DIVING ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
". . . these waters are equally enticing when seen from down under. In fact they are ranked among Canada's best places to scuba dive because of the diversity of geological features and marine life." [Globe and Mail - July 18, 2001]
There are so many good reasons to Dive the Sunshine Coast:
- incredible visibility year round
- crystal clean, unpolluted waters
- colourful and abundant marine life
- all weather diving with sheltered waters
- dive sites for all levels of diving experience
- shore and boat dives
- home of the HMCS Chaudiere Artificial Reef Site
- safety:oriented, friendly dive operators
The most popular spot to dive on the Sunshine Coast is at the Skookumchuck Rapids. "Skookum" means strong, and "chuck" means waters. This is a trip for experienced divers only.
The dive is popular due to the amount of growth from the tidal exchange and oxygen content - the marine life includes anemones, rose stars, rock fish, kelp greenlings and, sometimes, Puget Sound king crabs. The best way to dive the rapids is on a charter - most local operators have hundreds of hours of experience diving the Skookumchuck.
Less experienced divers might want to take a crack at the Tzoonie Narrows. The tidal stream here is only three to four knots. Marine life includes sea lemons, lingcod, kelp greenlings, silvery pile perch, wolf eels and even decorated warbonnets with spikes on their heads. Tzoonie is also a popular night-diving spot.
The 366' foot wreck of the HMCS Chaudiere was scuttled on December 5 1992 by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia to make a habitat for marine life and a place for divers to play on an otherwise featureless bottom Commissioned as a destroyer escort and submarine hunter in 1959, the Chaudiere now lays on her port side with the top of the wreck 60-90 feet deep.
Although wreck "penetration" requires extra training and experience, the ship has been cleaned and prepared with the safety of divers in mind. Volunteers marked directions on the inside walls of the Chaudiere prior to its sinking in order to aid future divers in navigating through its interior.
Close to Kunechin Point on the north end of the Sechelt Inlet, one of the best dives you'll ever have in the northwest is diving on the Chaudiere in the winter. After descending a few feet below the surface on one of the ship's three mooring lines, the entire ship comes into view. One can only stop and admire in awe at the unbelievable winter visibility and their ability to view the entire ship, from one end to another, before continuing down to it.
The Sunshine Coast's Most Common Dives
". . . a fantasia of strange and colourful sea life exists below the surface" [National Geographic]
Georgia Strait Side
White Islets: large barren rocks whose underside are covered with sea life and resident octopus, often seals and sea lions for dive buddies
Trail Islands: easy wall dives, octopus, beautiful underwater gardens
Agamemnon Channel: pristine waters, deeps walls with gorgonian red corals
Sechelt Inlet Side
Skookumchuk Narrows: most sought after drift dive on the coast, abundant sea life due to high tidal exchange. This dive only available during slack tides
Tzoonie Narrows: almost always diveable, similar to Skookumchuk
HMS Chaudiere: artificial reef, 350' destroyer sunk in 1992, approaching 10 years of marine growth, huge resident ling cods (see web site on our links)
Carlson Point: deeps walls and ledges, known for nudibranchs, octopus and wolf eel
Piper Point: wall dive, huge plumose anemones, octopus and wolf eel
Power Lines: deeps walls and ledges, beautiful dive, octopus, wolf eel, cloud sponges and a number of six:gill shark sightings (unknown before)
Trail Bay: off beach in front of Sechelt
treasure hunt for antique bottles, china and general collectibles from Union Steamship Dock days, fun and easy
Coopers Green: easy entry, diver:friendly park, lots of nudibranch, wolf eel, anemones and resident octopus
Martin's Cove: secluded cove with deep wall, beautiful sea life with wolf eel, octopus and nudibranchs
Tuwanek: small island close to shore, mix of walls and small reefs, wolf eels, lots of anemones and sea life
Other Great Resources for Sunshine Coast Diving
- A Review from ShoreDiving.com
- Beneath the Cold Sea, by David Hall - Pacific Northwest Diving
- Best Diving - Sunshine Coast, by CoolDiving.com
- NorthWest Dive News (Facebook)
- Malahat Shore Dive, Powell River
- Diving in Lund Review
There are several Dive and Tour Operators on BigPacific who want to help show you the undewater world of the Sunshine Coast. For more information on diving sites and many more check out the giant map at Suncoast Diving and Watersports which marks all the known and favourite sites on both sides of the Sechelt Peninsula.