The Artificial Reef Society of BC scored a major coup for divers when it was given the go-ahead to scuttle HMCS Chaudiere, a retired Canadian Forces destroyer escort, off Kunechin Point in Sechelt Inlet. The Chaudiere now rests on its side in deep water (66-130 feet/20-40 m). Several descent lines lead divers to the 387-foot (118-m) hull of the ship and assist as guides to the surface. Kunechin Point, in Sechelt Inlets Marine Provincial Park, is also the site of a marine park campground and can be reached by boat from either Sechelt or Egmont.
Another popular dive site in Sechelt Inlet is at Tuwanek Point Marine Park, where fish are so varied and numerous that you may think you’re snorkelling in Hawaii. The chill of the waters in the inlet will quickly disabuse you of that notion. Access to this aquarium is by water only. The closest suitable public access points are Porpoise Bay Park and Tillicum Bay Marina – head north on Sechelt Inlet Road from Highway 101, via Wharf and Porpoise Bay Roads. Note that there is no access from the community of Tuwanek.
North of Sechelt the popular spot for diving begins in the waters of Halfmoon Bay at Coopers Green Regional Park. Follow Redroofs Road as it loops west of Hwy 101 from either of two entrances. The relatively shallow water on the east side of the bay provides good beginner and intermediate diving as well as snorkelling. A note of caution: Divers must be mindful of boaters in the water around Coopers Green Regional Park and Halfmoon Bay in general.
The maze of coves, bays, and islands around Pender Harbour make it the most popular diving spot on the Sechelt Peninsula. You’ll need a boat to reach the four most popular sites at Fearney Bluffs, Nelson Rock, Anderson Island and Charles Island.
The northeast corner of the Sechelt Peninsula is also the entrance to the Sechelt Inlet. Boat dives originate from the village of Egmont, a cluster of homes gathered around Secret Bay, a short distance east of the BC Ferries terminal at Earls Cove. Three of the many possible dive sites close to Egmont (which include the sunken Chaudiere at Kunechin Point in Sechelt Inlet) are in the waters of Jervis Inlet off Foley Head, in Agamemnon Channel, and the Park Wall off North Point at the Skookumchuk Narrows (Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park). A combination of wind and tidal currents makes diving at these sites both exhilarating and dangerous.
Powell River is deservedly known as one of the premier winter diving locales on the west coast of North America. The clarity of the water and strong currents in Malaspina Strait are the two factors that anchor this claim. More than 100 dive sites attract scuba divers from around the world. One of these sites is the breakwater formed by a ring of 10 concrete-hulled Liberty ships that were sunk offshore in 1947 to protect the deep-water harbour in front of the MacMillan Bloedel pulp mill. In addition, relics of sailing ships and sunken tugboats provide a refuge for marine life, such as the wolf eels and giant octopi that inhabit the deep offshore waters. A beautifully sculpted bronze mermaid sits in 60 feet (20 m) of water offshore from Saltery Bay in Mermaid Bay.
The definitive dive book to consult is 101 Dives from the Mainland of Washington and British Columbia by Betty Pratt-Johnson.