If you are doing a Vancouver sailing vacation this year, then why not think about doing some snorkelling or diving? There are some great dive sites from Nanaimo and whilst the sea may be chillier than snorkelling in the caribbean, you really won’t notice the difference with a wetsuit on! A Vancouver sailing vacation is the ideal opportunity to experience some of the Vancouver Island wilderness and fascinating marine life.
What will I see?
There is some fascinating and beautiful sea life to be encountered on your Vancouver sailing vacation just around Nanaimo itself. There are many varieties of bright and beautiful starfish to see, colourful anemones clinging to the underwater forests of kelp and rocks, and lots of crabs and other crustaceans to see scuttling around the seabed.
Do I need my own gear?
If you choose to book a snorkelling trip with many of the local diving operators here, then they will normally provide all the equipment you might need, such as wet suit, boots, gloves, mask, snorkel and fins. You normally have a professional snorkel coaching session before you head off to your chosen dive site.
See the Seals at Snake Island
Here in beautiful Nanaimo you can have the opportunity to snorkel with around 250 of the harbour seals that reside at Snake Island, you can do this at any point during the year, though be aware that you should be good swimmers to get the most out of your snorkelling experience.
The harbor seals belong to the group of semi-aquatic marine mammals known as Pinnipeds, which also includes sea lions, fur seals and the walrus. Seals are different from sea lions mainly in that they have shorter and stouter flippers.
The Harbor seals are a sight to be seen when swimming using alternate back and forth movements of their hind flippers, they can also dive to depths of about 90 meters and remain underwater for almost half an hour. Harbor seals tend to feed on squids, crustaceans and fish. Between February and July, is breeding time so it is not uncommon to see many seal pups.
HMCS Cape Breton Wreck
If you are fancy doing so more serious diving on your Vancouver sailing vacation, and have experience and training then this diver-prepared artificial reef is a must visit dive site.
It is Canada’s largest artificial reef and was sunk about 8 years ago, it is the second largest in the world. It is a remarkable sight as the ship sank almost perfectly upright, with a slight list to starboard, and many of the rooms are accessible to divers, such as the engine room, which has a great open space with pipes and catwalks twisting throughout.
Another great dive site just a few minutes away from Nanaimo is the HMCS Saskatchewan, which was sunk in 1997 to serve as an artificial reef for marine life and visiting scuba divers. This is possibly one of Canada’s most popular dive sites and not surprisingly as there is excellent visibility all year round, due to the gentle bottom current the ship sits in, as well as being diveable for all skill levels as they are many large holes cut out along the length of the ship. Not to mention the extensive selection of marine life to be seen, including more than 100 different species, of huge plumose anemones, rock fish, enormous anemones and multicolored nudibranch.
So as you can see there is much more to a Vancouver sailing vacation than just above the water, there is much more underwater to explore too, in fact so many to mention we will come back to more dive sites in part 2 of these series.