"The Arctic Circle" Dive Centre and Lodge nowadays
"The Arctic Circle" is a year-round PADI Dive Centre and Lodge located on the White Sea coast in Karelia (Northern Russia). Untouched beauty of the Russian Northern nature, spectacular scenery, clear water and an exquisite underwater environment populated by soft coral fields, kelp forests and mussel farms lure divers and nature lovers from around the world to experience the best diving and natural scenery Russia has to offer.
"The Arctic Circle" houses a comfortable hotel with a set of Russian-style wooden guesthouses and a Dive centre, which is the leading provider of marine ice diving in Europe. We also offer high-quality Excursion services, ice-fishing, Russian banya and SPA-services
Besides diving we also organize regular and seasonal specialized educational programs for adults and children, provide comfortable accomodation in Russian-style wooden cottages and lodges with central heating, that have cozy twin rooms of different categories. Our full-board packages include tasty food, traditional Russian beverages and the Russian Banya for our guests to have an unforgettable vacation.
You will have an opportunity to:
witness the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
ski and ride snowmobiles
watch seals and sea birds
experience ice snorkeling
visit reindeer farm and nothern sled dog breeding kennel
watch aquarium-based sea creatures, where the conditions for macro photography are excellent
go diving with a team of professionals
Our Dive centre offers:
Ice Diving programs - Commence from February till middle of April;
Summer Diving programs - Begin in the middle of May and finish at the end of September;
Diving with seals - "Looking for Seals" programs run at the begining of May;
Mini Diving Safaris - trips with an overnight stay on a remote island including fishing, ukha (fish soup) and shashlyk (grilled meat) cooked on the campfire
Tailor-made diving trips which can be booked on a weekly or daily basis.
You will experience:
the majestic beauty of Northern Russia
fantastic visibility: from 10-20m. in summer up to and 15–40m. in winter
a wide variety of fish species
soft corals, starfishes, sea-urchins, crabs, sea anemones, shrimps
underwater rocks and rifts, rift inhabitants and even shipwrecks
the ice arch of the sea, ice-hummocks and cavities
We do our best to guarantee our guests top quality dive services. Our Centre is well-equipped with speedboats and snowmobiles, provides a large stock of diving equipment and accessories and a well-established mobile ice camp with warm wooden cabins for ice divers.
Why with us?
The "Arctic Circle" Dive Centre and Lodge is a part of RuDIVE Group (the largest diving organization in Russia). Our services are well known not only to the Russian divers, photos taken here decorate covers of many European diving magazines. The team of our professional guides and instructors has a many years’ experience of diving in severe Northern conditions to arrange safe and qualified diving trips all year round.
Safety has been a priority since the very first days of the "Arctic Circle" Dive Centre. The severe northern environment with low temperatures and ice cover demands the utmost attention to maintaining safety standards and equipment. There has not been a single accident in the history of the Centre.
We are committed to a policy of respect for nature and causing the minimum effect on the environment. The Russian North is one of the few remaining places on the planet that has not suffered from the impact of modern industrial society. We take great care of the nature here and strive to keep it intact for future generations of divers and researchers to enjoy.
We are waiting for you all year round!
History: How "The Arctic Circle" Dive Centre and Lodge was founded
White Sea is the cradle of Soviet diving. Several other seas were accessible to people in the USSR, but the location of scientific biological stations on the coast of the White Sea’s Kandalaksha Gulf stimulated the development of modern wildlife studying methods, including scuba diving. Marine biologists needed scientific and educational material, knowledge and observations of the underwater world for their work.
Keen academics began diving in the White Sea in the 1960s. In the 1970s diving kept actively developing, with a major role being played by young employees of the Invertebrate Zoology Department at Moscow State University’s Faculty of Biology.
The most important step was taken at the end of the 1980s - a diving school was set up at the White Sea by marine biologists and diving enthusiasts Mikhail Safonov and Dmitriy Orlov, who went diving at the White Sea, first as undergraduates, then as postgraduates of the Moscow State University (MSU), passionately studying marine biology and improving their underwater experience.
Drysuits, motorboats and a banya for the divers were just a dream at that time, of course. The only regular dives were those in summer expeditions to the White Sea, the Far East of Russia and Lake Baikal.
Several years passed, and in 1996 the Moscow State University Diving Club was founded. Regular trips to the Red Sea began. But the aspiration to continue diving in the Arctic kept growing, and people were eager to try and dive in the White Sea in winter.
At last, in 1998, the decision was made to go diving in the Arctic in winter, under the ice. The first ice diving trip, by a small group from a Moscow University White Sea biological station, took place in March 1998. With no snowmobiles, they loaded their gear on ordinary wooden sledges and dived where they could drag them.
It became clear at that moment, that diving programs at the White Sea would be of considerable interest to amateur divers, and that a decent, well-equipped base was required for modern-day diving: comfortable diving, motorboats in summer and snowmobiles in winter, modern gear, good food, well-trained dive instructors and competent staff. All this could be achieved only with a dive centre open all-year round.
After it, they have been going ice diving in winter and running expeditions on the boat "Kartesh" to various White Sea locations for four years. In September 2002, the decision was made to build a dive centre in the village of Nilmoguba, at the mouth of the Nilma river, on the seashore.
At that time, there was just one family wintering in the village, and there were no shops or telephones, and even no road to the proposed dive centre location, thus, the first loads had to be carried there using horses. The process of construction was very dynamic and was conducted in several directions at the same time: plans were approved, the road was set out, foundations for the first cottages were built and portable cabins for ice divers were prepared.
So, despite the tight deadline and a harsh winter weather, the dive centre welcomed its first group of ice divers on 1 March 2003. Initially, 2 cottages, capable of housing 12 people, were built. By summer 2003, another 2 small lodges had been built, and further construction was in progress.
In the course of time, both the dive centre and the village have been developing. Now the number of cottages and lodges in "The Arctic Circle" Dive Centre and Lodge has reached 20, with 9 two-bedroom suites and 28 one-room. Divers from all over the world come to dive to "The Arctic Circle" PADI Dive Centre. The dive centre on the White Sea coast became a popular and a well-known location within the diving community in Britain, China, Czech Republic, France, Poland, the USA and other countries. Up to 40 divers can now stay and dive at the dive centre.
The road and the local bridge have been repaired and even mobile connection is now available in the village. There are 2 small shops working in Nilmoguba and about 10 families have been wintering there recently.
As far as the RuDIVE Group has built its business on the academic traditions of Russia’s oldest university, it maintains close ties with the scientific circles in Russia and all over the world, and "The Arctic Circle" Dive Center serves as a base for unique MSU research and study programs, in which our clients also take part. Most of our dive instructors and tour guides have a university degree in biology and a huge diving experience in the Northern seas (including the first successful diving expedition to the geographic North Pole and the world record in ice diving).
Our centre keeps growing and developing: besides the dive centre and the lodge we also have a children's camp and an excursion centre operating, we organize regular specialized biology programs for adults and children, and specialized seasonal programs (e.g. ‘In search of seals’). We offer our guests SPA-services, sports activities and other types of entertainment (e.g. cross-country skiing, visiting our reindeer farm or sled dog breeding kennel).
We love the beauty of the White Sea and intact Northern nature and we invite you to join us!