I'm in a high-voltage current, 30 feet down, turned around backward and looking up at a grand vista. In the ambient light, there are patches of beautiful orange gersemia corals and white plumose anemones, with a basket star and a moon jellyfish hidden among them. The palette of colors in this long, narrow passage--a checkerboard mix of pinks, whites and greens--and the invertebrate life covering every square foot of the wall are what make this dive amazing. It's an invertebrate heaven here, with all kinds of Northwest species feeding on the plankton the currents bring in for them to feed on. Diving the Pacific Northwest means the colors fade quickly, even in the shallows. So if you're not carrying a light, you're missing out.
"It's usually drab and foggy on the surface, so you're surprised to see so much color in a place you wouldn't expect to see it."
The spectacular western Canadian province is gorgeous from top to bottom and its claim to having the world's best temperate climate diving is hard to dispute. From anemone-carpeted rocks crawling with marine life to weird and wonderful creatures like nudibranchs and wolf eels, this is your destination. To get to Browning Pass, you'll need to get to Port Hardy, B.C. That means a long haul by land and ferry from your flight gateway, Vancouver or Seattle. If you're coming from the east coast, Air Canada offers nonstops from JFK to Vancouver (YVR) for about $450, while United's nonstop round-trips there from Los Angeles are $385 and $530 from Chicago. Flying into Seattle from these cities means a $100 savings, but will add almost three hours to your drive time to Port Hardy. If you're driving from Vancouver, you'll need to take Highway 1 West to Horseshoe Bay, then park yourself and your car on a ferry to Nanaimo. From there, take Hwy 19A and Hwy 19 to Port Hardy. The total travel time, with drives and ferries included, from Vancouver to Port Hardy is about 6.5 hours. If you're driving from Seattle, take Interstate 5 North, then cross the border and head to the ferry terminal at Tsawwassen. Take BC Ferries to Nanaimo and follow the driving directions above. To learn more, visit vancouverislanddive.com.