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Dive Review of Browning Pass Hideaway in
Canada/British Columbia

Browning Pass Hideaway, Apr, 2013,

by Leigh Vinzant, CO, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports). Report 7065.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 1 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I usually get a feel for how a trip will go by responses I get from emails. That should've been an indicator for this trip because it took multiple emails from me to get a simple answer and those replies took a long time. I was excited to do a temperate water dive trip. I had my drysuit for almost a year and had trained and practiced in it. I was ready to see some cool things! Getting to Browning Pass is a bit of a hassle, but we made a vacation of it. My buddy and I flew into Seattle, picked up a rental car and drove to Vancouver. We took the ferry across to Vancouver Island and spent two nights at a B&B in Nanaimo. The next day, we did two dives with a local operator in Nanaimo and drove to Port Hardy the following day. We enjoyed lunch at a pub while awaiting our transfer to the Hideaway. John from the Hideaway arrived and loaded us five guests and our gear onto his boat and we headed two hours into the inside passage. We made a stop to fuel up and made it to the floating lodge. Upon arrival, we discovered there was no power or water. We were shown to our rooms, which were quite Spartan. There were two lumpy twin beds and a bathroom. Once water was restored (otters had eaten a hole in the pipe) we learned that the toilet barely flushed and the shower was just a trickle with lukewarm water. The water was not potable. The smell in the room was of mildew and I don't think the sheets got changed from the last guests. We looked at each other, shrugged and laughed. Things had to get better. John was ready to take us diving, so we assembled our gear, donned our drysuits and loaded the dive boat. The dive site was just a few minutes away. It was an easy dive along a couple of rock faces. We saw all kinds of invertebrates, including jellyfish, various anemones, urchins, crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sponges. I was delighted in all the life I saw! We returned to the lodge and headed to dinner of chicken and roast beef with mashed potatoes. Our room was very cold because power was supplied by a generator, which did not run while we were away diving. It was noisy, so at midnight, it was turned off. Our room never did warm up. Our suits were hung up to dry in a room heated by a wood-burning stove, so it was nice to put on dry drysuits and warm underwear the next morning. I ended up wearing my thermal underwear most of the time we were there. We headed out after breakfast to an awesome site called, Hunt Rock. We timed our entry with slack tide, so we had no current. We found a wolf eel on this dive. There were many rockfish and all kinds of invertebrates. Safety stops were made easy by holding on to a stalk of kelp. Diving was by live boat, so they picked us up wherever we surfaced. We headed back to the lodge to refill tanks (we used HP 100s.) Four dives a day were offered with surface intervals back at the Hideaway. Because they had to be timed with the tides, we didn't always get four dives each day. The first full day of diving only had three dives, but they were great dives. Our second day of diving gave us three more dives. We saw a Giant Pacific Octopus and enjoyed exploring the wreck of the Themis. We saw lingcod protecting their eggs and nudibranchs as big as my hand! We were loving the dives, but did not enjoy that we could not warm up between dives and did not sleep restfully. Meals got worse as the days went by. I watched the cook pick a spatula off the floor and use it. One day while sitting at the breakfast table, a ceiling tile fell. Underneath was nothing but black mold. We decided we had enough and asked to be taken back to Port Hardy after the next morning's dive. Our last dive was on Browning Wall. I had heard it described as "the best temperate dive in the known universe" and "color overload." The site did not disappoint. It was on a vertical rock face that started in ten feet of water and continued over 300 feet. There were loads of anemones, sea stars, nudibranchs, and crabs living on the wall, as well as some pink soft corals and orange sponges. We saw a huge Puget Sound crab and a small decorator crab covered in tiny anemones. We also saw a bunch of unfurled basket stars. They stay open all the time here because plankton was readily available. This was a great way to end our temperate water diving experience. We packed up and John took the two of us and another couple back to Port Hardy. I spent the whole two-hour crossing in the heated cabin. This was the warmest I had been in three days. This was a very different experience for me. Overall, the diving was great, if you own a drysuit. Don't go with high expectations for the food or accommodations.
Websites Browning Pass Hideaway   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Florida, Bonaire, Roatan, Belize, Bahamas, Cozumel, The Caymans, California, Truk
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 45-47°F / 7-8°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 60-100 Ft/ 18-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None - we could dive with a buddy or solo and stay as long as we wanted as deep as we cared.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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