• Depth about 90 ft
This shore dive is in a local city park and is a popular place for walking and picnicking.
We go here every month with our open water students for their first two ocean dives. The site to dive here is either, the shallow bay directly to the right on the parking lot (Finn Beach), or there is another site from the second parking lot over the hill.
The second site is deeper and more divers prefer it.
It’s a fair walk with your gear out to the shore, but it is worth it as it’s an easy relaxing dive. In order to use the second parking lot (the one that’s on the other side of the big hill) you need to go to Bowen Park in Nanaimo and leave a deposit for the key for the lock on the gate from the Parks and Rec office. Once you’ve unlocked the gate, drive over the hill and park in the small parking lot (pictured below).
A walk to the dive site is a good idea before gearing up. From the parking lot follow the trail north, past the large dead tree (if you’re lucky, there may be an Eagle perched in it) and through the small cluster of trees and brush. From the parking lot, it’s the third foot trail on the right that leads you down to the beach to a large cut between two rocks. There is a sandbar which leads out to another rock that is exposed (expect for at higher tides). Normally we enter the water on the right side of the beach and swim out between the two large islands. Watch for surface current though and judge your dive on that. You may have to enter on the left and swim around the rock from left to right.
If you enter on the right on the sand bar and you’ve passed between the rocks, drop down and swim around the island on your left.
If you follow the small gorge where the urchins are you’ll come up at the beach where you entered the water. There is a longer route around the island, just bypass the urchins and follow the natural curve of the rocks. You’ll still come up at the beach; you’re just making a bigger circle around the island by bypassing the urchins.
This site is a sloping rocky wall, with a sandy bottom.
I’ve seen sea lions here on occasion. There’s plenty of fish here; greenlings, rockfish, cod, cabezons as well as some of the smaller guys like gobies. Lots of urchins, watch your buoyancy. Deeper down there are sea pens, octopus, stars, and by the beach at the end of the dive there is mostly sea grass and smaller creatures. We’ve liked this site for a dusk dive, as long as we’ve had enough light to see our way back to our vehicles.
Getting to this site
From our shop drive North on Mostar Rd, on the other side of the Island Hwy Mostar name changes to Rutherford Rd. Continue north of Rutherford Rd for 2.9 km. Turn right onto Hammond Bay Rd. Continue down Hammond Bay Rd for 3.9 km. Turn left onto Morningside Drive. This road leads into the park. Drive by the first parking lot. Near the top of a small hill is a single post with a lock on it. Unlock it and drive through to the parking lot.