When you think of Manitoba, SCUBA diving is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Agreed it is not the most popular destination – and no it doesn’t have Caribbean waters and all-inclusive resorts lining the beaches – but there are some amazing experiences to be had!
Most of the more popular dives sites are 1.5-4 hours outside of Winnipeg.
Diving in Manitoba is not tropical and full 7MM wetsuits, hoods and gloves or dry suits are required to keep warm under water. While the surface temperature of the water is warm in mid Summer, there is a definite ‘thermocline’ where the cooler bottom water sits and we will be going below this level.
Our typical ‘Open Water’ dive season runs from May-December, though the later months are only for the strong-willed.
Manitoba also has something to offer that many other places worldwide cannot, Ice Diving. Since we are ‘blessed’ with Manitoba winters the lake will freeze over allowing us to ice dive during the off season. A special certification is required to go ice diving, and we have had many adventurous souls travel from all over the world for the experience!
Created by a pre-historic meteor impact, West Hawk Lake is the deepest lake in Manitoba, with depths greater than 370′ (110 metres) at the centre. Even if you had certification to go deeper than the recreational limits, you do need boat access to find these depths. 130′ (40m) is attainable from shore of the main dive site but most of the site stays well within 90′.
The main dive site – named Cat’s Ass (…we’ll give you some insight on a few reasons that may be, in our briefing at the site) is inside the West Hawk Lake Campground Section A. (see diver symbol on the campground map below).
Above the water at the dive site entrance, the rocky shoreline shows a mirror image of the underwater terrain. Around the site, there are some gently sloping sandy bottoms and areas with gorgeous rocky walls. Under the water, there are a few ‘landmarks’ to catch your attention, we may even see small mouth bass or sucker fish that frequent the training dock. Check out the pictures in our Gallery!
The West Hawk Lake town site has a few restaurants to grab a bite to eat and several places to stay. If camping in the campground is not for you, we can recommend West Hawk Lake Resort (1, 2, or 3 bedroom cabins) or Crescent Beach cottages (motel rooms and cabins) as great places to stay.
Located within the campground, Miller beach is another popular destination for local divers. With its shore entry into a gradual sloping bottom, there are lines set up as a reference as well as ‘landmarks’ and wooden platforms. This is not a controlled site, meaning there are not marker buoys set up, so there is boat traffic overhead and it is recommended to dive pulling a surface float.
A more advanced dive site, Mackenzie Beach has a dive site just East of the campground. With a very long, shallow walk out you’ll want to stick to the East (right) side to avoid the majority of boat traffic. After about a 5 minute surface swim out, there is a more gradual slope followed by rock ‘stairs’ that quickly lead you to depth. Again not a controlled site, so it is recommended to dive pulling a surface float.
Though the name sounds promising, this limestone lake has beautiful coloured waters but the visibility is lessened by the ‘milky’ visibility.