Overview of Porteau Cove

Porteau Cove

Vancouver, BC


Porteau Cove should be renamed Diver's Paradise! The park system went all out to make this an appealing marine park for all levels of divers. Easy entry, marine life, marked wrecks, and a stair-side shower for your return make this site a two-tanker!

Directions: Heading North from Horseshoe Bay, after about 23km, you'll see the park on your left.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

08/24/2011 N. Richter (Avg: 2.87 Review) - Not a good experience. Visibility sucked as did fighting the current (11:30am) wasting all my air trying to get to the first orange buoy. Second dive, had to surface swim for at least 20 minutes to get out to far orange buoy. It shouldn't be that hard. Water was 18'C @ surface & 8'C at depth (40'). Wreck was cool with lots of growth, like white & orange Plumose Anemones. Large number of morning star fish, and sunflower star fish and Ling cods. Nice to have shower there when exiting water to rinse off. But area was packed. I guess I'm a warm water diver at heart.

06/06/2010 Neil Daley (Avg: 4.10 Review) - This is a fantastic park made for scuba divers! The concrete stairs into the water make for an extremely easy entry! I dove this site on 6/4/10 and loved the diversity of marine life. The plumose anemone almost completely cover on wreck. Also saw sea cucumbers, ling cod, sunstar and multiple other varieties of star fish. The current and wind were really strong so the surface swim was tough so be sure to time this one right. The zooplankton were also at the peak so the vis is not great in the summer - about 15 feet until you reach a depth of 30 feet and then the vis is better - about 25-30. The depth within the park is mostly 35-55 feet. The wooden hulled mine sweeper is no longer shown on the map but it is the furthest buoy out and starts in about 90 feet deep and goes to about 110. There is little left of it. There is a ton of life on the remains but the swim out a huge endeavor.

03/02/2010 Anonymous (Avg: 3.72 Review) - I wanted to provide updated instructions on how to find the Nakaya, as I had problems with what I found in my research. The Nakaya is a good dive, but I'd not recommend it to any novice/beginner divers due to the extreme surface swim, the deep depth, and the danger of the wreck itself. Directions to the Nakaya, starting from the stairs down to the water:
-Swim to the very last and very far white surface buoy on the extreme right (closest to shore).
-It is a long swim, about 320m using the ruler tool in Google Earth.
-Descend along the line from the buoy all the way to the bottom (depth about 25m).
-If you face a compass bearing of 30 degrees (or just ballpark North), and then turn 90 degrees to your left and start swimming, you'll run right into the Nakaya.
-The Nakaya is not far from the line. Maybe 20 or 30 feet. If you miss it for some reason, return to the line and try again.

09/13/2009 Tregrrr (Avg: 4.18 Review) - Diver Stairs = glorious unheated fresh water rinse shower at top of diver stairs = wonderful wrecks and diver amusement devices (artificial reef 'junk') = worked wonders fish abound There was a bit of a current on surface for second dive... easily mitigated by taking a bearing and hitting the bottom... I do not run out of air so prefer to bottom swim my surface swims whenever possible. Some seriously FAT and conceited Lingcod on this site... especially on (surprise surprise??) the BIG wreck. Only saw an arm of a G.P.Octopus. He was holed up tight, but those suckers were the size of $1 coins or better.... All in all, well laid out marine park with A-1 facilities nicely without much of the typical contrivance you find at some 'scuba parks' …IMHO

08/16/2009 Anonymous (Avg: 4.10 Review) - (No Comment)

08/12/2008 John (Avg: 4.06 Review) - (No Comment)

