Sometimes finding a good dive spot is easier said than done, and shore diving around New Brunswick is a living testament to how unexpected and unpredictable dive conditions can be in the Bay of Fundy.
Saint John is a seaside city – and the only one at that – located on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy.
Often confused with it’s Newfoundland counterpart Saint John’s, New Brunswick’s Saint John is an industrial port city, that sees lots of harbor front action from shipping containers and cruise ships.
You hear so much about the world renown Bay of Fundy and its extreme tidal range of 16 meters (53 feet). Travelers come from all over the world to walk on the slippery mud flats or wander amid the carved out flower pots in Fundy National Park. But diving?!?
Just one look at the silty and frequently disturbed water will have any scuba diver running for the hills, after all, who wants to dive in low visibility and dangerously tidal waters.
I do not like to sugar coat things so I am going to tell it like it is; I was excited to check out the New Brunswick’s underwater scene in a place other than Deer Island, but also very hesitant.
I do not like diving in conditions where I can’t see my hand in front of my face, and I know how unforgiving the Bay of Fundy can be. Dive sites around Saint John are no exception. Depending on the tide, weather, runoff, and wind, a dive site can go from having decent visibility one second to a couple of hours later being muck soup.
But when you do catch the Bay of Fundy on a good day, the dive sites in the vicinity of Saint John can be a fun way to fill your diving addiction.
Read More on Scuba Diving in the Bay of Fundy’s Whirlpool:
Submerging into the cold waters of Deer Island is one of the best ways to appreciate the vibrant array of color the Bay of Fundy hides beneath her surface.
New River Beach’s Tommy’s Cove is a popular site for quick and easy dives as it is close to Saint John.
It’s lack of current, gentle tides and ease of entry make New River a great spot for beginner divers and training. With plenty of life to be seen in the shallows, the deepest part of the site is no more than nine meters (30 feet) at high tide.
If you’re feeling adventurous while visiting New River Beach, in 2014 the Artificial Reef Society of New Brunswick placed initial concrete reef blocks for “Reid’s Reef.” You can try and locate this underwater reef, but be warned – this location is particularly susceptible to poor visibility following high wind or heavy rain.
Camping and New River Beach Surface Interval Activities
In conjunction with scuba diving, what’s great about Tommy’s Cove dive site, is that it’s located in a Provincial Park.
New River Beach Provincial Park is the perfect spot for camping, hiking, kayaking and enjoying the breathtaking coastal vistas the Bay of Fundy has to offer. Overnight campsite prices range from $28 to $43 CAD.
Beaver Harbour is a small cove with a rocky beach tucked along the Fundy shoreline.
A favorite for many New Brunswick divers, Beaver Harbour is a dive site that often offers better visibility than most other places and the opportunity for macro photography.
The bottom of the cove is a mixture of rocky and sandy bottom. To the right of the cove, there is a small wall where numerous lobsters live. To the left, you will find a wide expanse of sand littered with tiny scallops and the occasional large boulder.
While diving Beaver Harbour is not tide dependant, entering the water on the incoming tide is better – and easier – not only for getting in but for visibility. Because of the sites open exposure to the Bay of Fundy’s harsh elements, strong surges or winds coming from the North, East or South can ruin a dive.
Access to the site is via private land. For now, the owners have graciously permitted divers to access the Beaver Harbour dive site via Lighthouse Road. In order to keep this site open to divers in the future, please respect the owners and clean up your trash.
The Wallace Cove dive site is located in Black’s Harbour near the Grand Manan ferry terminal.
This easy to reach, easy to dive site, is not tide dependent and has very little current thanks to the bay’s sheltered location.
Underwater, divers can enjoy macro madness with nudibranchs, sponges, crabs, sculpin, lobster, anemones, sea stars, and sea ravens. Though there is a high diversity of marine life scattered across the bottom, Wallace Cove also has a fair amount of silt and muck, meaning that visibility can often be poor following bad weather and windy days. Good buoyancy is imperative for a successful dive at this site and we encourage divers to be wary of the light boat traffic that may use the beach to launch.
Important Information: First arriving and locating the dive site can be intimidating as divers need to pass past the Grand Manan ticket terminal. Just pop over to the booth and speak with the ticketing agent, they will let you past the gate for your dive!
To dive around Saint John, New Brunswick is to be a diehard scuba diver.
Is diving great? Well, scuba divers should be prepared to embrace low visibility water and risk potentially being blown out. Compared to diving on Deer Island, which is a short commute and ferry ride away, Saint John certainly isn’t the clearest place on the planet but there are some neat things to be seen on the bottom.
