Jacques Cousteau reportedly rated Powell River's diving as second only to the Red Sea in terms of abundant, colourful marine life.
That reputation continues to attract cold-water scuba divers to the Sunshine Coast for year-round boat diving and shore diving at affordable rates. Some of the best conditions are in winter when the ocean is at its clearest.
Where to start among the 100-plus local dive sites? One of the area's signature shore dives is the "Emerald Princess," a 2.7m/9ft bronze mermaid statue in Mermaid Cove at Saltery Bay Provincial Park (near the Saltery Bay ferry terminal). It's submerged 15m/50ft underwater near a wrecked rowboat. The site also offers sheer walls and cliffs for advanced, technical divers, who can go as deep as 60m/200ft. Watch for giant Pacific octopi, lingcod, sponges, and other creatures.