I refer to Nanaimo BC as Vancouver Island’s “front door” because it opens up to a variety of diving activities to suit any­one’s needs. There are 8 to 12 excellent boat dives and several good shore dives to pick from.

Winking seal

Popular wrecks include the retired naval ships Saskatchewan (111m/366f) and Cape Breton (122m/400f) scuttled as artificial reefs in 1997 and 2001 by the local dive community and the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC). The latest edition is a 47m/157ft North Sea Rescue Tug Rivtow Lion scut­tled in 2005. Technical and extended range divers like to practice their skills in and on the two larger wrecks while photographers and naturalists enjoy them all. Maximum depth on the Saskatchewan is 36m/120ft, the Cape Breton – 43m/142ft and the Rivtow Lion – 24m/80ft.

If wall diving is your pleasure, huge deep walls can be found at Snake Island and Orlebar, on Gabriola Island. The Snake Island wall has enormous white plumose anemones cascading down sandstone formations, dotted with bright pink snakelock anemones, red blood stars and orange finger sponge. I have also seen wolf eels out in the open at 12m/40ft and clusters of cloud sponge at depth. In between dives, snorkeling with resident harbour seals is always an option. Orlebar is steeper, hosting an array of odd shaped chimney sponge (boot sponge), tiger and quillback rockfish and an assortment of crustaceans. This is also a shore-accessible site utilized by technical divers.

As for drift diving, there are two narrow pas­sageways where the currents reach 8 knots at full flow. This in turn provides a nutrient-rich environ­ment for a multitude of invertebrate life to flour­ish. Both are divable during slack times (when the water stops to change direction). Dodd Narrows is located southeast of town between Nanaimo and Mudge Island.

Brilliant giant green anemones and aggregat­ing green anemones with pink tips line the shore of Mudge in the shallows, along with yellow zoanthids, orange cup corals, and metridium anemones on the boulders below. Patches of orange colonial tunicates, burrowing sea cucumbers and several species of rockfish can also be found at depth.

Gabriola Passage is equally as picturesque, hosting a population array similar to Dodd. In addition I have found red sea urchins, gray encrusting lobed ascidians, cabezon fish, grunt sculpins hiding in empty giant barnacle shells and the ever brave little painted greenlings. Small healthy aquarium-like kelp forests are located at both ends of both channels.

Long Lake Waterfront B&B offers qulaity private accomadations and is an excellent day trip center to all activities on Vancouver Island.

http://www.xray-mag.com/pdfs/xray13/X-Ray13_part2.pdf

Text by Barb Roy

, , ,

There are many great ways to spend your day in Nanaimo; from scuba diving in a sunken navy ship, testing yourself at an indoor rock climbing wall, challenging yourself on the golf course, to watching a performance of the Vancouver Island Symphony at the Port Theatre. Whatever you do for fun, you’ll find attractions in Nanaimo that satisfy your needs, along with many activities you might not have tried before.

Nanaimo’s island coastal setting makes it a great place to spend the day outdoors. Here you can hike a rainforest mountain, take panoramic pictures of Georgia Strait, and cool off in a river canyon all in the same day. There are also several great ocean swimming and snorkeling spots along the city’s waterfront, including Departure Bay, Neck Point, Jack Point, and Snake Island. For the more adventurous types, there are activities such as bungy jumping, zip-lining, and ATVing.

For deep water enthusiasts, the ocean floor just outside Nanaimo Harbour has a number of popular scuba diving spots. The area is home to three artificial diving reefs made from sunken ships, including the Canadian Supply Ship HMCS Cape Breton, the largest upright man-made diving reef in the world.

, , , , , , ,