Randi and I both wanted to go diving on Vancouver Island, even though we weren’t going to be there long. We had arranged to go out on a boat dive with one of the local companies, but that fell through during the final week – there simply wasn’t enough customers for any of the dive charters to get out during the week days we were there. It seems like the weakness in the US dollar over the past few years is having an impact on the number of tourists diving.
The hesitation from a US point of view is understandable. Though the currency is (or was a few weeks ago) essentially equal, the prices still seem to be left over from a stronger US dollar. Boat dives in Nanaimo seem start at $120 for a double dive. In California most dive boats are in the $70-90 range for double dives. The prices on equipment seemed to be wildly out of sync with the dollar situation as well – prices on dive gear were anywhere from 20-50% more than what one would see in the USA. Rental rates also seemed to be much higher in Canada, I’m expecting that is because of their increased costs for equipment compared to the USA.
The boat dives were no longer an option, but we still wanted to dive. We shopped around and chose SOS Scuba because they had by far the best rental prices and were helpful over the phone. The couple runs a nice shop and helped us with directions and information about some shore dive spots.
Supplied with directions and gear we headed up the road to Nanoose Bay and into some residential areas until we reached Tyee Beach. The spot is a nice easy slope that breaks off to rock walls on either side. Diving here is pretty dark because of the emerald water, but the visibility was great under 50 feet.
There were lots of sunflower stars and lingcod, but we couldn’t find the wolf eels that live in the 80ft range in the walls. We did two dives here and really enjoyed it. The plant life dies off in the winter here, exposing the holes in rocks and clearing the water. I’m definitely interested in trying to make it back up here during the winter months to visit some of the more difficult wall dives with my own equipment.