With summer vacation well underway in Halifax, there’s no better time to press pause, drop what you’re doing and hit the water – that’s right I’m talking about going scuba diving!
To visit Nova Scotia’s capital city of Halifax is to do more than just breath in the salty sea air and drink like a sailor.
The heart and soul of life in the Maritimes, Halifax is a busy beehive of a city. Having a population of nearly 404, 000 residents, Halifax is one of the most populous places on the Atlantic coast.
Hiking, biking, whale watching, swimming, this laid back coastal city is a true hub for students and travelers alike. Everybody seems to know everybody, strangers quickly become friends, and the ocean is never more than a heartbeat away.
Whether you visit Halifax for the freshly caught lobster or to take a walk by the ocean, one thing is for certain; you’d better prepare yourself for the awesome scuba diving.
For those bold enough to zip on a drysuit and dive into the incredible waters of the North Atlantic, an aquatic place of beauty, color and fragility await…
Check out these four shore diving sites within easy reach of the most metropolitan city in the Maritimes:
Africville is a small Halifax community, that pays tribute to the Canadian African American heritage and their struggle against racism.
The Africville dive site is a marvelous place, located on the south shore of the Bedford Basin, smack dab at the foot of the MacKay Bridge.
Divers can enter the water by means of a boat ramp and follow the rapidly sloping shoreline along the left-hand side and can descend very deep, past 24 meters (80 feet) if you crave the darkness and water pressure.
Anemones, anemones and more anemones are seen all over this dive site their tentacles showing like soft wispy frills. Looking past the pink, white and green plumose anemones divers can also spot tonnes of macro creatures. Crabs, ctenophores, snails, nudibranchs… There is never a shortage of little things to spy.
How to Find Africville and What to Look For
GPS Coordinates: 44.675854, -63.615305
Address: 5399 Africville Rd, Halifax, NS
This urban park has parking and easy access via the boat ramp, just watch out for boat traffic.
Sir Sandford Fleming Memorial Park also known as The Dingle, is a wooded park on the Northwest arm of Halifax. The centerpiece of the park is an impressive tower built between 1908 and 1912 to commemorate Nova Scotia’s achievement of representative government.
Diving this oceanfront park is done on the left-hand side of the tower. Divers can enter the rocky beach and follow the gently sloping bottom searching for tube anemones, nudibranchs, and other small burrowing things.
How to Find the Dingle and What to Look For
GPS Coordinates: 44.630317, -63.597339
Address: Sir Sandford Fleming Memorial Tower
Head into the park, find a parking space and dive on the left-hand dive of the tower.
Point pleasant park is a large forested park at the tip of the Halifax peninsula. This historic green space provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy early fortification ruin, coastal ecosystems, and cultural resources.
Diving in Point Pleasant occurs at Black Rock Beach just off the parking lot at Point Pleasant.
Black Rock Beach dive site is a sandy entry where divers go either left or right along the wall and find old bottles, sea urchins and massive lobsters. The site is good for beginners and novices as the area is generally calm and reaches a depth of 15 meters (50 feet).
How to Find Point Pleasant Park and What to Look For
GPS Coordinates: 44.624486, -63.564179
Address: 5350 Point Pleasant Dr, Halifax, NS B3H 4P6
Locating the site and parking should be easily found and very straight forward.
Ferguson’s Cove is a dive site found a short distance outside of Halifax.
The site has an easy rocky beach entry nestled between a pier and man-made breakwater. The flora and fauna at Ferguson’s Cove are diverse and divers can enjoy scouting out many macro sea critters such as hermit crabs, snails, shrimp, and nudibranchs. Heading right when you enter the waters offers the best animals sightings whereas heading left divers will find all kinds of bottles.
Ferguson’s Cove is, for the most part, a shallow dive site ranging from 9-12 meters (30-40 feet) with most of the sea life is found within the first 9 meters (30 feet).
This dive site does not have the greatest visibility and should be avoided after rain and bad weather.
How to Find Ferguson’s Cove and What to Look For
GPS Coordinates: 44.603120, -63.557265
Address: 139 Fergusons Cove Rd, Fergusons Cove, NS B3V 0A4
Parking is along both sides of the road. Don’t block the driveways, pier or breakwater and avoid using the wharf as it is private property.
I’d be lying if I said cold water diving in Nova Scotia isn’t much work – it is.
There is a lot of time, logistics and planning that go into a day of diving. But in spite of it all, the watery rewards are well worth the effort.
The tourism tagline for Nova Scotia is “Canada’s ocean playground” for a reason. Halifax and area have some fantastic things to do on and under the ocean. The fun-filled North Atlantic ocean is filled with critter and ripe for the picking.
Get out and explore what’s in this provinces aquatic backyard!
Diving in Halifax Nova Scotia can be pretty expensive. For two divemaster lead shore dives the cost is $124.99. For two divemaster lead shore dives with equipment, the cost is $202.99. On these dives, the divemaster will generally highlight the area’s hazards, the points of interest and some of the wildlife you are expected to see.
If you are on a budget and have your own gear, many free shore diving sites around Halifax are accessible by car. These sites vary in difficulty but generally speaking is perfect for Advanced Open Water level divers.