01/29/2007 EnjoysWater (Avg: 4.00 Review) - I did two tanks at Porteau Cove on 01-27-2007 (after one tank at Whytecliff). First, it does take a while to get all the way up to Porteau Cove. I suggest you have a good chunk of a day planned for diving. Afterward, the drive back to Seattle was loong. HOWEVER, it was well worth it. I believe Porteau Cove is the most southerly fjord in North America. Or maybe that was Whytecliff? Anyhow, lots of divers here, too -probably because it is a sweet site. It is next to a boat launch/ferry terminal thing. Huge parking lot, steps made just for divers, and there was a shower for divers in the summer. Driving there was easy, getting in the water was easy, swimming against the current/tidal exchange was not easy. We definitely planned poorly, in fact, had we waited half an hour we would have been golden. Another diver told us the Nakaya wasn't marked by a buoy anymore, and that it wasn't worth it (wooden minesweeper deteriorating). My friend from TWU said it was (he had dove it a month or two prior) so we set off swimming toward the farthest white buoy (number 5). Others (yellow) mark other wrecks/reef structures. Dropped down to 30 or 40fsw, took the heading we thought would put us there, but had no luck. We worked our way back toward the other buoys and dove the big steel tug/tanker ship. It was sweet, and we even got to penetrate into a large cargo hold type room. Adjacent to that was a "jungle gym"-- large i-beams or similar stacked/standing upright. And multiple other goodies: tires in a line led us to the "Leaning Tower of Porteau". We almost didn't do a second tank, but decided we had to find the Nakaya. Well, our friend did. So we swam back out much more quickly this time (no current = good…100+yd swim) and took a slightly more angled heading. After swimming to about 75-80fsw, we turned around quite upset (told it was between 60-90 fsw and the tide was out). Then we ran right into it (swam in a triangle). It was definitely wooden and definitely falling apart. But had the most fish and other critters on it out of any of the reefs at Porteau cove. They must prefer the natural wood over steel. Peering into holes in the side/top was great fun. And looking back at the whole ship from the tip of the bow was a great sight. It was definitely too dangerous to penetrate, and much of the entry points had debris or wooden sticks for impalement. From the last white buoy, take a heading of 30 degrees. That should put you into the old Nakaya anchor line, which still has a round buoy 10 feet under the surface holding most of the line up. From there go left (out/deeper) and you should run right into the Nakaya. On the way back to shore, we swam through the other reefs. If you are nearby or have a free Saturday, I would recommend Porteau Cove and Whytecliff Park as two great shore dives.

09/04/2006 Dave Stevenson (Avg: 3.85 Review) - On the way back to my car on September 3, I found a very expensive looking dive watch laying on the ground in the parking lot. If it were my watch I would be very upset to lose such a watch. If someone has lost this watch and is looking for it, please email with a description and I will happily return it.

03/24/2006 Rebecca Szendrei (Avg: 3.59 Review) - One of my favorite local places to dive, and I love the parking lot being right next to the water. I go with a bunch of friends and we make a day out of it. Take our BBQ, set it up beside the picnic tables that are right alongside the parking lot. It is very easy to get around with your gear. No hauling required. Had my best night dive there. Tonnes of crab and shrimp. Only problem with the location is vis is not very good a lot of the time; ok at approx 80 ft diving the Nakaya and very crowded sometimes with new divers which makes vis even worse. I always see something new with each dive and you can always depend on lots of sea life. Overall a very good diving experience.

07/20/2005 John Lenci (Avg: 4.09 Review) - It's always been good diving at Porteau. Reef is in great shape, the wreck are good. The Nakaya (Main Wreck) has been deteriorating over the years, but that is normal for a wooden wreck. I always love diving there.

05/24/2005 Ryan from Squamish (Avg: 3.69 Review) - Awesome experience! First time diving currently taking my OWC at sea with sky ocean sports (great people). Quite the experience being down there and seeing all the different life. The visibility was horrible until you got past the thermocline then it was like 20 ft. Went to the tire reef and some cement pipes. Saw lots of star fish of different sizes and all kinds of crabs. Lots of sea cucumbers, lots of dead brittle stars. The instructor said that's weird. Lots of nudibranch eggs, as well.

05/04/2005 Stacey (Avg: 3.58 Review) - This was a really fun site to dive. We were there on a weekday and there was virtually no one else there. We dove the Nakaya and the other wrecks which were still in good condition, and were covered with some monster lingcod. Beautiful color on this site. The bottom was loaded with brittle stars. Touched one to get them moving and a chain reaction started. Looked like the floor was moving. Some beautiful snakelock anemones, and even found a clown shrimp. Very nice dive!

04/05/2005 Alex in Montreal (Avg: 3.96 Review) - Very easy to get to, parking is $5 for the day. Facilities for changing and washrooms. Entry is via a set of stairs onto shallow gravel bottom. Quite a swim out to even the closer wrecks. Horrible visibility - less than 4 feet! The algae bloom has started. Other than that, certainly the site has potential, but in our dive to 50' we did not find much to enjoy! Anemones and sea stars galore, if only you could see them from more than 3' away.... will have to come back next winter!

02/23/2005 Chris Owens (Avg: 3.64 Review) - Great site, lots of small wrecks, just a long swim to get deep.

02/15/2005 Michael Potts (Avg: 3.25 Review) - I did this dive alone to the leaning tower of porteau cove at 20 ft. I noticed some really big fish following me around and trying to shoe me off. Dangerous fish? Good fun for a novice. Would like to go farther and deeper but I need a dive partner. Call if you want to go. Michael 604-830-5411.

