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CoolDives Blog

Nootka Sound Scuba Tourism - Historical and Wonderful

Nootka Sound, also known as Friendly Cove, is the historical beginning of British Columbia.

It is also now being discovered again, but this time as British Columbia's best (yet relatively undiscovered) secret scuba tourism sites.

Scuba tourism, a fast growing recreational trend with adventure seekers and regular tourists alike, is a unique combination of:

- great scuba diving (of course)

- areas and sites of historical significance both above and below the water (Captain Cook first came ashore here)

- areas and sites of cultural significance (First nations cultural/heritage sites)

- Other related activities, such as eco-tourism, sight seeing, whale watching, ocean kayaking, fishing, wilderness and wildlife tours, cultural tours and more.

Located on the beautiful, rugged, west coast of Vancouver Island, near the historical cities of Gold River and Tahsis, Nootka Sound has all of the above.

If you are looking for an eco-adventure trip of a life-time, then Friendly Cove is worth the travel adventure to get here.

As you can see on the map, Tahsis is also near the great dive areas of Campbell River, Powell River, and Port Hardy.

You could easily spend a week visiting, exploring and diving in some of the best dive sites in the world, here on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

Diving in Nootka Sound - Historical and Wonderful

According to John Rawlings, an expert diver, photo journalist and editor of Advanced Diver magazine, this area of British Columbia is a cold-water dive destination whose underwater beauty rivals that of any location on Earth. It is an Underwater Photographer's Paradise.

In ADM's recent free e-zine, John wrote another great article, this time about the diving in Nootka Sound.

My favorite dive site up in Nootka Sound is actually fairly close to Tahsis.

Mozino Point is a huge site - you can dive there several times and never see the same area twice unless you wish to do so.

The colors are simply breathtaking!

Mozino Point is a spot where you can see Cloud Sponges, Gorgonian Corals, and blankets of strawberry anemones that will blow your mind.

Other dive sites that I enjoyed at Nootka are "Boulder Alley", "The Zoo", and "Shark Point"

There are currently many dive sites for all levels of divers in Nootka Sound, and new sites are being discovered and added to the available dives daily.

In addition to the dive sites enjoyed by John, you can try Esperanza Wall.

Dive reviews will be added by myself and others as I build this site. If you have already dove here, please send in your simple dive review for others to read.

A recommended dive charter operator in the area is Tahtsa Dive Charters, ran by local residents Jude and Scott Schooner.

In addition to their daily dive charters, they have a small scuba dive shop that carries a few replacements such as mask and fin straps, zipper wax and a full line of scuba rental equipment (no dry suits though), a point and shoot camera, as well as single and double kayaks.

They also have air and nitrox fills, teach Open Water dive courses (Scuba Diving International (SDI)certification), and provide dive guide and divemaster services.

They are extremely knowledgeable of the area, and also offer incredible adventure and wildlife tours, where you can experience:

Historical/Cultural Tours - Explore BC History & First Nations Culture in beautiful Friendly Cove. One of the most popular cultural sites in the area is the Village of Yuquot, locally known as Friendly Cove.

This is the historic site where Chief Maquinna and the Mowachatit / Muchalaht people invited Captain James Cook ashore in 1778.

Cook was the first European to set foot on what was to become British Columbia.

Visitors to Yuquot have the opportunity to meet some of the friendliest, most hospitable people you’ll find anywhere!

There are few tourist destinations in the world that can offer the amazing cultural, historical and natural experience that awaits visitors to Yuquot / Friendly Cove.

Bear, Whale and Wildlife Viewing Tours - There are many opportunities to view wildlife on a Tahtsa Charters Adventure / Eco Tour.

Black Bears can be found on many of the beaches, searching for crabs at low tide. In the Fall they actually walk the streets of Tahsis!

Their experienced operators are expert at silently gliding near the shoreline to offer you the opportunity to view bears in their natural habitat, safely and with the least amount of disturbance for the bears.

Sows (female bears) with cubs will often play and forage on the beach in plain view, obviously feeling no threat from their silent spectators.

In addition to Orca whales, stunning Esperanza Inlet is an excellent place to look for Gray and Humpback whales.

Whale watching is fun and easy when the whales are sleek and relaxed, leisurely feeding in the Inlet on their long passage north.

You may also see sea lions roaring and jostling amongst the jagged rocks to find their space in the boisterous crowd.

Pay close attention to the kelp beds and you could observe rafts of cheeky sea otters eating and grooming or sleeping.

And don’t forget to look up occasionally; you won’t believe the bird watching including (if we’re lucky) magnificent Bald Eagles diving down, talons outstretched, to snatch an unwary salmon from the waves.

All reasons why more and more people are making the journey to Nootka Sound every year.

Getting to Nootka Sound

As I mentioned above, it is an adventure paradise in this rugged, west coast wilderness area. And it also can be a bit of an adventure getting here to dive in Nootka Sound.

There are both regularly scheduled flights and charter flights to Vancouver Island from Vancouver or Seattle.

If you’re coming to Tahsis by scheduled plane service the closest commercial airport is in Campbell River. You will need to make arrangements for a car rental from there.

If you’re chartering a floatplane you can arrange to fly directly into Tahsis with Coril Air, Harbour Air, or Vancouver Island Air.

If you are driving in, the road from Gold River to Tahsis is a good gravel road and normal driving time is about 1 1/2 hours.

Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet are also easily accessible by boat from Tahsis.

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