The Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Canada, is a place where the sea is cold and murky in summer, and colder yet clearer in winter. Despite these conditions, the rich marine environment of British Columbia attracts divers who consider bad visibility and bulky drysuits to be no obstacle. This means there are plenty of dive schools in the province’s larger cities, and learning to scuba dive in a place like British Columbia will thoroughly prepare you for easier conditions farther south.
Investigate the local scuba shops and their associated schools, as well as any private instructors in your area of British Columbia. If you need to attain Open Water (OW) certification quickly, use the shops’ websites and some phone calls to find the shops that cooperate with the e-learning program offered by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). This allows you to complete your coursework at home, and then complete the necessary training dives in as little as one weekend. You will be required to submit an RTSC form stating you are in good health and free of compromising medical conditions, such as heart disease or asthma.
Invest in a rash guard top or shorty suit and a pair of wool socks just for diving. Water temperatures around British Columbia never climb out of the chilly lower 50s Fahrenheit, and sometimes drop as low as the mid-40s Fahrenheit even in the summer. Your dive class will include the necessary 7-mm semi-drysuit or drysuit to endure these cold waters, but a few extra touches will keep your warmer.
Ask your diving instructor about where your four open water training dives, all necessary for OW certification, will take place. If you have a particular interest, you may be able to make requests for a suitable dive site to meet them. If you want to see the big octopi of British Columbia, the South Islet of Passage Island is an easy dive site with octopi, a sandy bottom and moderate depths, so it is suitable for training.
Confirm your diving skills by signing on for more dives via dive shop-organized boat dives or shore dives immediately after finishing your OW course. British Columbia mixes challenging diving conditions and a rich marine environment, making it a golden opportunity for further practice. If you master your basic OW skills in 45-degree Fahrenheit water and 15-foot visibility, both normal for a Vancouver summer, you will be well-prepared for the much warmer, clearer conditions of Thailand, the Florida Keys or the Red Sea.