Classic Trip: Scuba Dive the British Columbia Coast

Ultimate Adventure Bucket List 2014 - One of Paul Nicklen's bucket list trips is to scuba dive the British Columbia Coast. Plus: his must have gear pick.

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A diver swims among fronds of kelp in God's Pocket Marine Provincial Park, British Columbia

"Most people, when they think diving, they think Hawaii or Thailand,” says Nicklen. Most people don’t think of British Columbia, but they should, he says. “There’s nothing that compares to the density of life underwater anywhere else in the world."

Just off of Vancouver Island, there are walls and kelp beds full of life, currents that reach 15 knots, attracting large pelagic fish, and a summer algae bloom. The water, of course, is cold, but for experienced divers willing to brave the 50ºF temperatures, it’s an untapped, people-free kingdom of gigantic animals.

“It’s just life stacked on top of life,” Nicklen says. “We’ve got 15-foot-long six-gilled sharks, we’ve got Steller sea lions, we’ve got incredible populations of dolphins, and if you go offshore a bit you get great white sharks, sunfish, and tuna. It’s the richest diving area in the world.”

God’s Pocket Resort, located on Hurst Island east of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, guides divers to sites in the Queen Charlotte Strait, where they can see marine life from king crab and octopus to whales and schools of dolphins.

Paul Nicklen
Photographer and Polar Conservationalist
For a good shot, Canadian photographer, diver, and polar adventurer Paul Nicklen has braved minus 40ºF temperatures, dived under Antarctic ice to mingle with deadly leopard seals, and endured soggy months in northern rain forests looking for the elusive white bears of British Columbia. His work specializes in the effects of climate change on polar regions and has garnered over a dozen awards from major press organizations.
Paul Nicklen's Gear Pick: Sony Digital Noise Canceling Headphones
"For Nicklen, the racket of thousands of penguins is nothing in comparison to the cacophony of people and children in an airplane. “It’s human noise that drives me crazy, so the one thing I make sure I have everywhere I go is music and noise-canceling headsets, so I can tune out the rest of the world.” His favorite pair is Sony’s Digital Noise Canceling Headset, and his favorite tune-out music? “Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen are my favorites.”

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