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Diving in Canada

From the West coast to the East coast, the colder waters of Canada lure divers into seas and lakes for unimaginable encounters. With borders on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans along with more lakes than the rest of the world, Canada is a super diving friendly.

Diving in Canada

Quick facts

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. Getting a handle on the plethora of dive opportunities is easy if you think regionally. On the West Coast, the Pacific beckons. The dive sites here are characterized by walls, pinnacles, and reefs both natural and man-made. 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. A very popular dive on a freshwater wreck is Tobermory in the Fathom Five National Marine Park of Lake Huron. Atlantic Canada offers up another entire ocean complete with some of the biggest tides going and some of the world’s strangest marine creatures. And sitting on top of all this, not to be forgotten by the adventurous, are the enormous Arctic Territories.

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.

When to go

The weather in canada varies dramatically by location. Water temperatures can vary from sub zero up to more than 35°C/95°F. It’s best to decide on a destination and check the weather out for that specific location.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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West Coast * 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. Prairie Provinces * 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. Central Canada * 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. Atlantic Canada * 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. Arctic Canada * 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.

What to see

You’ll find just about every species outside those of the tropics. The cold water temperatures make for interesting life under the water, either in the coastal seas or the inland lakes. Diving off the coast of British Columbia, the water teems with invertebrate life, sea lions, juvenile rockfish, giant octopus and a host of anemones and urchins. The pinnacles and reefs are smothered by staghorn bryozoan, which resembles that of a tropical reef in its palette of color alongside hydroids, scallops, and tubeworms. On the opposite coast of Nova Scotia, there is a vast selection of whales. Killer, humpback, minke, right and pilot whales all make their home in these waters as does the giant bluefin tuna. You will also occasionally find the sunfish in these waters in search of the abundant jellyfish. Inland, the freshwater lakes provide opportunities to see jellyfish, lake trout and whitefish as you delve into the caves and wrecks in the numerous underwater reserves.


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Canada is vast and varied. It’s snow-capped Rocky Mountains, vast prairies, glaciers and arctic expanses. It’s also Montreal’s culture, coffee and a doughnut at Tim Hortons, British Columbia salmon and a Calgary rodeo. It’s a magnificent destination. Canada's expanse of land stretches from the US border in the South to the Arctic Circle in the North. The country has a population of over 35 million people in 10 provinces and 3 territories. Ottawa is the capital city, and the diversity of cultures present expands across to the metropolis of Toronto and into  French-influenced Montreal and Quebec. In addition, 60% of all the lakes in the world are found in Canada. Furthermore, Canada is considered a constitutional monarchy and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It therefore, holds the Queen of England as the current head of state and retains strong ties with Britain. This northern country is known to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, as it has an abundance of natural resources and reputable trade networks across the globe.

Other attractions

From cosmopolitan cities to vast tracts of wilderness, the possibilities of Canadian attractions are limited only by your imagination. There’s the Canadian Rockies mountain range in the south to explore, and the glaciers of the Arctic Circle in the north with fauna, flora, heritage and culture in every city or town in between. You might even hire yourself a pack of huskies and take your sled to see the Northern Lights in the night skies of the Northwest Territories. Montreal and Quebec offer a French perspective on living in Canada, but nothing matches the bustling streets of Toronto for nightlife and shopping excursions. Additionally, Niagara Falls is a highlight, being one of the natural wonders of the world.

Getting there

There are plenty of flights going to and from Canada's main airports in Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Calgary and Edmonton. Those coming from the United States may also choose to drive across the border. In addition, cruises dock frequently in many of the British Colombian ports and up the East coast. In general, the Canadian transport infrastructure is excellent.


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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.

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