3 Routes
Highlights of the Area

Campbell River

Midway up the eastern side of Vancouver Island, the town of Campbell River overlooks Discovery Pass, a narrow stretch of water which separates Vancouver Island from a jumble of smaller islands. Discovery pass is a bottleneck at the north end of Georgia Strait resulting in currents and eddies that nurture a profusion of colourful marine life. Quadra Island, a short ferry ride from Campbell River is a favorite dive destination. At sites such as ‘Row and be Damned’, the rocky bottom is carpeted with a thick covering of strawberry anemones, turning this area into a pink wonderland. Kelp greenlings, lingcod, octopus, and several varieties of rockfish and sculpins also make this their home. In other areas, huge clumps of meter-long feather duster worms and sponges adorn sheet walls, while curious wolfeels can be found at a few different spots along Discovery Pass. Although there is limited shore access, because of strong currents, it is wise to charter one of the local operators.

Cortes Island, accessible by ferry from Quadra Island also presents some excellent boat diving. At Surge Narrows and Gorge Harbour, the walls are adorned with an abundance of plumose anemones and vibrantly-coloured encrusting sponges and corals. The rich invertebrate life provides a smorgasboard for a wide variety of nudibranchs including the alabaster and the largest of them all, the orange-peel nudibrach. Dogfish sharks, wolfeels and several types of colourful sculpins are also common residents. Dive resorts are found on both islands and in the town of Campbell River. Besides the exceptional diving, Discovery Passage is an internationally famous salmon fishing destination. If you need a break from the water, nearby Mount Washington offers excellent snow skiing during winter.

Doug Pemberton.

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