Nanaimo Dive Sites

By Shirley - Posted on 16 May 2013

Nanaimo is a great place to use as a base for diving on Vancouver Island. There are great shore and boat dive sites within an hour north or south of the city offering diving opportunities to all level of divers.

Staff at Nananimo Dive Outfitters will be happy to give you more details about diving any of these sites.

Local Shore Diving Sites

Here are just a few of the dive sites accessible from shore.

Finn Beach

49.233020, -123.964945

Finn Beach is a great site right in Nanaimo for the beginner or a diver looking to go out for a quick dive to get wet. It is an easy beach entry with a very gradual sloping bottom out to the middle of the bay which is only maximum 50ft. There is lots of bottom kelp with flatfish, sculpins, nudibranchs, crabs, baby octopus, pacific lumpsuckers, and a whole myriad of smaller critters.

Finn Beach is at Neck Point Park just off of Hammond Bay Rd. There is a large parking lot, but this is one of the most popular parks in Nanaimo so afternoons can be quite busy.
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Neck Pt.

49.233020, -123.964945

Neck Pt. is a very nice site, but can be a bit strenuous to get to as it is a long walk up and down a hill. The starting point is the parking lot at Neck Pt. Park, right at Finn Beach. Walk up and over the hill and out to the point. There is a gravel bed that is above water at low tide and just below water at high tide that connects the point to the rest of the park. You can get in on either side and work your way around. Either side is shallow for the firs couple of minutes. There is a wall that you follow around - the bottom is about 60 ft. and slopes out to deeper water. It is recommended to do this dive at either slack tide or when there is a gradual change in tide as you can get quite a bit of current coming out of the bay on the left.

Access to the park is off of Hammond Bay Rd. There is a large parking lot but it is one of the most popular parks so you may have to wait a few minutes for a spot.

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Tyee Cove

49.289724, -124.141038
Also known as Seducers Cove, this is one of the most popular sites on VI because it is so accessible on all types of weather and has something for every diver. There is a shallow bowl at the beginning that is great for training, then an easy slope that leads to a wall on the right and another on the left. The depths are good for Open Water Divers and can be great deep dives for more technical divers.

Directions: From Nanaimo, drive North on Hwy 19 to the Nanoose Bay Petro Can. Turn right onto North West Bay Rd and right again on Stewart Rd. After a sharp right hand corner, Stewart Rd turns into Dolphin Dr. Following Dolphin Dr, turn left ontoBlue Back Rd then left onto Tyee Cr. !e paved area on the left of the road immediately after the mailboxes is the parking area. There is a walkway down to the beach on the east
end of the parking area.
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Madrona Point

49.312587, -124.241320

Madrona is a favorite dive site for many on VI. There are 4 good areas to dive at this location with something for beginner and advanced diver alike. The small wall on the left has an easy entry and a maximum depth of about 45-50 ft. There are lots of little critters along this wall and sometimes an octopus takes up short term residence.

The mid wall has a maximum depth of about 65 ft. and has lots of crevices to look in.

The big wall has a max depth of 95-100ft with lots of nooks and crannies to look for octopus and wolfeels and there are lots of rockfish floating off the edge of the wall. and you are often buzzed by sealions as the come around the point to fish in Craig Bay.

Between the shore and the big wall you will find the maze, a series of rocky outcroppings that house a myriad of small life and the odd juvenile wolfeel or octo. You are often buzzed by sealions as they come around the point to fish in Craig Bay.

From Nanaimo, drive North on Hwy 19 to the Nanoose Bay Petro Can. Turn right on North West Bay Rd and follow it for 7km. Turn right at Beaver Creek Wharf Rd and follow it until you reach Madrona Rd; turn left. Follow Madrona to the Cul-de-Sac at the end. The path down to the beach is underneath the signs that states “No Camping. ”Please keep clear of residents driveways and leave room for the public to access the trail.
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Wall Beach

49.302570, -124.217073

Wall Beach is an easy entry with a gently slopping, gradual drop to a small wall that houses wolfeels, rockfish, cabezon, and a myriad of other cool creatures. This is one site that we have seen the elusive Ruby octopus as well. There is a sealion colony nearby so you often get them swimming past your or overhead in large number numbers during the winter months. The bottom slopes out to several hundred ft. in the middle of the bay so there is something here for all levels.

