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Dive Review of Divers Den/Tobermory Princess Hotel in
Canada/Tobermory, ON

Divers Den/Tobermory Princess Hotel: "Tobermory / Divers Den / Tobermory Princess Hotel / Bruce Peninsula", Aug, 2017,

by Paul Selden, MI, USA (Contributor Contributor 15 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 9984 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Toberymory is a charming little town embracing Little Tub Harbor at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario. Its many clothing, ice cream and art shops draw big tourist crowds once the fog lifts from surrounding Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay, and the skies turn blue and the air warms up in the summer. The bustling harbor is also the main port from which a number of kayak renters, dive operators and tour excursion boats depart to explore the many shipwrecks and islands in the often treacherous straits that separate Lake Huron from the Georgian Bay, and into which many jaw dropping seaworthy craft moor and dock for the season or seek itinerant berth.

My spouse and I spent a wonderful long weekend poking along the coast up and back from Tobermory this past summer, along with a fairly large group from our local (Michigan-based) dive shop, Sub-Aquatic Sports and Service. Camaraderie of a congenial group aside, one advantage of signing up on-board as a group is that we were able to charter/take over Deep Obsession, a roomy 45 footer, whereas more free-spirited divers arriving here and there in twos and threes without a charter may or may not be able to walk onto a dive boat in high season, depending on how busy things get. The friendly staff at the Divers Den shop could not have been more helpful. Cert cards buried in the minivan in a dive log under jumbles of gear? Doh! No problem. PADI certifications found on-line in a modern jiffy even before the plastic IDs could be dug out. And once on the water, the thorough, vivid briefings from Cpt. John Currie before each dive made the history of each wreck we dove on come to life in mindís eye. The four wrecks we explored were all within Five Fathoms Marine Park, which encompasses a huge number of islands, rocks, shoals and shipwrecks at the northern end of 450 mile long Bruce Peninsula. My first dive was on the Niagara II, a 182 foot long steel sand sucker deliberately sunk as a dive site in 1999. Photos looking in an out of the wheelhouse were a hoot. The next dive was on Caroline Rose, a 132 foot two masted schooner, sister ship to the one depicted on the back of the Canadian dime. She was also sunk as a dive site. Her massive timbers are now largely broken up, clearly revealing the brilliant, skillfully rendered joinery and structures necessary when building a massive, wooden workhorse of a ship under sail. My shipmates and I were delighted the next day when weather permitted the relatively deep dive (100+ feet) on Arabia, a 131 foot barque that sunk in heavy seas in 1884. This pinnacle dive wreck is relatively intact, and features a famously photogenic set of spooky looking deadeyes. Among freshwater shipwreck buffs lucky enough to make the plunge, their skull-like appearance is a prized sighting that is not always easy to witness first-hand due to the hostile nature of its grave: its last resting place is deep, cold and the currents in which it is enveloped are sometimes too strong to make the dive even permissible. I was glad I brought an extra pair of dry mittens when one of my other dry mitts had a too-close encounter with something sharp, maybe a zebra mussel while hanging at the safety stop at the end of the dive. My last dive of the trip was on the W.L. Wetmore, a 214 foot wooden vessel that sunk in 1901 as her skipper tried to maneuver between islands while towing two barges in a blinding snow squall to safety in the lee of driving winds. Her huge anchor chain is uncoiled in an intriguing undulation along the bottom at around 20 feet, leading to a massive anchor. To say that Five Fathoms National Park offers a variety of challenging dives and weird/ eerie perspectives for those who are ready for diving in cold waters, all within the bosom of a welcoming environment on land, is an understatement.

Our package fee for the dives and lodging at the Tobermory Princess Hotel included a light breakfast (which I often supplemented for a small up charge). Their omelets were big and tasty, and their pancakes were quite good. Our room was clean. Just mind that the owners donít like to see dive gear draped on their railings. I traveled with a goodly length of parachute cord and gear hangers, so was able to rig up a spot within the confines our balcony, set back from the railing and more or less out of sight.

Tobermory is filled with fun restaurants that serve a delicious whitefish and chips, with enough craft beers to keep a home-brewer like me a happy sampler. My wife doesnít dive, but she reported plenty of to do poking around town in the mornings, and I felt the same as we explored their extensive boardwalk and admired the many boats in harbor after each of my morning dives. We spent Sunday and Monday on land, hiking the Bruce Peninsula National Park, riding bicycles around nearby Big Tub Harbor and watching the huge car-ferry MS Chi-Cheemaun dock and depart. The live band we caught one night after a chance meeting with their bass player at the Crowsnest Pub was a fantastic, can't-be-repeated experience. But you can probably discover something else almost as cool: how the talking skeleton works outside of Shipwreck Lee's.

If you are so inclined, I highly recommend a glass-bottomed boat tour that cruises over some of the shallower wooden-hulled wrecks in Big Tub Bay and past remarkable rock formations on Flowerpot Island. If you are up for a hike, take advantage of the excursion cruise regular drop-off/pickup service to explore the trails on Flowerpot Island. Climbing up and down some of the formations and dipping my toes in the cold freshwater under a warm sun and blue skies left me feeling invigorated and adventurous.

By the way, Five Fathoms Marine Park and the Bruce Peninsula National Park are set along the Niagra Escarpment, whose limestone cliffs plunge steeply into the water in some places, making for beautiful vistas. One quiet cove we stumbled across reminded me of one of the most enchanting spots Iíve ever visited: the ďplace of refugeĒ at Pu-uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on the island of Hawai-i. If you re-discover "our spot" Iíd suggest keeping it a secret.
Websites Divers Den   Tobermory Princess Hotel

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving FL Keys, Bonaire, W Palm Beach, Vanc. I., Thetis I., CA, Saba, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Galapagos, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Lil Cayman, Utila, Roatan, Andros, Turneffe Is., Palm I., Playa d Carmen, Ceyn-Akumal, Dominica, Holbox, Curacao, Union I., St. Eust., Providencia, Philippines, Borneo, Fiji
Closest Airport Tobermory Municipal Airport Getting There Tobermory is about 280 miles from the major airports in Detroit or Toronto.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 46-63°F / 8-17°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 10-25 Ft/ 3-8 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Just needed use due caution, dive with a buddy and return to the boat together. Dives were not guided.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments High ratings are for divers and UWPs into shipwreck diving. 4 star rating for beginners is due to comments made by divers in our group fairly new to cold water diving, who only had 7mil wetsuits and who got too cold to stay down as long as they might have liked. Diving was in clean freshwater; rinse buckets and special accom. for cameras were not needed. There was room on board to set cameras, on deck, under seats, etc.
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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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