Divers keep in mind that when diving Fundy, the reality is visibility is going to be hit or miss. Sometimes even in the sunniest and perfect surface conditions, the underwater world is in complete turbulence. It’s really hard to predict what the Bay of Fundy is going to throw at you!
The price for renting equipment to shore dive for one day around New Brunswick is around $85 CAD for a full kit of scuba equipment (this gear rental includes a two-piece 7mm wetsuit, gloves, boots, a hood, a regulator, a BCD, a dive computer, weights, and tanks, make sure to bring your own mask, fins, and snorkel) or 20$ for tanks and weights. For the weekend the cost is 123$ and 25$ respectively.
For guided dives in the area, you typically need to pay for your equipment and a divemaster to accompany you. This is more expensive and can cost a minimum of $125 but can vary depending on group size and certification level.
New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy region is not well known for scuba divers, but typically the best season for diving is in the spring, summer and fall months because of warm outdoor weather (20°C to 25°C) and longer days of sunshine.
Because the tides flush in and out of the Bay every day twice a day, the water doesn’t warm up very much. Therefore no matter when you dive New Brunswick, the water temperature has limited fluctuation and is always COLD.
It is necessary to have your Open Water certification for scuba diving in New Brunswick and strongly recommended to have cold water diving experience and knowledge of the area. Diving in the Bay of Fundy is very tide and weather dependent. Planned dives can get postponed or canceled without warning due to poor visibility or strong unpredictable current.
Fishing is a common livelihood in New Brunswick, and it is strongly recommended to carry a safety buoy with you either at the surface marking your location in the water column or to deploy should you hear boats near the site.
The scuba diving companies working out of New Brunswick are few and far between the cities of St-Andrews, St-John, and Fredericton.
Would you torment yourself in mucky low visibility water all to go diving in the world-famous Bay of Fundy?
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Black Mares Dragon Scuba Diving BCD
Suunto Vyper Novo wrist scuba diving computer with USB
Scuba diving 4ft neon yellow surface marker signal tube with “Diver Below” print
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.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
3PC curved armband glow in the dark slate.
13-inch inflatable dive buoy with a 12 by 11-inch scuba diving flag surface marker
Ikelite aluminum digital camera tray with dual handles
Capture amazingly smooth shake-free video with the GoPro Karma Grip
Compact scuba diving finger spool with 150ft of white line and a 4-inch brass double-ended clip
Flexible Lightweight Portable Tripod for Projector DSLR Cameras and Go Pro
Bare 7mm thick elastek dry suit hood
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)
Suunto SK-8 wrist compass with bungee straps, faster stabilization, and enhanced readability
GoPro HERO6 Black Camera
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod and Bag with adjustable-height legs and rubber feet
Black scuba diving turtle fins
Dry glove lock system that accommodates all hand sizes
Ikelite Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 underwater camera housing in white
If you’re not quite ready for the expense of big lights, this little video light goes perfectly with any GoPro setup
Canon Macro Lens EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM – non Image Stabilised
Ikelite photography strobe DS161 with NiMH rechargeable battery pack
Bare SB System Mens Full Under-layer
Ikelite compact ball arm for quick release handle
Rechargeable Ikelite NiMH battery pack compatible with Ikelite’s DS125, DS160, and DS161 strobes.
Ikelite TTL dual flash sync cord attaches two strobe’s to the underwater camera housing.
SHOOT 6″ Underwater Dome Port for GoPro Hero 6/Hero 5/Hero(2018) Black Camera Diving Lens Hood Housing Photography with Waterproof Case Accessories
The Hydra 5000 WSRU is an all in one photo and dive light with wide, spot, red, and UV modes
Mini blue scuba diving tank key ring with brass pick tool and o-rings
GoPro dual battery charger conveniently charges two HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, or HERO camera batteries simultaneously
Bare drysuit trek boots designed for rocky shore entries, boat decks, and boat ladders
Bare drysuit drawstring scuba gear bag the perfect alternative for transporting a dry suit to-and-from the dive site
Diving lens filter kit for GoPro HERO 5/6 which enhances colors for underwater video and photography conditions
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.
Black Mares Cruise Roller Tauchen bag, perfect for scuba diving and traveling
DUI heavy duty dry suit gloves with yellow liners available in sizes: S, M, L, XL
Capture amazingly smooth GoPro footage in the air with the GoPro Karma Drone
Compact underwater scuba diving hand reel with a 150ft of white line on the spool
Bare Sports 5mm men’s wetsuit made with elastek full-stretch nylon-2 and neoprene celliant liner infrared technology.