It would seem safe to say that no self respecting dive related site in British Columbia can begin without reference to the famous Captain Jacques Cousteau. Who can argue with the man that brought us so much research and development in the world of scuba? Captain Cousteau considered our North West waters the second best dive place to dive in the world, and more recently Rodale’s Readers’ Choice Awards voted British Columbia as ‘the best place to dive in North America’. So, it is with the wise words of Jacques along with present and future divers that I invite you to dive some of Canada’s most beautiful waters. It is here that you will enter a world which takes you beyond your wildest dreams. You can see life that in its beauty and sometimes even in its ugliness can leave you breathless and will, without a doubt, leave your mind and adrenal glands wanting more.
It is easy to find excellent dive sites around Vancouver’s coastline and sometimes it is because of this that we stop looking any further. Why? For most of us the ocean is literally in our own back yard. Then stop for a moment and take a look over the fence and in the distance you can see the outline of our neighboring islands and it is here that we will explore.
The Gulf Islands lie on the East side of Vancouver Island and include Gabriola, Valdes, Galiano, Thetis, Salt Spring, Mayne, Saturna, Hornby, Quadra and the Pender Islands. The islands greet you with individual character and some very unique diving experiences.
To get to the Gulf Islands you must first take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen. If you are with a dive tour, the charter will be arranged. Alternatively you can arrange your own chartered boat to the dive sites or simply take a ferry to your chosen Island. Advanced research is recommended as a few of the islands have limited accommodation for visitors. This can mean the difference between a park bench or a bed if you go unprepared. Island population varies from 350 to 10,000.
Ferry rides to your destination can, at times bring with them adventures of their own. Keep an eye out for seals playing or a glimpse of the awesome giant orcas who travel along the North West coastline from April to October. Whatever you see will be but an added bonus to the experience that lies ahead.
British Columbia has some of the best cold water dive sites in the world. Make sure you are prepared with full exposure suits and accessories even in the summer because being cold does not make fun diving and, once you see what our oceans have to offer, you won’t want to come up early.