British Columbia: An Unlikely SCUBA Diving Paradise


If you are like most divers, then you probably dream about tropical blue waters with an abundance of colorful fish and a rainbow of corals. Traveling north to British Columbia for the express purpose of SCUBA diving might seem a little odd at first, but once you find out more about the wonders that await beneath the clear, cool waters that surround the province’s coastline, you will probably find yourself feeling a bit anxious to get started.

Incredible Marine Life

While marine life in many cool water environments tends toward green and brown shades with an occasional flash of color, British Columbia‘s marine life is typified by a rainbow of hues from brilliant yellows to vibrant purples, with every imaginable color in between represented. Here, you’ll find nudibranchs galore, including Pink Tritonia, fascinating Orange Peel nudibranchs, opalescent nudibranchs, and many others. Sea snails are well represented, as are sea cucumbers and many other invertebrates. Cnidarians, such as bright green surf anemones, clusters of beautiful pink and white strawberry anemones, vibrant orange and yellow sea pens, and enormous plumose anemones in shades of gold and ivory decorate rock formations and walls while corals including many types of soft coral and even gorgonian sea fans can be found at different sites. Masses of pink hydrocoral and purple encrusting corals add even more color and texture, creating an incredible tapestry against which a number of fish and other sea creatures can be found.

Jellyfish, including the Fried Egg jellyfish, are common, as are bony fishes such as Yelloweye Rockfish, China, Quillback and Tiger Rockfishes, and many others. Gigantic Lingcod lurk beneath ledges and sit atop rocks, while big sculpin, including Red Irish Lords and others, are commonly encountered as well. Members of the shark family are seen with a bit less regularity; but keep your eyes open since it is possible to see dogfish, ratfish, and even large skates at some BC dive sites.

Diving for All Levels

Divers new and accomplished alike will find that British Columbia has something to offer. Unlike many other popular diving destinations many dive sites around Victoria and Vancouver can be easily accessed from shore, meaning that you and your dive buddies can simply drive to your destination, kit up, and enjoy some world class diving only a short distance away from BC‘s largest coastal cities.

Some of the best places to dive in British Columbia include the following:

  • Porteau Cove Provincial Park – Here, you’ll find a number of artificial reef structures, mostly at depths between 20 and 60 feet. There are wrecks here too, including a minesweeper called the Nakaya, which is suitable for advanced divers only as it is at a depth of about 90 feet and is further from shore.
  • Victoria’s Ogden Point Breakwater – just minutes from downtown, this 800 metre long breakwater shelters a stunning array of marine life. A forest of bull kelp adds even more interest, and the Ogden Point Dive Centre located right onshore offers a cafe as well as dive instruction and chartered trips to offshore dive sites.
  • The Sunshine Coast — there are several excellent dive sites here, including Mermaid Cove, which features a fantastic bronze mermaid sculpture. Easy to access from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver this area has much to offer divers and non-divers alike.

These are just a few of the more than one thousand places to dive in British Columbia. Armed with an underwater camera, and accompanied by a reliable dive buddy, you’ll find yourself enjoying amazing adventures, one after another.

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