Scuba diving in Canada is available coast to coast - after all, Canada has thousands of lakes and rivers and more coastline than any other country in the world - but the most popular spots that lure divers worldwide are in the Pacific waters of British Columbia, the Great Lakes of Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador's Atlantic coast.
Whether it's marine life or shipwrecks you seek, Canada has some of the best cold water scuba diving in the world.
British Columbia's best dive sites run along the province's west coast, especially on Vancouver Island. Victoria and Nanaimo are probably the most easily accessible but if time is less of a factor consider the extra travel to get to gorgeous sites in the central and northern regions of the island.
Some of the underwater sites you may see on a dive in British Columbia include giant Pacific octopus, huge wolf eels, six-gill sharks, soft corals, immense clusters of yellow and white cloud sponge and large red sea fans. Other marine life includes dolphins, orcas, and sea lions.
For more information, see the Dive Industry Association of B.C.
Ontario scuba diving is distinguished by the fact that it is fresh water, darn cold and offers up an abundant number - possibly in the range of 4,000 - shipwrecks. Because of the cold, fresh water and lack of rampant marine life, wrecks dating back to the 1800s are preserved in excellent condition compared to their saltwater counterparts.
- ScubaQ is an excellent resource for people considering dives in Ontario. Lots of great photos and descriptions.
Canada's most eastern province, Newfoundland, and Labrador have plenty of Atlantic Ocean coastline that hosts a rich marine environment and attracts thousands of whales and millions of seabirds. Drifting icebergs and shipwrecks up to 500 years old round out the scuba diving adventure scene in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The most famous shipwrecks in Newfoundland are four vessels sunk by German U-boats during World War II. The SS Lord Strathcona, located in Conception Bay near Bell Island is just 89 feet from the surface.
Book a Newfoundland and Labrador scuba diving package with Ocean Quest Adventures, one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most well-known and respected adventure outfitters and friendly as heck to boot.
Fascinating Facts about Scuba Diving in Canada
- Newfoundland's Bell Island pier was torpedoed by German U-boats in 1942. Four ships were sunk during the attack, which today can be explored by divers.
- An estimated 8,000 shipwrecks lie on the sea floor around Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Wooden ships sunk in the 1800's in Ontario's Great Lakes remain in better shape than ships wrecked from as recently as World War II in saltwater oceans.
- Full quarter-inch wetsuit with hood, gloves, and boots is the basic attire for diving in Ontario.
- Diving is possible year-round on B.C.'s west coast.
- The giant octopus encountered by many divers at B.C.'s coastal dive locations grow to be an impressive 72.7 kg (160 pounds) in weight, with an arm span of 7.3 meters (24 ft).
- Divers have reported coming across several hundred Pacific White-Sided Dolphins on Vancouver Island's rugged north coast.