The Underwater Realm
The cold, clean temperate waters around Vancouver Island are richly diverse, providing some of the greatest diversity of marine life in North America. Spectacular visibility, fascinating military shipwrecks, and the abundance of invertebrates make the oceans around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands an underwater paradise for diving enthusiasts. There are many encounters playing with the sea lions off of Nanoose Bay and Hornby Island as well as having friendly encounters with the strange-looking wolf eels and famous giant pacific octopus that grows to be the largest in the world in these waters, weighing as much as 60 kgs with tentacles stretching to over seven meters. The waters around Vancouver Island are not much colder than the waters off of northern California, allowing for year-round diving and offering some of the most rewarding diving in the world. Winter diving is popular as the water temperature is only a degree or two lower, but the visibility is so much better in winter. There is not as much spawning taking place, so there is far less particle matter in the water clouding visibility. Many of the dive areas are also more open and accessible as the bull kelp dies off in winter, increasing visibility and easing navigation underwater.