Whytecliff Park Dive Site Profile
Whytecliff Park is located at the Western tip of West Vancouver, just South of Horseshoe Bay Village. It's a 15 minute drive from Lions Gate bridge. A favourite with picnickers, the park has ample parking, a concession stand and a change facility for divers. The main beach access is a short, steep vertical drop from the staging area.
The beach at Whytecliff Park is the most popular location around Vancouver for dive shop group classes, mainly because of the convenience and the bathrooms. This training area has very little sea life remaining, and a silty/sandy bottom. The best areas to dive are to the East and the West of the the main beach.
The main dive site for our students is reached in a 5-minute surface swim. It's an area bisected by a rocky ridge, part of which is visible at low tide. The area around the ridge and offshore boat marker features some interesting rock formations in shallow water, the remnants of an old marina, countless numbers of seastars, shells, urchins, some kelp and a variety of fish species. Depth in this area ranges from 15 feet/5m to about 40 feet/12m. The south end drops off to deep water.
To the West of the ridge is a sloping reef that becomes a near-vertical wall dive as you travel North. It's the main dive site for certified divers and for our private students when they have the necessary buoyancy control and swimming skills. There's a series of sandy underwater ledges at varying depths that go way beyond recreational dive limits. The site is a favourite spot for tec divers. Deeper dives feature large chimney, boot and cloud sponges, clusters of fish families, solitary ling cod, nudibranchs, and a variety of other invertebrates along with occasional sightings of octopus, wolf eel, grunt sculpin and cabezon. Shallower dives feature a great anemone garden, rockfish, ling cod, painted greenling and kelp greenling, urchins, seastars, brittle stars, crabs, sea cucumbers, squirts, nudis, and Red Irish Lords. There are usually resident seals around and sometimes they join the dive. I have encountered ratfish and migrating Pacific white-sided dolphins. Dogfish are common in the summer months.
Surface currents can get very strong here as water is funnelled through a bottleneck into Howe Sound on the rising tide, and there's often a thick plankton cloud in the summertime that reduces visibility to zero. But when conditions are right, it's a great dive site.
On the East side of the park, Whyte islet can only be circumnavigated at high tide, in a leisurely 40 minute dive. It features a sloping bouldery rock face with a max depth of about 50’/15m. Deeper dives to 100’/30m are more likely to encounter wolf eels and octopuses, which sometimes take up residence here.
For Advanced students and divers, the East side of the ridge is a perfect, sheltered 10m night dive and the West wall is ideal for deep diving.