Freediving Ontario is an incredible experience. I grew up in this province, and while I was a kid I had no idea of the opportunities available in my own backyard. Ontario is full of amazing underwater locations, specifically around the Georgian Bay/Lake Huron regions. Today, I’m starting this blog off with some of my favorite dive locations. While I won’t go into too much detail on exact locations, I will share some of my favorite spots that I enjoy diving.
I think it’s important to not share too much in terms of exact locations because it takes away the secrecy, personal exploration, and satisfaction of exploring. When I travel, I do plan to hit certain locations, but I also enjoy just setting off on an uncharted adventure. That’s something that is lacking in today’s society where we all desire instant gratification. But, I digress.
The number one spot in Ontario for freediving is Tobermory. There’s not even a debate to be had, this location is arguably the best in Canada. Tobermory is a small town on tip of the Northern Bruce Peninsula. It lies 300 kilometres northwest of Toronto and is easily accessible if you’re up for the drive.
The peninsula holds some of the most pristine turquoise fresh water on the planet, offering 100-200 feet of visibility in the clearest seasons and days. The 1,000 year old pine trees line the shorelines with large limestone cliffs that fall into the water. It’s an iconic Canadian landscape.
The main harbour of Tobermory holds amazing underwater views and small wooden shipwrecks, which are easy to explore for the novice diver or snorkeler. If you have boat access you can also explore outer wrecks like the Arabia, Niagara II, the Forest City and others.
Without a doubt, Tobermory is my favorite location to dive all year round.
The second spot on this list is Lions Head. While I love Tobermory, Lion’s Head is very similar and a close second place. Lion’s Head is a small town about half way up the Bruce Peninsula, and a half hour south of Tobermory. Massive limestone cliffs line the horizon and make up Lions Head Provincial Park.
Diving along that shoreline has brought awesome memories and moments. From exploring the large underwater boulders that have fallen off the cliffs above, to swimming along the Caribbean-like sand bottom, it offers a lot. We’ll also encounter various species of fish in the summer including whitefish, carp, bass, and others. It simply exceeds the average understanding of what most people think Ontario looks like. And it is an awesome freediving location.
I grew up exploring the lakes of Muskoka. My grandparents own a cottage on a small lake connected into Lake Joseph, and so I was privileged to be able to learn how to swim, wakeboard, sail, drive boats, kayak, and canoe there.
As a kid I also learned how to snorkel and ‘freedive’ there. I put that in quotations as I really didn’t know what I was doing, but technically I was freediving when I went down to the bottom, held onto rocks, and held my breath.
More recently however, I have discovered the beauty of diving deep in these lakes. The water is dark, cold, and a little unnerving at certain depths. But the surface temps offer warmth and the ability to completely relax before a deep attempt. The deepest I’ve ever dived was 40 meters (132 feet) and I made that record in Lake Joseph. Around 15 meters down the water goes completely black, and all I saw was the dive line with my flashlight in hand. There was something strangely calming about the experience though. I felt like I was in my own little bubble, effortlessly sinking to the bottom of the line.
I’m keen on running some diving retreats here next summer, which may also involve the opportunity to waterski, wakeboard and other things. So stay tuned for that!
That’s all I’ve got for now. Hopefully you guys can get out there and explore our beautiful province. There’s amazing things to see despite what most people think. Or if you’re in the states or elsewhere, perhaps there is water around you that has yet to be fully explored.
I love to get out there and explore new locations, especially places that most aren’t willing to go to. The remoteness and quiet found in those places is hard to beat. Ontario is still full of those places, and it is an incredible location for freediving.
Until next time, keep striving.