The sheltered waters of the Gulf Islands in British Columbia are teeming with inter-tidal and marine life and boast some of the best cold-water diving in the world. Salt Spring Island offers a number of popular dive sites. If you’re not prepared for scuba diving, snorkelling allows you to venture off calm Gulf Island shores to view shallow-water marine life, including crabs, sea stars, kelp, mussels, and nudibranches.

Divers frequent the waters at Beaver Point off Ruckle Park, drifting among the castle-like caves or floating above the bountiful ocean floor, where they will find a profusion of plumose, anemones, sponges, nudibranches, octopuses, seastars and giant barnacles. Stay in the boat if you’re a beginner diver; only experienced divers should explore off the point.

Popular dive sites include Patey Rock, North Reef off Parminter Point at the northern end of the island, and Seabright Beach off Russell Island on the southern end of Salt Spring. A boat dive in Burgoyne Bay provides good opportunities to view octopuses sheltering in their caves at about 20 metres (60 feet).

Divers can explore sunken wrecks at nearby Princess Margaret Marine Park (Gulf Islands NPR) on Portland Island, located between Salt Spring Island and the Pender Islands. The site features the G.B Church, a 53-metre-long coastal freighter that was sunk as artificial reef in 1991. The marine park is also a favoured kayaking destination.