From Nanaimo, drive North on Hwy 19 to the Nanoose Bay Petro Can. Turn right onto North West Bay Rd. Stay on North West Bay Rd for 6km. Turn right at Wall Beach Rd and follow it as it bends right and turns from pavement into gravel. The beach is at the end of the road. Please do not block the driveway of the home there.
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Dolphin Beach

49.291994, -124.144471

Dolphin Beach is a great dive to do at high tide. The beach is quite rocky so it is not a good idea to dive it when the tide is much below 8ft.

It is about a 10 minute swim out to a wall that drops down past 200ft. Between shore and this wall there is a 50ft. deep and wide trench that parallels the shore and is great for finding all kinds of critters from giant nudibranchs, cabezon, Puget sound king crab, red irish lords and more. It is a great
spot for newer divers while more experienced head out to the wall that starts at 60ft.

From Nanaimo, drive North on Hwy 19 to the Nanoose Bay Petro Can. Turn right onto North West Bay Rd and right again on Stewart Rd. After a sharp right hand corner, Stewart Rd turns into Dolphin Dr. Following Dolphin Dr, turn left onto Blue Back Rd. e Site at Dolphin Beach is where the rocky shore comes right up to the road. Park anywhere along the side of the road being sure to leave room for passing
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Cottam Pt.

49.314895, -124.213533

Cottam Pt. is a great dive to do for all levels but especially Open Water divers. Hi slack is the best time in order to limit having to walk over lots of rocks and the current that sweeps past the point when you have large tide changes. There are lots of small critters to see here including grunt sculpins and an abundance of swimming scallops.

There are steps down to the beach but they are large so a little help for you buddy would likely be appreciated. You can enter the water straight out from the steps. Once in hang a left and head about parallel to shore. You will come to a small reef that runs roughly north south. Either come back the way you came or follow the reef south until it turns to sand then head east back in to shallow water and shore. Watch careful as some years the bull kelp - there are lots of cool creatures that make the kelp home so keep yours eyes open.

From Nanaimo, drive North on Hwy 19 to the Nanoose Bay Petro Can. Turn right onto North West Bay Rd and right again on Claudet Rd. At a fork in the road stay left on Marina Way and continue until you reach Seadog Rd. This is a short dead end road right at the point.
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Maple Bay

48.814664, -123.609971

Maple Bay is a great critter dive - if you hit 60ft then you have gone too far.
The entrance is easy with a set of stairs down to the beach - just follow the pier out. On the far left side of the pier, by the last piling you will find a line that will take you out to a small wall where you will find the likes of grunt sculpins, sailfin sculpins, and octopus. If you miss the reef, head out at approximately 60 degrees. Small finger reefs in shallower water to the right of the pier hold lots of nooks and kelp to hide lots of great finds. After the dive there is a hose right by the stairs that you can wash down your gear with if you need to.

From Nanaimo, head south on the Island Highway. Just before Duncan, turn left on Herd Rd and follow to Drummond Dr. Turn left, then left on Beaumont Ave. The Government Dock is on the right hand side and there is a parking lot right there.

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China Creek

49.151044, -124.791098

China Creek is a great day trip into nature. Take the BBQ and relax between dives. There is a campground there that is open all year round though the gate is close at dark and opened in the morning. The far south end of the campground is where the dive site is and that is where the road comes in so turn left at the first campsites you come to and you are there. The wall is easy enough to see. There is a little wreck at about 35ft that usually holds some little critters and is well worth looking in and around.

There is a larger wreck that everyone likes to go to at least once, though there is not a lot of life on it. The ship lies on a slope with the bow at approx. 110 ft. and the stern at approx. 60 ft. The easiest way to get to it is to enter the water about 100m up the beach from the wall. Go straight out to 60 ft. and hang a right. Follow the contour at that depth and you will run right into the ship.

To get to China Creek, go through Port Alberni following all of the directions to Bamfield. Approximately 12 km on the road to Bamfield you will pass a large sign that says "China Creek Campground and Marina". Turn left and follow the road down to the campground. Be warned, the road from Port Alberni to China creek is mostly gravel and can be good or bad depending on when the grader last went by.
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