literally. Believe it or not, this country offers a plethora of unique scuba diving experiences for both beginners and experienced divers. Hop in and discover the underwater wonders of Belgium.

The North Sea

While the most obvious choice for diving locations, the North Sea is the final resting to place of several shipwrecks in World War II. German cargo ships, the SS Trifels and MS Birkenfels were both torpedoed at the height of the war just off the coast of Belgium. Divers often charter boats and discover the remains of the ships at approximately 15 and 24 meters down. Because of quick-changing conditions, diving in the North Sea is recommended for more experienced, open-water divers.

Caves, lakes and quarries

Carrière de Vodelée – Situated in southwestern Belgium along the border of the Ardennes, this abandoned mine has been turned into a diving hotspot. With clear, emerald water divers can explore sunken sailboats and discover different marine life submerged below the waterline.

La Gombe – Just south of Liège, La Gombe is one of the best spots for inland diving. Crystalline water lends itself to fantastic conditions for divers of all abilities. Abundant fish swim alongside you as you investigate the remnants of a fighter jet and an armored car settled on the bottom of the quarry.

Carrière de Rochefontaine – Approximately 30 minutes south of Charleroi, this former excavation pit is hard to miss with a construction crane sticking above the waterline. With a WWII era plane in shallow depths, various mining equipment, a sunken tugboat and plenty of sea life, it’s easy to spend the day exploring the water.

Plate Taille – This popular dive spot is part of the Lac de l’Eau d’Heure in southern Belgium. Calm waters and unique treasures, including helicopter wreckage, beneath the surface provide a day full of exploration and adventure.

Indoor - Nemo 33

If the weather doesn’t lend itself to diving outside, why not head inside? Once the world’s deepest swimming pool (now the second-deepest), Nemo 33 in Brussels is a fantastic place to get certified, practice maneuvering through underwater caves and brush up on any rusty diving skills. With plenty of trainers and dive instructors to assist you, you’ll be ready for the open water in no time. The best part is no wetsuit required — the pool remains a balmy 86 degrees all year.

Know before you go

Many dive spots are located on private land and require permission before entering. You’ll need to make reservations in advance, with some places charging a small fee to access. Most of the quarry locations feature fill stations for tanks, changing rooms and restaurants. Be sure to check with local dive clubs to obtain permits if necessary.

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