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 breathe 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 Canada’s 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.
Read More on Shore Diving Site around St Margaret’s Bay:
When diving in Nova Scotia where do you even begin? Do you start in Halifax or do you wander beyond to see what the Halifax surrounding area has to offer for scuba diving?
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.
Writers Note: The rock crab hiding in the green plant life image was selected by Canadian Geographic as one of the 10 best wildlife photos from Can Geo’s Instagram community for 2019. The photo was also published in their Ultimate Canadian Instagram Photobook.
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When diving in Nova Scotia where do you even begin? Do you start in Halifax the province's capital or do you wander beyond to see what the surrounding area has to offer?
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