Text and Photography by ADM Staff Photojournalist Dr. Doug Ebersole
s the wheels of the Pacific Coastal Airlines plane touch the ground in Port Hardy, I begin to question my decision to travel to British Columbia for a diving vacation. A lifelong Floridian "warm water wimp", I spent last weekend in the 87 degree water of West Palm Beach. And now I am voluntarily planning on jumping into water not much more than half that temperature? What could possibly cause me to do such a thing? Then I remember all of the dive magazines espousing British Columbia as the "best cold water diving in the world". I also think back to the images and the video from my friend Alan Studley who made this trip last year and invited me to come along this time. Okay, the marine life here is going to be worth the extra thick undergarments for my drysuit! Wolf eels and giant pacific octopus -- here I come!
We are staying at God's Pocket (, a quaint island resort just a short boat ride from Port Hardy. The group is made up of seven "left-coasters" and me. While the group from California and Seattle drove up, I opted to fly into Vancouver and then take the one hour flight from Vancouver to Port Hardy on Pacific Coastal Airlines. This did require shipping my rebreather, dive gear, and camera housing to Dave Hancock, owner of Dive Alert ( and member of our group, as Pacific Coastal only allows one 50 pound piece of luggage and one small carryon. The other approach would have been to fly to Seattle and drive up with the group from there -- about a nine hour trip.
Bill and his wife Annie, the owners of God’s Pocket, meet our group at he dock and take us on the 45 minute boat ride over to their island home. They have run this operation for thirteen years and have a reputation for knowing the area like the back of their hands. While ours is a small group of eight, the resort usually takes twelve divers or sixteen kayakers per week. After dropping off our luggage in our cabins, we meet for dinner and a briefing to plan the week.

The food at God's Pocket is truly amazing. Meals are all served family style with lots of variety and large quantities to satisfy the hunger of a bunch of divers. Daily breakfast items included fruits, cereals, eggs, bacon, sausage, muffins, and pancakes.
Lunches usually consisted of a nice hot bowl of soup along with salad or sandwiches. Dinners included salmon, seafood fettucini, and steak along with a wide variety of side dishes and salads. Oh, and did I mention the ice cream, cakes, and pies for dessert? If you come expecting to lose a few pounds from all of the diving, you will be sadly disappointed.

All of the diving around God's Pocket is coordinated around the tides. As sixteen foot tidal changes are not uncommon here, entering the water at slack tide is crucial. This allows for a schedule of three dives per day. Some days we had two morning dives and one afternoon dive while on other days the tide charts made one morning dive and two afternoon dives a better option.

The first morning we were off to Husser Point for a shakedown dive to make sure everyone's gear was in working order. This area has a sloping bottom at about 30 feet and then a nice wall.

The place was covered in metridium anemones and nudibranchs. Just 30 minutes into my first dive of the trip I found an octopus. This was going to be a great trip!

After lunch, we headed out to dive one of the signature sites of the area -- Browning Wall. This site is often listed as one of the best dive sites in the world and it clearly lived up to its reputation. Every square inch of this vertical wall is covered with life and in all the colors of the rainbow! Anemones, starfish, crustaceans, nudibranchs, octopus were everywhere. After a surface interval highlighted by topside photography of bald eagles, we did a drift dive at Inside Seven Tree. This was an incredibly diverse dive in the Browning Pass. The first part of the dive was very similar to Browning Wall. We then drifted through a wall covered in metridium anemones, followed by a boulder area and then sand patches with beautiful orange sea pens. Now, less than one day into the trip and I have seen everything on my trip "bucket list" except a wolf eel.

The next morning walking to breakfast I saw a young deer dining on the kelp at low tide at the resort along with a blue heron fishing in the shallows. A closer look at the water showed a Puget Sound crab at the shore and a lion's mane jellyfish floating near the dock. I felt all of this wildlife had to be a good omen for finding wolf eels today and our dives at Hunt Rock and Dillon did not disappoint.

Hunt Rock is one of the more exposed sites when it comes to weather and tides so Bill and Annie pulled up on site and we waited for the kelp to come up to the surface, suggesting the tide was slack. We then jumped in the water and hugged the wall. Bill had suggested we drop into a sand channel and at the end of that channel drop to 70 feet where we should encounter plenty of wolf eels. The kelp could be used as an up and down line. His briefing, as with every other dive briefing the whole week, was dead on. We found several wolf eels in their dens and, again thanks to Bill's briefing, took off a glove and used bare fingers to coax the eels out into the open.
Dillon was another great site with wolf eels and octopus and, along with Hunt Rock and Browning Wall, was a site we dove several times during the week. Once just definitely was not enough!

We even "discovered" our own site during the week. While on one surface interval we noticed a ton of hooded nudibranchs covering every inch of a kelp bed. Jason Bradley ( convinced us to dive the site and since Bill had never been there before, it was named Bradley's Cove. There were some other more derogatory names suggested by certain members of the group which were fueled by after dinner adult beverages, but we settled on Bradley's Cove.

A final site that warrants special mention is Seven Tree. This was a site with one side of the island very similar to Browning Wall with the other side a sandy channel. There was then kelp and nudibranchs up in the shallows. It was like three dive sites in one.

All in all it was a fantastic week filled with phenomenal diving and topside action including bald eagles, humpback whales, and sea lions. Thanks to Billl, Annie, and their staff for a great time in God's Pocket. They have managed to turn this "warm water wimp" into an enthusiastic cold water diver. However, I might splurge on dry gloves for the next trip!