One can’t reach Bol’shiye Koty dive sites other than by water, so shore diving is impossible here, however, the area is not far from Listvyanka, so it is possible to arrange daily diving here, starting on a ship or a dive boat from Listvyanka. Of course, to get a full picture of the beauty of the place it is recommended to explore it in the framework of a safari. 2-3 days are enough to visit the most picturesque sites. Descriptions of the majority of them run below.
1. BERIOZOVY POINT
A site worth 2 dives minimum. A dive boat is anchored on the endge of the drop off opposite the grotto on the shore.
A vertical drop off with vertical benches. At the depth of 50-60 meters it turns into a steep inclination. Beautiful weeds, lots of sponges. Deep dives are of particular interest.
2. SREDNIAYA CANYON
A dive boat is tied to the trees in the shore or the dives are made from a drifting boat. The canyon is attractive by its gloomy beauty - narrow, deep with a grotto at the depth of 45 meters. At the depth of 50 meters the canyon finishes and an inclination begins.
3. SREDNIAYA THE WALL
This is a cult site among tech divers! One has to make many dives to see the entire place. The boat is anchored in front of the Sredniaya valley. The southern part of the site is a stone terraces overgrown with sponges. The central part of the site is a grandiose vertical wall that comes to steep stepped slope. At 8m there is a memorial table for drowned diver. At 37m there is a cave with narrow entrance (cave dives require special training). On the depth of 55m there are two joint caverns. At 77m there is a terrace with a part of navigational sign. At 90m there is a cavern. At 110m there is a flag of Russian Army installed by diver Edik Gazimov. The northern side of the site starts with corner where the drop off sharply inclines. On this corner the navigation signs are usually installed and many of them lie on the depths of 6-15m and also on the depth of 90-100m under the drop off. On the wall at this place there are negative declinations. The drop off on the depth of 90-95m comes steep slope. On the drop off edge there are thickets of sponges and beautiful plants closer to the shore. Northern and central parts of the dive site are ideal for deep dives. The fall to the bottom (if the dive to 110m is planned) is possible to make along the wall. The record Baikal dive to the depth of 154m was made here. This is ideal place for deep dives and excellent place for tech dives.
4. Chiornaya Rechka (BLACK RIVER)
A big canyon. To see all of it is only possible when the visibility rate is very high, 2 dives are enough to explore the place in detail. A dive boat is anchored on the left or on the right side of the canyon in the offshore area opposite Pad’ Chiornaya Rechka (The Black River Valley). At the bottom of the canyon there are many narrow canyons. Lots of sponges, bullheads, Lake Baikal shrimps.
A vast dive site worth more than 2 dives. There are 2 shallow water offshore areas to anchor a dive boat. One of them is to the right from Pad’ Varnachka (Varnachka Valley). The group of divers moves to the right from where the dive boat is anchored. A picturesque benchy drop off covered in beautiful colonies of sponges goes to the abyss. At the depth of 14 meters there is a grotto - looks like a room - with an entrance and a «window».
The second place to anchor the boat is opposite a beautiful vertical cliff. A grand horse-shoe-shaped drop off is formed by vertical and horisontal benches, there are also very sharp angle inclinations to make it look even more interesting. Varnachka is famous for its huge colonies of sponges both in the offshore area and in the drop off. The wall goes vertically down to the depth of 90 meters in the northern part of the site and 160 meters in the southern side of it. It might also be possible that it runs deeper in the south - this is to be explored. This is the place where Russia’s record winning 150 meter deep dive in the the nomitation «The Deepest Cold Water Dive by A Female» was made in December 2013 by Tatiana Oparina, dive club BaikalTek Instructor.
6. SENNAYA VALLEY
It is impossible to explore the place in one dive. The dive site is opposite Pad’ Sennaya (Sennaya Valley). A dive boat can be anchored in the offshore area to the right from the canyon or tied to the trees on the shore. After the dive it might be of interest to do a hiking tour of a Scripper cliff to get a panoramic view of the Baikal. Almost at the top of the rock there is a cave.
The underwater canyon starts almost from the shoreline. The front part of the canyon looks like a round arena with pebbles-and-sand bottom, at the bottom of which, at the depth of 18 meters begins an underwater tunnel, which runs to the depth of 23 meters. When getting out of the tunnel one has a grand view of the canyon. The left hand side of the canyon (if we look at it from the water, not from the shore) is vertical and sometimes has sharp angle inclinations. The canyon goes down in huge benches. From the depth of 35 to 60 meters the benches are smooth and oval. At the depth of 70 meters the canyon and the drop off turn into a stone inclination.
There are a lot of sponges and weeds both in the offshore shallow waters and in the drop off. Dives up to 30 meters are preferably planned from the beginning of the canyon, with a dive in the tunnel and procede into the middle part of the canyon. Deep dives are to be started with a descend right into the canyon to the planned depth and then ascend along the canyon going through the tunnel. In the offshore shallow waters at the deco stop at the depth of 3 meters it would be fun to admire the beautiful weeds. A nice place both for deep diving and for recreational diving.
7. SKRIPPER POINT
Many different dives are recommended to explore this dive site.
