From a diver’s point of view, Canada really has a lot going for it: It has extensive borders with the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. It has more lakes than the rest of the world combined and 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. And it’s widely considered to be one of the most peaceful and friendly nations on earth.
Canada is vast and varied. It’s snow-capped Rocky Mountains, vast prairies, glaciers and arctic expanses. It’s Montreal’s culture, coffee and a doughnut at Tim Hortons, British Columbia salmon and a Calgary rodeo. It’s a magnificent dive destination.
Getting a handle on the plethora of dive opportunities is easy if you think regionally. On the West Coast the Pacific beckons. The Prairie Provinces have more great dive sites than the name might imply. Central Canada has wreck diving to rival the best in the world. Atlantic Canada offers up another entire ocean complete with some of the biggest tides going. And sitting on top of all this, not to be forgotten by the adventurous, are the enormous Arctic Territories.
- Saltery Bay – This popular Powell River dive site affords divers easy shore access to some great Pacific Northwest diving. Don’t miss the mermaid (really) and watch your depth on the sponge festooned wall, which drops quickly to 60 metres/200 feet.
- Whytecliff Park – Convenient to Vancouver, this dive site is located on Howe Sound’s spectacular coastline. Several dive options make it easy to plan dives for anyone from neophyte to ultra experienced. Everyone should keep a watchful eye out for the iconic giant octopus. Depths to 30 metres/100 feet are readily available for shore divers.
- Porlier Pass – This current swept channel in the Gulf Islands has a number of dive sites including Boscowitz Rock and the remains of an old tug that has become an anemone-festooned marine life magnet. These are world-class dive sites worthy of a page in every diver’s log.
- Clear Lake – This is a great “made” dive site. There’s a life sized ceramic cow, an underwater hyperbaric chamber, a dive bell and many other unusual interesting items to keep divers interested.
- Whiteswan Lake – Explore an old town that was flooded when the construction of two dams created an impoundment. Divers have been busy here too, adding creative structure to highlight dives.
- West Hawk Lake – Created by a pre-historic meteor impact, West Hawk Lake plunges to more than 100 metres/330 feet. Rock walls and ledges interspersed with sloping sandy bottoms are home to small mouth bass.
- Fathom Five – This marine park features clear, clean water, cool underwater cliffs, caves and overhangs in addition to more than 20 shipwrecks. There’s something here for divers of all levels.
- Keystorm – This spectacular wreck went up on the rocks near Scow Island in 1912 and now lies on her starboard side at depths between 6 metres/20 feet and 35 metres/120 feet. For the deep divers, the stern and prop make for some spectacular photos. There’s plenty of structure to explore too including the cargo hold, wheelhouse and engine rooms. Divers penetrating the wreck need to watch out for disorientation as the wreck lists heavily. Some say this is the premier wreck in the region.
- Forillon National Park – This park protects is a great place to get up close and personal with the rich underwater world of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There are several shore diving locations with significant depths accessible.
- HMCS Sagueny – Scuttled in 1994, HMCS Saguenay now lies in 27 meters/90 feet of water. She lists heavily and is partly buried in the sand. The wreck is home to a great variety of marine life.
- Bell Island Wrecks – The PLM-27 is one of four World War II wrecks off Bell Island. It’s relatively easy to access and is a great spot for divers of all levels. The massive, propeller is big draw.
- Deer Island – Make sure to get the tides right here. If you don’t your planned depth could be out by as much as 15 metres/50 feet. Diving at slack water is vital. These tides support a great variety of marine life and filter feeders such as sponges and anemones abound. Lobsters lurk under ledges, often curious and willing to come out for calm careful divers.
- Whales and Ice – With the help of specialist operators and appropriate equipment, it’s possible to dive with some massive marine mammals in Canadian Arctic waters. Narwhal, beluga, bowhead and humpback whale encounters are a real possibility. Spending some bottom time in a unique ice dominated underwater seascape is on the cards too. Icebergs and pack ice create the backdrop for a bucket list adventure.
Visibility – Varies with location and ranges up to 50 metres/165 feet plus in some freshwater sites.
Water Temperature – Varies with location from sub zero up to more than 35°C/95°F.
Weather – Again, varies dramatically with location. Decide on a destination and check locally.
Featured Creatures – You’ll find just about every species outside those of the tropics. Arctic whales, Atlantic lobster, wolf eels and giant octopus in British Columbia and freshwater species in the myriad lake and quarries.
Recommended Training – Wreck and Deep Diver specialties for the many wrecks in fresh and salt water. Dry Suit Diver makes sense for many Canadian locales. Digital Underwater Photographer for everywhere.
Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – English and French are the official languages
Currency – The Canadian dollar
Major Airports – Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Calgary and Edmonton see the bulk of air traffic. The Canadian transport infrastructure in general is excellent.
Electricity – 120 volts, 60Hz. Internet widely available.
Topside Attractions – From cosmopolitan cites to vast tracts of wilderness the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
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