Did you know Ontario is known for having some of the BEST fresh water diving in the world? Unless you already are a SCUBA diver familiar with freshwater diving, you might be surprised to find out that just hours away from Toronto, in places like Brockville, Kingston, and Tobermory (Georgian Bay) there are stunning underwater scenes just waiting to be discovered. No expensive plane ticket to the Caribbean required!
No matter where you dive, you’ll need to get certified as an Open Water SCUBA diver before you can rent equipment and get space on a boat – but you can get your certification in just one weekend at a number of local dive shops. Most of these dive shops in cities like Toronto, also organize groups to go on diving trips together (locally and around the world).
Of course the water in and around Ontario will be colder than in the Caribbean but as long as you are fitted with a proper wetsuit, you’ll find you’re able to feel quite comfortable. I did this recently for the first time, and I was amazed to find myself perfectly comfortable – the wetsuit really does it’s job!
Also the water in the Thousand Islands area is known to be relatively warm. A great location to start from is on a boat charter from Rockport (23 Front St, Rockport ON).
The water in the St. Lawrence River around the Brockville and 1000 Island area has a large number of ship wrecks that divers can explore. Some of the more commonly visited ones include the Kinghorn, Lillie Parsons, and Robert Gaskin. Check out Brockville Tourism’s underwater video on a few of these here.
The fresh water preserves the ship wrecks so they remain in relatively good condition – even after many years underwater. But key to preserving them also is to take care of them, divers are not allowed to retrieve any items and should take care not to cause any damage.
When I was there, visibility was surprisingly good – shallower waters on a sunny day looked quite clear and blue, and deeper waters or on a cloudy day had more of a green colour. There are currents in some areas, and a variety of fish, including bass, pickerel, and catfish peeking out from under the wrecks or behind rocks.
There are a number of dive shops and dive boat charters that will get you there, including (but not limited to):
- Dive Brockville Adventure Centre / Abucs scubA Charters – Brockville
- Dive Tech Mallorytown (near Rockport)
- Thousand Island Pleasure Diving – Gananoque
- Sharky’s SCUBA – Ottawa
- Aquarius SCUBA Diving Centre – Toronto
- Toronto SCUBA Club – Toronto
- Action SCUBA – Montreal
Many of these also partner with local hotels and campsites to provide a list of overnight accommodations.
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