For the first time I dove at Deer Island in may of 2012, and, since that very auspicious trip, I always wanted to revisit one of the best diving locations in the Northeast of Canada. According to Deer Island’s website – it’s a place where one “… will experience an opportunity to relax, rediscover peace of mind and possibly gain some “quality time” with friends or family!”  I’d totally agree with such statement. Besides great diving, I had a wonderful time with Andrew Martinez, Joanne and Steve Audet. The weather was just right, not too hot and not too cold and during this trip, just to emphasize the of the origin of the island’s name, two coquettish deer were prancing on a meadow by the shoreline. Too bad I was coming back from the dive and my camera was still inside the housing.

Eastport, Mailne
Drift dive
Cat Can dive site
Motel 45th
Deer Island, Canada

Getting there

Remembering how the scenic road was, I left my house around noon, planning for leisurely, unhurried drive with frequent stops for camera moments.

On a way to Deer Island

I calculated to get to the ferry around 8 pm. But time fly too fast and, later on, I noticed that my navigation was leading me to the non-operating ferry in Eastport, ME. So I hurried to the Canadian border, thinking that I still have about 1 hour and 45 minutes left. Now can you imagine my shock when I crossed the border and navigation displayed corrected Canadian time. Now I had just 45 minutes to the last departure of Deer Island Princes II that crosses Passamaquoddy Bay, linking mainland at New Brunswick with Deer Island.

On a way to Deer Island

It looked like I was about to spend the night in the car. Yet I made it, with just a few minutes to spare. The Ferry is located in L’Etete and sponsored by the Canadian government, so it’s complimentary and operates whole year around. There are other carriers to and from Deer Island going to Eastport and Campobello Island, that would probably save an hour of driving, but operations are seasonal, vessels are smaller and crossings are not free of charge. Here you can find some useful info on Deer Island.

Doto fragilis. Point Park dive site

Well, after all driving 6 hours from Boston to Deer Island may seem like a lengthy drive, but in actuality trip does not feel that long at all. Roads, as I mentioned before, are very picturesque and you’ll definitely make quite a few stops to capture beautiful landscapes along the way.

Flabellina verrucosa. Cancat dive site

45th Parallel

As in last year, we stayed in 45th Parallel motel. It is settled just a few minutes of driving time from two main dive sites – “Cancat” and “Deer Island Point Park.” The motel offers 10 rooms with different configurations and the restaurant. It is owned and operated by two lovely sisters. Prices are fair and the newest addition is that now you’ll be able to get decent Wi-Fi signal.

Can Cat and Point Park dive sites

I’d say the only drawback of diving at Deer Island is that all dives must be conducted at the slack tides. There are plenty of apps and sites that offer tide tables. Here you can find and download free monthly Tide Charts. So check before you go, print and keep ’em with you.

Aulactinia stella – Silver-spotted Anemone

Both dive sites are easy to get to and you can park your car within a hundred feet from the entrance into the water. Unlike  “Point Park”, which is better to tackle at high tide, “Cancat” is easier to approach at low tide. You can submerge immediately, and keep your cameras ready to shoot as soon as you get into the water. Keep an eye even when you think that dive is completed and you are ready to exit the water.  At our first dive at Cancat, as we swum back to the shore, Andrew found 3.5-4 inch Maned nudibranch (Aeolidis papillosa) resting on the rock in 3-4 feet of the water. Sweet!

Maned nudibranch – Aeolidis papillosa

Despite that navigation, at both sites, is very easy, I’d still highly recommended a knowable dive guide. There are three reefs which one can explore at Cancat. At low tide the first wall would be at 30-35 feet, giving you more the an hour of dive-time. And by the way, keep in mind – an hour is about what you’ve got before tide changes and increasing surge begin sweeping you away.

Solitary Hydroid – Tubularia regalis

I’d say  Cancat is the easiest of two. “Deer Island Point Park” is a bit more advanced. Infrequent, yet occurring downdrafts could pull you down to the considerable depth. In 2012, after taking a few pictures I checked my computer and was very surprised to see that I was already at 97 feet. Also, “Deer Island Point Park” dive-site in close proximity to “Old Sow” –  the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. So it is very important to dive at both location with an experienced guide and, of course, to use good sense. Andrew Martinez dove successfully at Deer Island for more than 30 years and still going back with high expectations to see something new. Next year, hopefully, I’ll see him there again.

Safe diving and exciting discoveries to all.