When most people think of scuba diving, they think of sandy beaches and 95 ℉ weather. While tropical waters certainly have their fair share of beautiful dive locations, if you overlook colder spots, you’ll miss out on some amazing views. Cooler waters are home to different species of marine life and corals that you wouldn’t be able to explore in the tropics. Here are five cold water scuba destinations to check out when you want some variety in your diving life.
1. British Columbia, Canada
The water in British Columbia averages around 50℉. These waters are home to Steller sea lions, many of whom are friendly and love to swim with divers. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter a Giant Pacific Octopus. Beyond the animal sights, you can also find tons of gorgeous species of coral and sponges that give you a sea of color on the ocean floor.
2. Channel Islands, California
Channel Islands’ water temperature averages around 60℉. Here, you can find 80-foot kelp forests that serve as the backbone to this marine ecosystem. Colorful species of coral, sea anemones, and sponges line the walls and floor. The Channel Islands are known as one of the most popular places to see sea lions, seals, and whales.
3. South Island, New Zealand
Water temperatures in the South Island of New Zealand average about 63℉. New Zealand is one of the most popular dive sites in the world, known for its amazing sub-tropical reefs and abundant marine life. With everything from the black coral of Fjordland to the fur seals of Kaikoura, South Island has something for every diver.
4. Kangaroo Island, Australia
The average water temperature at Kangaroo Island is 60℉. Kangaroo Island is famous for the Leafy Sea Dragon, a rare fish that camouflages itself as seaweed. It is also home to many kinds of soft coral and sponges. Lucky divers may encounter seals, as well as dolphins on their dives at the island.
5. Inian Islands, Alaska
Waters in the Inian Islands average around 50℉. The highlight of these chilly waters is a “living wall” covered in vibrant corals, sponges, and anemones. This wall also attracts larger marine life such as Giant Pacific octopuses, sea lions, and wolf eels.
If you’re looking to branch out and explore new marine ecosystems, cold water diving would be an awesome addition to your diving portfolio. But just because the waters may be chilly doesn’t mean that you don’t need sunscreen! Be sure to pick a mineral-based sunscreen that is safe for the coral reefs that you love to explore.