WE HEADED RIGHT TOWARDS the rockier part of the bay once below the surface, and followed mainly sand until we hit the kelp forest. Spider crabs, found on many a restaurant menu around Jersey, slid beneath their kelpy hideouts as we approached them, while a shoal of sand-eels flew above us at speed in their endless pursuit of zooplankton.
Boulders, kelp and sand make up much of this side of the dive-site, until you reach the main bulk of rock at the far-right side of the bay, where an impressive wall comes into view.
Big ballan wrasse came and went, and we were advised to keep an eye out for the “little cuttle” or Sepiola atlantica.
This is one of the smallest of the cuttlefish species in UK waters at only 5cm long. It can be difficult to find and, being the worst person in the world for spotting small stuff, I had little hope unless somebody else found one first.
Bouley Bay is the most popular shore-dive site on the island, because of its ease of access to the water and close proximity to the dive-shop. From the shore, the water has a Mediterranean look to it (when the sun is out) and the tide appears to come and go at quite a pace.
The stony beach and rock escarpments that tumble into the sea reminded me of a classic Cornish beauty spot.
Whether you’re on spring tides or not, the tidal range is massive, often topping out at a whopping 11.45m. After dive one, Toyah and Adam suggested that we come back the following day to try a dive on the left side of the bay, which we were told provided a totally different experience under water. We agreed.
While rinsing kit and camera equipment that evening, I asked Toyah what else stood out in terms of diving around Jersey.
“Les Ecrehous islands six miles offshore have so many dive-sites and are beautiful – it’s a Ramsar site [an international organisation that highlights areas of natural importance], has resident seals, so many sponges, cat sharks, sea cucumbers, scallops, tubeworms, cuckoo wrasse, sting rays, electric rays, undulate rays and even fan corals.
“We often see dolphins out there, and it really shows how huge our tides are, exposing sand-banks in the middle of the sea – which looks like the Caribbean.” Which trumped my Med analogy.
Twenty or more excitable school-kids, peeling off wetsuits after their open-water training, buzzed about Bouley Bay on our second day of diving. It was great to see so many young people getting involved with diving, I thought, as we prepped kit and cameras for shore-dive two, on the opposite side of the bay.