Naomi Soman
Naomi Soman

Aug 19. 5 mins

5 REASONS TORONTO WILL BE YOUR NEW FAVORITE DIVING HUB

This friendly, bustling city is Canada’s largest metropolis, and it’s one that you certainly won’t want to miss as you travel through the Great White North. A city of hockey fanatics, coffee-addicts, and eclectic restaurateurs, this Niagara Falls neighbor has its own unique charm. Plus, the dive world of Toronto is a can’t miss.

Only a skip and a hop away from both Tobermory and the 1000 Islands, this city is a diver’s dream come true. Toronto is, indeed, full of opportunities for freediving, wall dives, and–thanks to the history of violent storms–fascinating shipwrecks.

Located right on the beautiful Lake Ontario, this popular hub might just become your favorite new vacation spot. The clear blue waters allow for up to 100’ of visibility in certain places, and though it’s certainly no barrier reef, this freshwater wonder boasts some of the most incredible maritime history in the world.

So without further ado, here are the top 5 reasons Toronto is the best place for your next diving vacation brought to you by International Diver.

  1. Scuba Diving in Toronto’s Lake Ontario:

What Lake Ontario may lack in tropical fish, it makes up for in shipwrecks and wall dives.
The cold temperatures in the Northeast allow for incredible visibility. Plus, because Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the Niagara and St. Lawrence River lead right out to the Atlantic Ocean, the stretch of water has served as a major shipping thoroughfare for centuries, which explains why so many have capsized there.

Better yet, because the water is so cold, many of them have been very well preserved, including some boats which sunk more than 150 years ago. In fact, you’ll find everything from 18th century schooners to modern canal lakers, cargo ships, and 700’ freighters.

Nearly all of the shipwrecks in the Great Lakes region have been documented on ShipwreckWorld, where you can read all about the ships, their crew, and why they went under. Most of the great sights are below 60’ though, so you’ll want to make sure you have good equipment and that you’ve obtained your Advanced Open Water certification beforehand.

Our favorite resource for diving in Ontario is Diveworld Canada. Diveworld Canada is your one-stop shop for all things diving related including snorkeling, spear fishing, fishing, free diving, or travelling. You can either stop by their dive shop to rent equipment or sign up for their diving classes, which cater to divers of all skill and experience levels.

You can also visit Diveworld Canada on their Instagram page@diveworldcanada, the images posted there were taken by Geoff Coombs. Geoff is a world-renowned photographer and Ontario native with an incredible talent for capturing the beauty of the natural world. If you’re on the hunt for some Torontonian dive-spiration, then you won’t want to miss his stunning underwater shots, which were taken right here in Ontario. More specifically, the ones you’ll see on this Instagram are from Tobermory, which we’ll get to in a moment.

In any case, here are some Lake Ontario wrecks you won’t want to miss:

Lady Washington:

This one-masted scow-sloop was travelling from Kingston to Niagara in November of 1803 with merchandise and groceries from East India when it braved a gale and capsized. Since sloops were quickly replaced by schooners, this ship may be the only of its kind in Lake Ontario and is quite probably the oldest commercial ship in the Great Lakes region.

Schooner Royal Albert:

The Canadian Schooner was transporting 285 tons of railroad iron but sank when its cargo shifted and the seams of the ship burst. This 158-year-old ship went down near the southern shore of Lake Ontario not too far from Fair Haven, NY. The ship’s crew almost went down with their ship the boat was filling so quickly with water, but thankfully, they were able to launch a yawl and sail to Oswego.

The wreckage is on the stern side, since it went down stern-side first. The masts have since fallen down, and you can find the main mast lying on the port side while the forward mast has fallen on the starboard side. The main mast’s boom is sitting across the cabin roof, and some of the cargo is still left on the ship.

U.S. Air Force C-45 Aircraft:

Usually a wreck implies a shipwreck, but this aircraft and its crew crashed in 1952 not too far from Oswego and sunk into Lake Ontario when one of its engines failed. The crew was headed to the Air Force Base outside of Rome, NY, but when the plane started losing altitude, the pilot told his passengers to parachute even though they had had no prior experience. Because they jumped from 2500’ though, the three officers and two civilians landed unscathed.

The plane flew another 65 miles on auto-pilot but eventually crashed into Lake Ontario as reported by the owner of Rudy’s Refreshment Stand. Besides the windshield, a propeller, a fiberglass nose cone, and part of the body behind the wing, the plane is almost entirely intact.

If you’re planning to head to Toronto for Lake Ontario scuba diving, you might also want to check out some of the coupons available on Groupon. There are always a variety of discount diving packages available that might make your trip a bit more affordable.

