Diving in Tobermory

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The Shipwreck Diving Capital of Canada”

Ask divers about Tobermory from outside Canada and their answer may be “but the water is cold there.” They’re right, but Lake Huron’s cold, crystal waters have been generous to preserving the shipwrecks there, which allows perfect diving, visibility and definitely the haven of an underwater photographer! Tobermory is regarded as Canada’s scuba diving capital, and is considered to be the best the Great Lakes can give for diving.

Diving in Tobermory
Photo Credit: Government of Canada

The water temperature in summer is about 15 ° C (60 ° F) at the surface. Divers should note the presence of a thermocline between 30 and 40 ft where the temperature drops by 12 ° C (10 ° F). One of the features of the Great Lakes is the presence of a second thermocline at approximately 60-70 ft where there is an additional drop in temperature resulting in a cold dive at this depth. Divers are advised when diving to wear a 7 mm wet suit with a hood, gloves and boots or a dry suit with thermal underwear.

Tobermory is situated at the top of the Bruce Peninsula, a lakeside town surrounded by crystal blue waters, the magnificent Niagara Escarpment and is home to Flowerpot Island along with two national parks. Besides diving, there are many other activities to partake in including cottaging, kayaking, canoeing, hiking the Bruce Trail or taking a cruise to Flower Pot Island. Finish your day with an amazing sunset! The Chi-Cheemaun ferry calls Tobermory home and provides transportation across Lake Huron between Tobermory and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. The ferry holds 648 passengers and 143 vehicles, including room for large highway vehicles such as buses and transport trucks.

Many shipwreck treasures in Tobermory are protected by Fathom Five National Marine Park. Fathom Five, Canada’s first national marine park, was established in 1987, and comprises 45 square miles of 20 islands and 22 shipwrecks.

All divers must register at Fathom Five National Park and purchase a dive pass from the Visitor Center or one of Tobermory’s dive shops (Divers Den) before they dive. No registration or snorkeling permit is required (diver’s passes not available this year from Diver’s Den)

Diving in Tobermory
Sweepstakes Freedive: Photo Credit: Carly Brenner Hunter

Big Tub and Little Tub are popular dive attractions right inside the harbour. Diving in the actual Tobermory harbours is forbidden. Visitors are asked to respect private property rights and the landowners adjacent to them and be advised that tour boats travel the shipwreck area of Big Tub. All divers must remain within 30 metres (100 feet) of a displayed dive flag. The special operational procedures for this location must be observed by divers.

Big Tub Harbour has Sweepstakes – schooner (20 foot dive), City of Grand Rapids- steamer (15 foot dive) and Big Tub Lighthouse Point (75 foot wall dive) for divers to enjoy.

Little Tub Harbour has the “Tugs” (wreckage of four small steam tugs Alice G, Robert K, John & Alex, unidentified) and sits in 40 feet of water. This is a perfect place for divers and snorkelers alike. It is famous for open-water check-outs and for those who wish to watch divers practicing. Site plan maps are available at the Diver Registration Office for this site.

18 more shipwrecks (Arabia, City of Cleveland, Forest City, James C. King, Niagara II, Wetmore and the Newaygo to name a few) await your arrival in Tobermory to dive.

Diving in Tobermory
Wetmore Anchor: Photo Credit: Carly Brenner Hunter

Tobermory has something unique in that, due to all the islands that protect the sites, there’ll always be somewhere to dive. There is a chain of small, uninhabited islands and divers are reminded of being in the open sea.

Read About Duck Island Light House at Manitoulin Island from The Scuba News Canada

Tobermory is home to a hyperbaric chamber, motels, bed and breakfasts, an assortment of restaurants and cabins to rent. Reservations are recommended in the peak summer months.

Diver’s Den in Tobermory is a diver’s full service shop. Offering rental gear, dive classes and charter excursions, Mike & Kelly Marcotte (Owners) will make your diving experience a memorable one. Serving Divers since 1967.

Thanks to Carly Brenner Hunter (All things Underwater for Cinema) for her photos and video.

The Scuba News Canada will be featuring some of Tobermory’s shipwrecks in the future. Stay tuned!

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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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