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Diving in Manitoba

Diving in Manitoba

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!

Price: $49 (includes 1 dive with tank and weight)

Sometimes getting away to travel for diving can be difficult (you haven’t forgotten about 2020 yet, have you?) so exploring what Manitoba has to offer underwater is a chance to keep your gills wet.

If you are a certified diver we would be more than happy to set you up with one of our divemasters to explore West Hawk Lake*.

Rental equipment is an additional cost; we have all required pieces available or full packages set up.

Not sure if you’ll be comfortable with the added equipment?  We can also offer you a Scuba Refresher to be completed in the shallows of West Hawk to get your groove, then jump back in for a second dive to explore the site!  Additional fees will apply.

Contact us for more information!

*Please contact us if you were interested in exploring other lakes in Manitoba, additional fees may apply.

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.

Download the PDF of the Campground map

Location: Whiteshell Provincial Park

Accessibility: Vehicle, near Section A of campground

Experience Level: All levels

Infrastructure: Rocky, shore entry

Maximum Depth: 130ft/ 40m

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Altitude: 1080ft/ 329m

Controlled Site: Yes

Location: Whiteshell Provincial Park

Accessibility: Vehicle, near

Experience Level: All levels

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Altitude: 1080ft/ 329m

Controlled Site: NO, dive with surface marker buoy

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.

Location: Whiteshell Provincial Park

Accessibility: Vehicle,

Experience Level: Advanced, due to quick drop to depth

Infrastructure: Long, shallow snorkel swim leads to a gradual slope and rock stairs descending quickly to depth

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Altitude: 1080ft/ 329m

Controlled Site: NO, dive with surface marker buoy.  Stick to the East (right) side to avoid majority of boat traffic.

Location: Riding Mountain National Park – off Highway 10

Accessibility: Vehicle via access road on North West of Clear Lake golf course

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Infrastructure: Rocky, shore entry

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Altitude: 2100ft/ 640m above sea level

Controlled Site: NO, dive with surface marker buoy

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Infrastructure: Sloping, sandy bottom

Maximum Depth: 158ft/ 48m

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Fish Species: Pickerel, trout and mariah

Altitude: 2300ft/ 700m above sea level

Controlled Site: NO, dive with surface marker buoy

Childs Lake has been home to the Dauphin Dolphins Spearfishing Contest for over 25 years. The lake can be reached from the east entrance of the park near Garland north of Dauphin on Highway 10 or from the south and west through San Clara north of Roblin.

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The Blue Lakes of Duck Mountains can be reached from Dauphin by taking Highway 10 north to Garland and proceeding westerly for 32 km along PR. 367. Approaching from the west, these lakes are approximately 18 km east of Childs Lake. Depths in West Blue Lake range to approximately 60 feet in the north and up to 100 feet in the south central. The southern end of the lake is relatively shallow with a maximum depth of approximately 45 feet.

Shore access is limited to the north end of the lake and the area adjacent to the campground. Note that internal combustion engines are not allowed on the lake. East Blue Lake has a maximum depth in excess of 200 feet. The visibility in East Blue Lake is generally superior to West Blue and the latter is more subject to algae blooms in late summer.

Both lakes have generally sandy to silty bottoms so care must be taken to avoid stirring up bottom sediments. The sharpest drop-off to be found in these lakes is along the east shore of East Blue where depths in excess of 60 feet can be quickly reached. Both lakes are home to numerous fish species with perch, pike and walleye predominant in West Blue and various trout, splake and perch in East Blue. Beaver lodges are found in both lakes and make for interesting observation.

East Blue Lake is known to be spring-fed. Including a visit to one of the springs during your dive is highly recommended. A provincial campground, with unserviced sites, is in operation between May and October. A general purpose store provides essentials. Boat motor and canoe rentals are available. When diving these lakes, remember they are around 2300 feet above sea level. Therefore, make appropriate corrections for altitude diving.

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The Perch Lake of Duck Mountains can be reached from Dauphin by taking Highway 10 north to Garland and proceeding westerly for 32 km along PR. 367 and then north along PR. 366 approximately 8km from the Blue Lakes, on the east side. Depths in Perch Lake range to up to 65 feet in the north end and around 20 feet in the south end.

Shore access is limited to the south west corner of the lake. There is no campground; however, there is a dock. The lake is well sheltered on windy days, and as such is popular with fishermen, so use of the diver down flag is essential. The lake is home to numerous trout and small mouth bass. A beaver lodge is found on the west side.

When diving this lake, remember it is around 2300 feet above sea level. Therefore, make appropriate corrections for altitude diving.