2. Tobermory & the 1000 Islands:

If you’re in Toronto anyway, you might as well take the time to visit the diving areas in the surrounding areas. In fact, you might even make a diving roadout of it.

Tobermoryis a lovely, little town located on the northern tip of the South Bruce Peninsula in Lake Huron. There are about 20 shipwrecks quietly waiting on the bottom of the lake for you to discover. Divers from all over the world travel here to explore the clear blue waters of the Fathom Five National Marine Park, which boasts rare orchid species, ancient rock formations, and a cliff-edge forest.

Alternatively, you could go east to tour the 1000 Islands. The St.Lawrence River, which divides Canada and the United States is full of fascinating shipwrecks and great diving spots. Though most people assume you have to hack through the ice with a chainsaw to dive here, locals know that the steamy summers and pleasant autumns in the area are perfect for navigating through shallow waters and scouting out sunken ships or abandoned island castles.

3. Out on the Town:

If you wanted to dive for months on end, you certainly could, but there’s plenty on land that you won’t want to miss.

The most iconic landmark in the area is, of course, the CN tower. Built in 1976, the engineering wonder was originally designed to improve reception in the Toronto metropolitan area. The 1960’s brought skyscrapers to Ontario, and Canadians found that the new establishments blocked the existing buildings from reception. Today, Torontonians enjoy some of the best reception in the Northeast from what that now mainly serves as a center for entertainment.

While you’re touring the city, you’ll also want to stop at Canada’s Wonderland. The nation’s premier amusement park, Wonderland will prove to be an adventure your family will never forget. With more than 20 acres of water slides and pools, more than 25 kid-friendly attractions, and some of the exhilarating roller coasters in North America, Canada’s Wonderland will blow you away.

4. Ready for a Bite to Eat?

You may have heard about the bagels up inMontrealand maybe some of the more elegant eateries in QuebecCity, but nothing will prepare you for the restaurant scene in Toronto. Toronto’s culinary scene is a world unto itself that completely defies classification. This cosmopolitan city boasts some of the best fusion restaurants in the world with flavors that can only be described as uniquely Canadian. Here are a couple you won’t want to miss.

Dailois a French-Cantonese restaurant that features “New Asian” fare prepared in the French tradition. Chef Nick Liu uses local ingredients and sustainable practices to continue the culinary tradition he received from his Hakka parents while growing up in Canada.
The truffled pumpkin dumplings and jellyfish slaw are always hits, but if you want to taste the full menu, then you’ll want to order the $65 chef’s special. Make sure to also look out for the banana blossom salad and the octopus taco.

Canoe Restaurantand, which is quite aptly named, features a set of dishes inspired by the rich landscape and the diverse culture of the people who are proud to call themselves Canadian.

Using some of the finest ingredients from across the nation, chefs Ron McKinlay and John Horne have crafted a menu meant to celebrate the Great White North. Make sure not to miss the tea-smoked duck breast, which is served with parsnip, duck liver mousse, and Niagara poached pear.

5. Niagara Falls Ontario

There are few things that are more awe-inspiring than Niagara Falls. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, this 50-meter behemoth is responsible for one-fifth of the world’s fresh water with 2,867,449 liters passing through every single second.

There are two key attractions you can’t miss when you visit the Falls–the HornblowerNiagara Cruise and the JourneyBehind.

The Hornblower ship will take you right up to the waterfall. Decked out in a colorful poncho, you’ll take the 700-passenger catamaran past the American Niagara and Bridal Falls and then up to Horseshoe Falls where you’ll disappear inside a cloud of mist.

If after the cruise ride you still want to see more, you’ll want to sign up for the Journey Behind the Falls. This hike will take you up trails that journey behind the waterfall. You’ll be taken through 130-year old tunnels into the beating heart of Niagara where you can experience the thundering roar of coursing water for yourself.

Do note though, that despite popular opinion, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel is illegal. If you’re not killed on the jagged rocks on the way down, you’ll have to answer to the police.
After a long day of excitement, you’ll want to head up to Skylon–one of Niagara’s best-held secrets. Not only does the restaurant offer award-winning continental cuisine, but it also boasts one of the most romantic views of the city. In fact, from your seat, you’ll enjoy a full 360° view of the area because you’ll be seated in their revolving dining room.

Final Thoughts:

Now we want to hear from you though. Have you ever been to Toronto? Comment below to tell us about your favorite Ontario dive. Did you explore a 200-year-old shipwreck, or did you travel along the St. Lawrence River? What did you see there, and what is your favorite memory?

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