Those who’ve sunk below the surface around the globe will attest to the world-class diving just outside our doorsteps in Greater Victoria.
Like many veteran divers, Greg Dombowsky has explored locales from Alaska to Australia and a slew of exotic spots in between – and still trumpets the unparalleled beauties to be discovered around Vancouver Island. Dombowsky, a certified dive instructor, underwater photographer and author of Divers’ Guide – Vancouver Island South, says three of his favourite dives around here offer everything for undersea explorers of all skill levels.
“We have the biggest octopuses in the world, the biggest anemones, the biggest sunflower stars,” he says. “Everything seems to grow bigger here.”
Ogden Point breakwater
This walk-in locale is perfect for beginners – there’s a dive shop nearby – and can keep expert divers entertained with its lush sea life.
“As far as beginner’s dives go, it’s a really good spot, easy to navigate,” says Dombowsky, who was drawn to diving after learning of Jacques Cousteau as a kid. “There’s a lot of fish in general. It’s not uncommon to see a wolf eel or octopus and there’s quite a bit of invertebrate life.”
Now with thousands of dives under his weight belt, Ogden Point’s still, calm waters continue to afford ample photographic opportunities for Dombowsky.
Ten Mile Point
“I’ve been diving around the world and Ten Mile Point is probably the best shore dive in the world,” he says.
The basis for his argument? An almost guaranteed sighting of octopuses in their dens and the playful accompaniment of sea lions. But be warned, such a payoff comes with a price, beyond traversing the rough terrain at the beach access.
“The currents are strong and you have to dive on slack tide,” Dombowsky says, underlining that experience diving along the point is a necessity. “If you go somewhere and have any doubt: you probably shouldn’t (dive).”
The ecological reserve surrounding the series of islets off the West Shore is a hotbed of sea life, from invertebrates and fish to the predator sea lions – often spotted sunning themselves atop the smattering of rocks that crest the ocean’s surface.
The shallow dive, only accessible by boat, is on a level of wonder with any other reef in the world. The strong currents demand an advanced diver.
“Vancouver Island is really an amazing spot,” Dombowsky says.
“If I were to compare Race Rocks to any coral reef, the main difference would be that the fish are a little more colourful in the tropics and sometimes the water is a little clearer, but I would rate (the Island) as one of the best spots I’ve ever dived in the world.”