For divers that learn to dive in Vancouver, most take the plunge during the warmer months, but for those that keep diving they soon learn that winter is the best time of year to dive locally in BC. British Columbia offers rewards to divers regardless of season and below are my reasons why my Scuba diving experience is all year long in BC
Great visibility for your dive experience
This is the primary reason to dive through the colder months in Vancouver and the rest of BC. While plankton blooms in the summer during the warmer, longer days, the typically overcast skies and short days in the winter keep these blooms at bay. This means the top 30ft/10m are more or less free of the tiny creatures that cause the murkiness June through August. Also, while everything is frozen in the form of snow on the mountains we don’t see the run-off that often clouds the visibility with sediment in late spring.
So get out and explore more during the winter months to experience crystal clear visibility that many assume is only available in warm water destinations. Many sites on the Sunshine Coast and on Vancouver Island boast visibility nearing or even sometimes surpassing 100ft/30m during the colder months.
Water Temperature remains consistent for dives year round
While in Canada we shiver above the water in the winter, the temperature of the Pacific Ocean in our region does not vary significantly from July to December. The surface temperature may swing a fair bit, but once you get down to 30ft/10m the water hovers around 8 degrees Celsius all year round.
In case you were already thinking it, 8 degrees is moderately cold water, but if you are properly prepared with a drysuit and appropriate undergarment it can be quite enjoyable. Many active cold water divers will be the first to admit that they hate being cold, like all outdoors activities having the proper gear makes a world of difference. We have amazing things to see and explore underwater in British Columbia and it is entirely possible to stay comfortable while doing just that. Drysuits make the difference between tolerance and enjoyment all year long, but are really crucial in the winter months. Training to use these suits is available all year round through courses like our Drysuit Specialty course.
Marine Life of BC
One of the coolest things about diving throughout the seasons in BC is getting the opportunity to observe the different marine species that appear throughout the year and observing the behavior of some of the more local species. For instance, July through September is the period where fortunate local divers may catch a glimpse of the Six Gill Shark. This is also the time when its smaller and less elusive cousin, the Dogfish tends to be spotted.
The autumn tends to see herds (schools, flocks, gaggles?) of Hooded Nudibanchs take over certain shallow bays along the coast. Late winter and early spring is Lingcod egg season, during which generous divers can participate in the Vancouver Aquarium’s annual survey to monitor the Lingcod recovery. Divers’ situational awareness is also put to the test during this time as male lingcod guarding their egg masses tend to get a little… assertive.