If you've made it this far you've probably seen our Exploring Bell Island video by now. It should be clear then that we are in love with Newfoundland now!
The company to stay and dive with is Ocean Quest Adventure Resort, they're really your only choice if you want an incredible trip. Their excellent accommodations are walking distance to the boat, though they load up tanks and other gear in a pickup for transport.
The boat itself is one of the best boats we've ever dived off. A huge inside area to keep warm, a good sized deck for gear, a big top deck for amazing views, and an elevator for making climbing aboard with all your gear easier than ever!
The accommodations are a very nice house, owners Rick and Debbie live on the top floor. There are rooms in the main floor area, where we stayed, and then more rooms downstairs, some with private bathroom, some with shared. The living and dining areas of the house are excellent, plus a front and back deck with BBQ. Their old dive centre is just around back with a compressor, and where you can store your gear.
Restaurants and groceries are a 10 minute walk away. You buy your own food and make own meals, but depending on the group, you share nights for cooking. Lunch is onboard the boat, soup made by boat captain and rolls. The soup is a selling point! Captain Bill makes a new soup every day, moose, chicken, beef... all amazing. It will fast become a talking point of your day on the water!
We did two dives per day. Two different wrecks one day, then two more the next, then back to the first two. Or mix-matched depending on conditions and people's preferences. This gives you an opportunity to see different parts of same wrecks. They're huge!
The crew is excellent. If you go, we hope you have John Olivero as a DM onboard. He's hilarious and great at his job. We did a shore dive with him after the wreck days were done, he's very knowledgeable about the area, the marine and dive conditions.
There are cool shore dives in the area, wrecks that penetrate the surface and even more so on a low tide, a nice little wall dive, a whale bone graveyard, etc. We recommend you extend your stay, and make sure you get a DM or someone with local knowledge, a rental car will also be required.
A great local dive club is called Thornbacks Dive Club, you can join them on Facebook. Somebody's always going out, they're an active group.
Ocean Quest is in Conception Bay South, about 30 minute taxi/drive from the city of St Johns. You must visit the city centre, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. We were screeched in twice on that trip, something we won't divulge the details of, but every visitor to Newfoundland must go through this process, and it's great fun!
Make sure that there is a tour to Bell Island. You ferry over with the group and do a tour of the mine and museum, and can visit a place called Grebe's Nest which is little hike over the cliffs and into the dry caves left over from the mining days. Very cool to see old mine entrances right on the ocean. Then grab a bite to eat at Dick's Fish and Chips with "full dressing". Amazing food!
The shipwrecks are between Bell Island and South Conception Bay, so not really far for the boat rides. In June, if you're lucky with winds, you can get up close with icebergs and even dive them. A group before us went out to see an iceberg, and it calved off right in front of them on the boat... they were meant to dive it!
Winds kept the icebergs away from our group unfortunately. But we'll return to dive the icebergs and video them.
Into July, you can have an opportunity to snorkel with humpback mommas and calves.
The water was some of the coldest we've dived in, but wore lots of warm undergarments and it was fine.
Russ dived with a steel 100 tank and AL30 pony. Trisha dived with sidemount.
We recommend the full nitrox package. The wrecks range from 150 to 60 feet, so we recommend using enriched air, and signing up for the nitrox package with Ocean Quest.
We recommend June/July. Maybe mid-late June to increase odds for humpbacks and icebergs. The sun is generally out then, and it's a great time to dive, but also explore the amazing landscapes.
If you stay longer, rent a car, do shore dives, visit St John's, and maybe a park or two.
For more info: www.oceanquestadventures.com