There are several places where a dive boat can be anchored - there are 3 shallow water offshore areas, going one after another and separated by sand-and-stone canyons. These canyons can be considered as 3 diffrent dive sites, united under one name of Scripper. The central part of this dive site is called The Cross. There is a remote underwater mountain chain, on top of one of the summits in the year 2005 there was put up a cross in memory of Andrey Serov (Instructor, the founder of Irkutsk dive club Sval), who died from cancer.
A dive boat is anchored in the offshore area, which is 7-11 meters deep, to the left from the Scripper Rock.
A great drop off with vertical and horizontal benches, with sharp angle inclinations. There are many cracks in the rock. An interesting geological structure of the drop off - it can be compared to a stone road of different colours. Massive sponge colonies.
In the distance from the drop off there is a beautiful underwater mountain range with mountain tops at the depth of 13, 15, 24 and 37 meters. The Cross is on the 13-meter depth. Between the 13 and 15 meters mountain tops there is a narrow and deep canyon, which looks more like a crack between the two mountains. At the base of this crack-canyon is a tunnel, at the depth of 40 meters it takes you to the drop off running to the depth of 100 meters, after which a steep inclination begins. In the drop off there is a deep crack. The crack runs to the depth of 95 meters. When moving to the left after having passed the drop off one gets to see a group of vertically standing stone «fingers», each of which is 2-4 meters high. Between them at the depth of 50 meters there is a grotto. Then it might be high time to turn back home and make your way through the canyon-crack, but from a different side, at the depth of 30 meters. Alternatively, you could move farther to see the mountain range tops at the depths of 60 and 70 meters. At the depth of 70 meters there is one more grotto. Deeper than these grottos and rocks there is one more mountain peak at the depth of 85 meters.
A place of interest for divers with different experience and education level - there are quite convenient places here for practising various skills and for deep dives.
8. SEAGULL CLIFF (DEVIL’S BRIDGE)
Many different dives are recommended to explore this dive site.
A dive boat is anchored in the offshore shallow waters (3-4 meters deep), or in the area (6-7 meters deep) between the offshore zone and the drop off opposite the Seagull Cliff. The horse-shoe-shaped drop off right opposite the cliff is grand with its horizontal and vertical benches, sharp angle inclinations and cracks. The left hand side of the horse-shoe (if we look at it from the sea, not from the shore) is a stone inclination covered in sponges. Huge stones cover the inclination. On the right hand side there is a formation that looks like a canyon, which finishes with an inclination. In front of the drop off, in the middle of the dive site at the depth of 40-50 meters there is a flat area 10-25 meters wide. The left, southern, part of the platform has two arches with entrances 50 and 52 meters deep and exits at 40-45 meters. One of the arches is quite big - there is enough space for a big truck. In the middle of the underwater platform there is a grotto at the depth of 53 meters. To the right (north) from the grotto there are two canyons in the cracks between the rocks. Further north there is a single rock with a top at the depth of 35 meters. The form of this rock resembles that of a mushroom. This underwater platform finishes with a drop off (lined with huge cracks) into the abyss. The wall runs to the depth of 95-105 meters and then begins a steep inclination of huge rocks. At the depth of 94 meters there is an entrance into a big grotto or a cave - this is still to be explored. Geological structure of the drop off is of interest - stones of different colours are mixed with coal-black ones, which makes the picture look quite unusual. Lots of sponges, bullheads, Lake Baikal shrimps.
In shallow waters there are beautiful stone formations covered in weeds. Rumour has it, this place used to be a gold mining area back in Tsar times. Who knows, maybe there is something left?
On the whole, an amazing place. Our German colleagues made enough videos for a film, when diving just in this location. A great place for divers of different levels. An ideal place for deep diving.
9. SOBOLYEV CAPE
A place worth not just one dive. In fact, there are 2 different dive sites - the northern and the southern sides of Cape Sobolyev.
A dive boat is anchored in the shallow waters of the offshore area to the south from Cape Sobolyev. In this place the central part of the dive site is a canyon, which begins with an underwater amphitheater. The amphitheater finishes with huge gates that take you to the drop off. The gates take you to a huge canyon which runs to the depth of 110 meters (we so far have explored the place only up tho this depth). At the depths of 45 and 75 meters there are small platforms in the canyon walls. At the depths from 80 to 90 meters there is an overhead piece that makes going out from the canyon difficult.
The southern part of the dive site is a steep benchy drop off, covered in sponges. The drop off edge starts at the depth of 12-15 meters. Further down the drop off becomes vertical and the wall goes down to the depth of 30 meters, then a steep benchy drop off. At the end of the site at the depth of 16 meters there is a stone arch.
In the northern part of the cape there is a magnificent benchy drop off which finishes with a canyon with an old anchor in it at the depth of 32 meters. The canyon finishes with a sand inclination.
10. SMALL KADILNY POINT
A dive boat is anchored to the north from Cape Maliy Kadilniy. A dark, almost black stone drop off. Due to this geological peculiarity the area is dark even when the visibility rate is at its highest. Green sponges. Bullheads are of dark tints. However, many like the place anyway.