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The Deep North: Canada’s Best Underwater Wilderness Adventures

For most travelers, Canada is hardly synonymous with diving. But, the country’s pristine waters — both inland and offshore — harbor (pun intended) some of the best dive spots in North America. Here are four of our favorite spots for the best diving in Canada.

Experience the Freshwater Dive Capital of the World (Ontario)

Fathom Five National Marine Park Ontario
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There’s no better place for freshwater diving in the world than the myriad lakes around Canada’s capital province of Ontario. The crystal clear water ensures consistent visibility that most divers will only find in the Caribbean or South Pacific. The province’s Fathom Five National Marine Park in Tobermory is home to at least 20 shipwrecks, all accessible to scuba divers. The park’s unique, underwater geological formations also provide plenty of cliffs, caves, and outcroppings to explore. Diver’s Den is a nearby full-service dive shop equipped to certify beginners and outfit seasoned professional divers for a day on the water.

“Polar” Dive Beneath the Ice at Baffin Island (Nunavut)

Baffin Island Dive Safari
Photo Courtesy of Baffin Island Dive Safari Image used with permission by copyright holder

It may not quite qualify as polar travel, but it’s close. Arctic Kingdom’s Baffin Island Dive Safari is a one-of-a-kind underwater wilderness adventure unlike any other in Canada. The unique island is located in the country’s extreme northern territory of Nunavut where less than 40,000 (mostly Inuit) people live in a land area larger than the state of Alaska. This dive trip explores the harsh, beautiful landscape of ice, glaciers, and granite cliffs, plus the pack ice and unique seafloor formations of the Arctic Ocean. Divers submerge into the frigid water during the 24-hour midnight sun with the hope of spotting beluga and narwhal whales, plus harp and bearded seals. Topside, guests can sip tea from hundred-year-old glacier melt, visit traditional Inuit hunting grounds, and traverse the ice via snowmobile in search of polar bears.

Explore the Flooded Mine at Bell Island (Newfoundland)

Newfoundland Source Ocean Quest Adventures
Newfoundland/Ocean Quest Adventures Image used with permission by copyright holder

The cold waters of Newfoundland offer some of Canada’s most pristine, underwater adventure opportunities. In addition to training and PADI certification, Ocean Quest Adventures offers day treks just offshore from Conception Bay South. Divers can explore the remnants of two WWII wrecks, the SS Saganaga and SS Rosecastle, plus flooded abandoned mines that still house hundred-year-old relics. Topside, passengers can also keep an eye out for humpbacks in a region that’s among the world’s best for whale-watching.

Descend the Wall at Porlier Pass (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The frigid waters of the North Pacific and Porlier Pass near Vancouver Island, in particular, are home to some of the world’s best wall dives. Here, the towering underwater ledges and cliffs of the Alcala Wall support colonies of brilliant soft coral, sea anemones, sponges, and other invertebrates. The Pass is also the final resting place for the Point Grey — an early 20th-century steel tugboat that ran aground in 1949. The 100-foot wreck now rests in 40 feet of water with a large hole that provides divers the opportunity to explore her inner-workings. The interior hosts an array of marine life including tiny plumrose anemones, sponges, and large patches of bull kelp adorn the hull.

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Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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