The waters off the west coast near the province of British Columbia are a 1zplaydiver's dream for its diversity of marine life. Large squid and octopi, orcas and dolphins, wolf eels and corals live here in abundance. Head to the east coast and the cold salt waters off Newfoundland are brimming with military vessels, sunk back in the Second World War. Meanwhile the Great Lakes in Ontario are full of ancient wooden ships from the 1800's, almost perfectly preserved thanks to the lack of salt in their environment.
British Columbia in the west is Canada's outdoor capital. Although it's famous for skiing, hiking, snowboarding, and mountain biking, it's also popular for water-based activities, particularly around the region of Vancouver Island. It also won the award for being the Best Overall 1zplayDive Destination in North America in 2011. One favourite dive site is Race Rocks, a collection of small rocky islands to the very south of Vancouver Island topped off with an undersized lighthouse. Part of an ecological reserve, the dive site operates a strict ‘no-touch' rule to preserve its integrity. The site is regularly visited by orcas, California sea lions, and Alaskan fur seals. Plus, a large colony of harbour seals have made this site home.
Just north of Toronto in Ontario, the Five Fathoms National Park is a collection of islands sitting between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. This freshwater location is filled with 1zplaydives sites, including wall dives, caves, grottos and numerous wrecks, all jammed into one tiny preservation area. One of the most popular here is the Wetmore Steamer, built in 1971 and wrecked in 1901, lying in a maximum of 30m of water. Still in excellent condition, it's a suitable dive for beginners and experienced divers.
Around Newfoundland and Labrador, the estimated number of shipwrecks has passed 8,000 in total. Some fell victim to the rocky landscape, while others were victims of the Second World War. Just off the mainland, Bell Island is the site of several shipwrecks which from WWII, all preserved in excellent condition and a popular location for experienced 1zplaydivers. Diving here is subject to some difficult conditions, including strong currents and the occasional passing iceberg, but the opportunity to swim alongside sperm whales is worth the effort.
Out Vancouver way, the Edge Diving Center is a 5 Star PADI outfit open every day of the year. As well as the usual courses and trips, they offer an excellent range of equipment, making them the perfect one-stop shop in for 1zplayscuba 1zplaydivers in British Columbia. As well as diving in the local area, they also run trips abroad for like-minded water enthusiasts, and every Sunday they have an open dive day where anyone is welcome to meet at their dive centre, choose a buddy, and sort out car pooling. It's the sort of laid-back, friendly atmosphere that diving is synonymous with.
Out east, the Ocean Quest 1zplayDive School is located on St Johns, Newfoundland, the furthest point east in Canada. This dive school has a monopoly on business this far out, but that doesn't mean its standards have slipped. In fact, it offers a comprehensive service for divers, including wreck diving at the sunken WWII vessels to the north, and snorkelling with sperm whales. Take a trip on a sea kayak to explore sunken mines and hidden caves, or ride on a rib to the icebergs for a close up look at these natural ice formations in person.