Madrona Point Dive Site
(this is a rough map and not to be meant as a navigational aid. Rely on your compass for direction)
#1. Small wall (far left entrance)
#2. Middle wall (middle entrance)
#3. Big wall (right beach entrance)
Madrona Point is a famous and very popular shore diving site located in Nanoose Bay, BC on Vancouver Island. It's well known for having large Giant Pacific Octopus and Wolf Eels. It's also not uncommon to get buzzed by sea lions here too. There are a number of different dives available here for divers of all levels.
There is parking for 2 or 3 vehicles at the very end of the road and the more spots along either side. Be careful not to block any driveways though.
None. There are gas stations in Parksville though which is just a 5 to 10 minute drive away.
Dive Plan Suggestions
There are a few different dive plans at Madrona Point that are worthwhile. You'll want to stick to the 3 main walls though unless you enjoy diving in the sand.
Madrona Big Wall (the most popular)
The big wall at Madrona is just that, a big wall. In reality, it's not as big of a wall as some other Nanoose Bay dive sites like Oak Leaf or Dolphin Beach but it's a long wall with plenty of cracks, crevices, and boulders strewn here and there.
To dive the big wall you gear up at your car, walk the short path to the water and then enter from the right point. You'll see the white marker buoy about 100 meters or so off shore. You'll want to set your compass bearing for roughly 0 degrees and swim out in the direction of the buoy.
You'll quickly run into some rock formations that local divers call "the maze" and if you've made it into these rocks it's a good sign you're going to hit the wall. Keep the rocks close on your left if you want to hit the start of the wall.
When the visibility is bad some divers will choose to surface swim to the buoy or you do risk possibly missing the wall, especially if there is any current. If you end up in the sand at 90+ feet you missed it! (yes I've done it!)
If you hit the buoy line dead-on you'll see it's held in place with a 5 gallon, concrete-filled bucket with several old scuba tanks scattered around it. Just a quick swim a few meters north and you'll be at the start of the wall. It will head in a westerly direction for quite a ways.
Pay particular attention to the cracks and crevices, look under the boulders, and keep your eyes open for Octopus out their dens.
This dive is best with steel 100 or larger tanks.
Difficulty: Advanced Open Water.
Recommended Gas: 32% to 36% Nitrox
Depth: 95 Feet or 29 Meters MAX
Common Species At Madrona Point
This is just a small sample of some of the interesting species that can be found while diving at Madrona. These photos are all from Madrona.
There are plenty of Giant Pacific Octopus to be found at Madrona Point. Just look in all the cracks and crevices.
There are several Wolf Eels that call the Madrona big wall home. Watch for both mated pairs and colorful juveniles too.
Lingcod of all sizes are common to see perched along the ledges of the big wall looking for their next meal.
There is a variety of rockfish species present on the Madrona big wall and some are quite large.
There are always a few sunflower stars crawling along the wall or along the bottom at Madrona, moreso than other local sites.
There are plenty of Nudibranchs of varying species and sizes as you swim out along the bottom on the way out to the wall.
During the fall and winter it's not uncommon to get buzzed by Sea Lions at Madrona so be ready for this type of encounter.
There are often cabezon spotted along the main wall at Madrona.
Pacific Spiny Dogfish can be spotted here but they are usually found during the summer months.
We have observed huge schools of baitfish at Madrona both herring and anchovy.