01/29/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 4.56 Review) - Easy entry and exit, and every dive there is something different to see. Take your camera and enjoy!

07/27/2004 Greg (Avg: 3.46 Review) - I've dived here maybe fifteen times. Its getting a bit too crowded these days. Summer vis is usually not too good.

07/22/2004 Glen (Avg: 3.38 Review) - Two interesting wrecks to explore... Better in the winter when plankton blooms are not so much of a factor.

01/13/2004 Anonymous (Avg: 3.48 Review) - The surface water temperature was cold due to fresh water run off. The water was warmer at depth. Saw lingcod, greenling, shiner perch, tube snouts, sunflower stars, metridium anemones, brittle stars, a fish-eating sea star, crinoid sea stars. Definitely a place to visit again.

12/18/2003 Rather not say (Avg: 2.98 Review) - It was pretty cool!

12/02/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 4.85 Review) - Strong current, bring coins for the meter, cold water showers

03/09/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.09 Review) - The bottom is pretty ugly here; rusty metal, old tires and mud, but the wrecks and marine life make up for it. Plumose anemones, rockfish and big lingcod.

02/04/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.50 Review) - Great site for easy shore access to wrecks. Plenty of sea life with large Lingcod and Octopus being the main attractions.

12/18/2002 Stephen Scott (Avg: 3.57 Review) - A very nice dive. The visibility is much better in the winter than spring/summer. Lots of nice plant life to be found. Overall a good dive

09/17/2002 Nathan (Avg: 3.33 Review) - Very nice dive site. Easy to get to and easy to find. Dive is nicely marked out with buoys so you just have to follow the line down.

09/16/2002 Anonymous (Avg: 4.26 Review) - .

07/09/2002 Paul Kingery (Avg: 4.01 Review) - A wonderful park. Separate restroom facilities for divers with free hot water showers. A stairway leads down into the water which is great during high tide. Otherwise, you walk out quite a ways to the water. Nice wrecks underwater to look at. For a night dive you need a really good flashlight on top of the surface since there is very little surface light. The bio-luminescence is really fun to look at.

04/23/2002 Curt Johnson (Avg: 4.39 Review) - I dived this to see the minesweeper. As an old minesweep and destroyer sailor myself, I have availed myself to dive all of BC's artificial reefs. This one has the advantage of being accessible from the shore. I believe I covered all of the main features of the park in a single 55 minute dive. Lots of marine life - both fish and invertebrate. Good facilities with a very easy access. People from "away", such as me, will enjoy the drive along Howe Sound to the park. The mountain/fjord views are wonderful. This is definitely worth the trip and can be combined with other dives in the area.

12/16/2001 Mike at Langley (Avg: 4.21 Review) - great site. getting better every year! tire/concrete reef covered in life. GREAT night dive site, would give 6 if possible. stubby squid more often than not/octopus out of dens! real nice, but have to be out by 11pm or locked in and ticketed! also beware of "scuba Nazi" park ranger, has a definite dislike of divers. park only in designated spots, not camp sites or anywhere else or VERY DISAGREEABLE fellow will yell and ticket you. only one staff like this the rest are great.

11/12/2001 R Micallef (Avg: 3.68 Review) - Excellent site- The Nakaya is a great dive!


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: VA1401


Entrance at Porteau Cove 

You'd have to be blind to miss this entrance!


 Map     Sat
GPS: VA1402


Parking at Porteau Cove 

Upper level overflow parking still has amenities for divers!




Parking at Porteau Cove 

On most days, you will be able to park next to the water's edge. There is no need to carry your gear beyond your parking place.


 Map     Sat
GPS: VA1404


Entry at Porteau Cove 

Excellent stairway entry built just for divers. You can see the buoys in the background that mark the wrecks.




Entry at Porteau Cove 

Take time to check your gear. You'll slip easily into the water.




Sign at Porteau Cove 

Signs make it easy to Plan your Dive, and Dive your Plan!

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Porteau Cove  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.57
Bottom Conditions:  3.50
Reef Conditions:  3.93
Animal Life:  3.90
Plant Life:  3.10
Facilities:  4.20
Solitude 2.93
Roads:  4.17
*Site Average:  3.78

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.90
Beginner Scuba:  4.17
Intermediate Scuba:  4.17
Advanced Scuba:  3.97
Night diving Scuba:  3.77

Number of reviews for this site: 30


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