Diving the cold water of the North Atlantic is possible all year round, and the perks depend on the time of year. In the winter time, the visibility is absolutely stunning because of the frozen ground and lack of rain runoff. In the summer the sea’s become alive with fish and jellies. Sometimes in late August and September, the water even gets warm enough that divers can see some seahorses and triggerfish on shore dives.
No matter when you dive, a thick two-piece wetsuit (with 14 mm on the core) or drysuit is mandatory for ocean diving in this cold climate.
There is a lot to see in the waters off Halifax, Nova Scotia. The most significant restriction is finding a way to get to the shore dive sites. Some of the dive spots can be as far as 1.5 hours from downtown Halifax. Any shop you decide to dive or rent gear with will request to see your Open Water certification.
For being the capital city of Nova Scotia; Canada’s ocean playground, Halifax does not have very many dive shops to choose from. As a rule of thumb, most divers in the area tend to use Torpedo Rays Scuba Adventures as they are the biggest shop in the province and have two storefronts in Halifax and Dartmouth.
Got any other wicked shore diving spots in Nova Scotia? Comment below so we can investigate them.
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Diving lens filter kit for GoPro HERO 5/6 which enhances colors for underwater video and photography conditions
Dive hands-free with a diving flashlight glove. This torch holder has a universal adjustable wrist strap scuba and is made of superior nylon material, which means it’s durable and comfortable to wear.
DUI heavy duty dry suit gloves with yellow liners available in sizes: S, M, L, XL
If you’re not quite ready for the expense of big lights, this little video light goes perfectly with any GoPro setup
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
Black Mares Cruise Roller Tauchen bag, perfect for scuba diving and traveling
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod and Bag with adjustable-height legs and rubber feet
Capture amazingly smooth GoPro footage in the air with the GoPro Karma Drone
Dry glove lock system that accommodates all hand sizes
Scuba diving 4ft neon yellow surface marker signal tube with “Diver Below” print
Bare drysuit drawstring scuba gear bag the perfect alternative for transporting a dry suit to-and-from the dive site
Sigma MC-11 mount converter lens adapter (Sigma EF-Mount lens to sony E cameras). Essential photo kit contains Altura photo rapid-fire wrist strap, small lens pouch, cleaning kit, and microfiber lens cleaning cloth.
Suunto SK-8 wrist compass with bungee straps, faster stabilization, and enhanced readability
GoPro HERO6 Black Camera
Sony Alpha a6500 24MP mirrorless camera with a 16-50mm lens, able to shoot 4K movies.
Bare 7mm thick elastek dry suit hood
3PC curved armband glow in the dark slate.
Bare SB System Mens Full Under-layer
The Cuticate floating dry box is a waterproof sports container perfect to fit money, ID, cards, keys and more. The case is small, portable, compact, and comes with a lanyard clip hook to take with you as you scuba dive.
Black Mares Dragon Scuba Diving BCD
Ikelite aluminum digital camera tray with dual handles
Bare 5mm evoke women’s full suit designed by Bare’s all-female design team. The suit has technically, innovative celliant infrared technology which increase circulation, body warmth and performance.
Flexible Lightweight Portable Tripod for Projector DSLR Cameras and Go Pro
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD Large Aperture Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital DSLR Camera + 32GB Memory Card + Photo4Less Cleaning Cloth.
Ikelite TTL dual flash sync cord attaches two strobe’s to the underwater camera housing.
Bare drysuit trek boots designed for rocky shore entries, boat decks, and boat ladders
Ikelite photography strobe DS161 with NiMH rechargeable battery pack
13-inch inflatable dive buoy with a 12 by 11-inch scuba diving flag surface marker
The Sony SEL90M28G FE 90 mm f/2.8-22 Macro G OSS Standard-Prime Lens for E (NEX) Cameras.
Black scuba diving turtle fins
Compact scuba diving finger spool with 150ft of white line and a 4-inch brass double-ended clip
SHOOT 6″ Underwater Dome Port for GoPro Hero 6/Hero 5/Hero(2018) Black Camera Diving Lens Hood Housing Photography with Waterproof Case Accessories
GoPro dual battery charger conveniently charges two HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, or HERO camera batteries simultaneously
Canon Macro Lens EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM – non Image Stabilised
Mini blue scuba diving tank key ring with brass pick tool and o-rings
Rechargeable Ikelite NiMH battery pack compatible with Ikelite’s DS125, DS160, and DS161 strobes.
Compact underwater scuba diving hand reel with a 150ft of white line on the spool
Ikelite underwater macro lens casing is comprised of an acetyl body with glass front and can hold lenses of 4.37 diameter x 3 inches (111 x 76 mm)
Bare Sports 5mm men’s wetsuit made with elastek full-stretch nylon-2 and neoprene celliant liner infrared technology.
Ikelite compact ball arm for quick release handle
Capture amazingly smooth shake-free video with the GoPro Karma Grip
Ikelite Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 underwater camera housing in white
Suunto Vyper Novo wrist scuba diving computer with USB
The Hydra 5000 WSRU is an all in one photo and dive light with wide, spot, red, and UV modes