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Controlled Site: NO, dive with surface marker buoy

Gordon Lake is located north of Highway 17 some 32 km west of Vermilion Bay and about 40 km east of the junctions of Highways 71 and 17. The turn off is clearly marked and the gravel road to the camping area, approximately 9.5 km away, is generally in good condition. The camping area is basic. Some areas have been levelled and are suitable for larger RV’s. A boat launch is maintained and two separate small beaches provide ideal swimming areas. Outhouses are in place but no other facilities are to be found. Bring all necessities including drinking water. Dive sites on Big Gordon are only accessible by boat.

Site A

The Big Island is located about 1/2 of the way across the lake towards the southeast from the campground. Three distinct dives are recommended from the Big Island.
The Southwest Side –
This site is primarily shelves and ledges with some smooth gently sloping rock bottom. Primarily a shallow site (< 40 feet) it is reputed to be an excellent night dive. The rock
ledges on shore provide a convenient staging area.
The Southeast Side –
Similar to the Southwest Side.
The North Side –
An interesting wall is found towards the west end of the site. It is well marked above the waterline by the sheer cliff face rising from the water. Many large boulders add to the
underwater relief and provide hiding places for suckers and larger perch. Small perch are generally abundant. A great variety of dive profiles can be planned as depths in excess of 80 feet are readily attainable.

Site B

A reef extends from the point on the western mainland towards the Big Island. This is a relatively shallow dive that offers a flat rocky bottom for those interested in seeking out smaller freshwater creatures.

Site C

A rocky point extending below the waterline provides protection to a small harbour perfect for small boats. The shelf above the waterline makes an ideal staging area for diving along this stretch of shoreline. Interesting diving in either direction from this starting point. Numerous perch, sloping walls and some boulders.

Site D

Large boulders form swim-throughs and recesses at depth. A steep cliff face above the waterline marks this site as does the large amount of rock rubble poking above the lake surface below the cliff. While not an extensive site, the boulders are impressive and make this dive a necessity. Large numbers of perch are common above the thermocline and lake trout have been sighted below the thermocline.

Site E

This site lies to the north of the above site and is also marked by a sheer cliff face above the waterline. This is primarily a wall dive.

Site F

The Little Island
This island is small enough to be circumnavigated in a single dive. The prominent geological feature of this site is a series of ledges dropping off on the south side. The west side tends to be shallow, with a sandy bottom. This dive site is best as a shallow second dive or perhaps a night dive. Approach with caution as there are many rocks at the waterline.

Site G

A series of ledges quickly leads the diver to depths in excess of 80 feet – watch your depth gauge and buoyancy control. Similar dive profiles can be found in several spots along this unassuming shoreline. The lack of distinct features on shore makes the exact site difficult to pinpoint.

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Controlled Site: NO, dive with surface marker buoy

Blue (or Flavus) Lake is located adjacent to the Blue Lake Provincial Park campground some 9 km northeast of Vermilion Bay, on Highway 647. The campground has all the amenities, including electrical hook-ups and showers. A boat launch, beach and hiking trails plus a store with canoe and boat rentals are all within minutes of any campsite. The lake is typified by clear water providing visibility ranging from 15 – 30 feet depending on the time of summer and weather conditions. The eastern shore is marked by a sandy bottom adjacent to the beach area and silty bottom along the rocky shoreline. The bottom contour is gently sloping and depths greater than 20 feet can only be attained by relatively lengthy excursions from shore. However, muskies can be found in the shallow weed beds right off the beach and make for interesting viewing. Bass are frequently sighted in the rocky areas to the north of the beach. The dive sites offering more variation in dive profile are located on the west side of the lake, making a boat necessary for access.

Site A

Directly opposite the beach, and across the lake, this site is marked by a rock face on the south side of the entrance to a small bay. The maximum depth here is about 35 feet, making this an excellent choice for a night dive. This area is home to numerable bass and crayfish. Rock walls and occasional boulders make up the underwater landscape.

Site B

An extensive reef lies some 100 m off the western shore and runs parallel to it. The reef can be accessed from Site A by taking a bearing on the store across the lake while under the cliff face at the north end of the site. Proceed on this bearing either on the surface or beneath for about 100m. If you exceed a depth of 40 feet, you have missed the reef. The reef is marked by a large expanse of intact rock and a considerable number of boulders. At one point the reef comes to within 5 feet of the surface. Again, this site is home to many bass and crayfish.

Site C

This site offers more variety in dive profiles as depths in excess of 50-60 feet can be attained without venturing over expanses of silt. However, Blue Lake is somewhat unique in that the visibility and clarity of the water decreases below the thermocline. A type of algae thrives in this environment making for somewhat soupy diving conditions. This site lies to the south of the previous two sites. The south end of the site can be located from the beach by the campground by taking a bearing on a white rock that is quite visible at the waterline. However, this makes a good staging area. Interesting diving can be found over a fairly extensive area to the north of this entry point. Again, bass are the dominant fish species. Short rock walls and boulders make an interesting profile for the dive.