Some of the world’s most varied and spectacular cold-water diving lies off the coast of British Columbia. Diving is best in winter, when you can expect up to 40 meters (130 feet) of visibility. The diverse marinelife includes sponges, anemones, soft corals, rockfish (china, vermilion, and canary), rock scallops, and cukes. Plenty of shipwrecks also dot the underwater terrain. Diver magazine is a good source of local information; its scuba directory lists retail stores, resorts, charter boats, and other services.
The most popular dive sites are off the Gulf Islands, Nanaimo, Campbell River, and Powell River (the scuba diving capital of Canada). Many of the coastal communities along Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast have dive shops with gear rentals and air tanks, and many can put you in touch with charter dive boats and guides. Being landlocked, Alberta is not renowned for scuba diving. A few interesting opportunities do exist, however, including the flooded townsite of Minnewanka Landing in Banff National Park.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition