There’s a special place in my heart for Whytecliff park, a place where bikini clad sun bathers share the beach with scuba divers that are layered in fleece under their drysuits and ready for some temperate water diving.
Whytecliff Park is a marine protected area in West Vancouver, near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. The park has two main areas; there is a large grassy picnic area lined with tall trees and a great concession stand. The second area of Whytecliff consists of a sandy beach, large rocks to climb, and an island that is accessible only at low tide.
The park is very popular during the warmer months, and is usually packed with families and tourists if the sun is shining. The combination of rocky ocean landscape, sandy beach, and grassy fields means that the park can provide a variety of different experiences.
The beach is in a small bay and is usually protected from large choppy waves. Harbour seals can often be spotted popping their heads up curiously during the summer months, and sea stars and sea weeds can be seen during low tide. On the left of the bay is an island that becomes accessible during low-tide, and to the right is a very large and climbable rock.
While I do love to enjoy a BBQ or climb the rocks at Whytecliff, I have only ever been there with the intention to scuba dive. Whytecliff is where I took my drysuit specialty course, and is very popular for diving courses and new divers. The bottom of the bay has a slow sloping decline, making it an easy site to navigate and a shallow site to teach in.
The marine life in B.C. is great because new divers are thrilled by the sight of a stunned looking rock fish and piles of sea stars, while divers who have dove Whytecliff park many times can enjoy the thrill of slowly recognizing new creatures like the hard-to-spot grunt sculpin. Around the right wall of the bay the depth drops suddenly and there is a wonderful deep wall dive for advanced divers. Decorator crabs peek out from clusters of cloud sponges at about 90 feet deep.
Divers often tire of the scenery at Whytecliff and are eager to explore one of the many other sites around the B.C coast. However, even after dozens and dozens of dives at Whytecliff, I will always enjoy going back because I am familiar with navigation and the marine life is always changing.
My friend and dive mentor Ab made this video. It is short and a great example of some of the marine life you can see at Whytecliff park.