Photograph by Michael Patrick O'Neill, Alamy
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A scuba diver explores the wreck of the Cape Breton ship near the coast of British Columbia's Vancouver Island.

Photograph by Michael Patrick O'Neill, Alamy

Scuba Dive Along British Columbia's Coast

Discover a world packed with sea life on this Canadian coastline.

Recommended by: Paul Nicklen, Photographer and Polar Conservationist

"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."

Plan This Trip: 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.

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.