3 Routes
Highlights of the Area

Vancouver/Howe Sound

Visitors and business travellers to British Columbia’s largest city, who wish to go diving have a good selection of boat and shore accessible dive sites within a short radius of downtown Vancouver. Canada’s first Marine Protected Area (MPA) is located at Whytecliff and several wrecks have been placed at Porteau Beach for the enjoyment of divers. Howe Sound is accessible by a variety of dive charter operators running day or evening charters. Beds of large white plumose anemones decorate many of the reefs in Howe Sound and the observant diver may find grunt sculpins, decorated warbonnets and octopus in many cracks. Night diving brings out large marine worms and juvenile octopus, some of which will quite happily curl up in the palm of your hand. Several varieties of starfish are common in Howe Sound including the world’s largest and fastest, the sunflower star whose 24-plus arms can propel this three foot giant at the breakneck speed (for a starfish) of over five feet per minute. In contrast the crinoid or feather star can swim gracefully through the water by undulations of its spindly arms. Many of the sandy slopes are graced by large orange sea pens and their cousins, the four-foot high sea whips. Graceful, giant swimming ndibranch can be found grazing through fields of tube dwelling anemones. On many dives in Howe Sound, harbour seals are a common companion.

For the non-diver, Vancouver offers activities common with many metropolitan centres and much more. Besides the shopping, museums and vibrant nightlife, downtown Vancouver is in the enviable position of being situated among some of the most beautiful natural scenery to be found anywhere. Stanley Park, one of North America’s largest urban parks is situated minutes from downtown and boasts beaches, forests, nature trails and educational facilities such as the Vancouver Aquarium. Old style markets and historical attractions are all part of the city scene. Looming over the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver, the north shore mountains are etched with miles of hiking trails, and provide three good skiing facilities. Two hours from Vancouver along the scenic Sea to Sky highway, Whistler and Blackcomb provide excellent skiing at world-class resorts. The waters around Vancouver also offer excellent boating and fishing.

Doug Pemberton.

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