Ayesha Cantrell
Ayesha Cantrell

Aug 07. 2 mins

IS THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER KEEPING A SECRET?

The St. Lawrence River area is popular for divers, but most go just for the wrecks overlooking the jewel that is Les Escoumins. Cold but colorful and packed with life, it really shouldn’t be missed particularly if you love the vibrancy of a tropical reef – but don’t mind tugging on a dry suit.

Colorful life at Les Escoumins

Les Escoumins lies on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, but as it’s both saltwater and tidal, it offers something very different to the wrecks of the St. Lawrence River and Tobermory. Considered by locals as the best saltwater diving in the region Les Escoumins is essentially one captivating coastal area that, access-wise, is divided into three.

The Bay of Anemones is the most northern of the sites and, as its name suggests, is all about these waving fronds. The bay is quiet and largely protected from waves and currents too which means the dive should be relaxing and colorful. In fact, most are surprised at just how colorful this temperate area is which is most likely the reason divers fall in love with Les Escoumins.

East and West Creek are the other access points to this coastal region which allows you to explore further. Expect to see crabs, sun stars, wolf fish and a surprising array of nudibranch and slugs.

Vibrant colors,
The sites are accessed from the shore which is great news if you suffer from seasickness or simply enjoy the freedom that shore diving offers. Shore-side facilities have been provided to make life as easy as possible for diving. Parking is paid for, but there is an attendant and handy carts to help haul gear. Walkways and steps are safe and easy to use, and there are showers, toilets and rinsing facilities too. There’s also a dive base with all the facilities you would expect to find; this means you can hire a guide should you wish to familiarize yourself with the sites with the benefit of local knowledge.

Diving at Les Escoumins is a chilly affair which ideally calls for a dry suit to maximize your enjoyment. You can brave the water in a wetsuit but make sure it’s going to offer very good thermal protection; gloves and hood are not negotiable. Temperatures range from 0 °C (32°F) to 8 °C (46°F), and good visibility would be 15 m (49ft). Although shore diving does offer some flexibility versus boat schedules, do remember to take the tides into account to avoid tidal currents.

During your surface interval keep an eye out for whales. Whale watching trips are popular throughout the year, so if you want to do more than catch a glimpse from the shore, you are in the right place. Many different species of whale can be seen; blue, humpback, fin, beluga, and minke along with harbor porpoise and three types of seal.

Some species are seasonal, but the beluga is resident which leads many whale watching operators to offer a whale-sighting-or-money-back-guarantee. That offer itself gives you an idea that your trip will not be wasted.

Diving Les Escoumins would make a nice addition to this eastern Canadian road trip.

Have you enjoyed dives at Les Escoumins? Tell us about your experience.

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