Okanagan Lake is rich in history, being a mainstay for travel in the early 1900s. Paddle wheelers carried passengers and cargo from the northern end of the lake in Vernon to its southern terminus in Penticton, with various stops along the way.
After the highways were completed, the use of passenger ships declined. Rail barges transported goods up and down the valley up until February 1973.
A great recreational dive site, just north of the Westside’s Fintry Provincial Park, focuses on one of the lake’s few remaining CPR train barges. It rests below 45' (13 metres) of water, its hull in good condition, some decking and train rails intact.
Visibility is very low in the summer months: as poor as two to five feet. Fall, winter and spring – the best seasons to dive on Okanagan Lake –offer better visibility (between 15 and 30 feet).
South of the CPR barge towards Fintry Point is a 70' (21 meter) wall dive. There are large schools of Kokanee salmon and other fish varieties to see, but visibility is poor in summer.
A wall dive at Caesar's Landing features an old car wreck. Lying just north is Nahun, another Westside wall dive.
To the south of Caesar's Landing is Lake Okanagan Resort. On the lake bottom at the northern end of their breakwater lies a small sunken runabout; a sunken sailboat lies to the breakwater’s south.
South of Lake Okanagan Resort is Wilson's Landing, once a drop-off point for sternwheeler passengers and site of a cable ferry that crossed the lake to Okanagan Centre. Underwater lies a wrecked milk truck, and just to the south of it a steep wall dive. For advanced divers only.
Traders Cove Regional Marine Park offers an advanced steep wall dive that plunges 300' (91 metres). Its beach launching site is good but far from the parking lot – a long way to haul your gear.
On the Westside Bear Creek Provincial Park is one of the closest dives to Kelowna. It is considered a summer-only dive site as it lies surrounded by log booms that supply the mill across the lake for the rest of the year. To the north of the parking lot sits an old, sunken barge, and a concrete bridge anchor from the original, 1958 Kelowna floating bridge. Just south of the boat launch is a small wreck about 40' (12 metres) underwater.
Across the lake on the east side, just south of Vernon at Ellison Provincial Park, lie a few sunken boats and a truck from years gone by. Just offshore are a rowboat, a speedboat, a Boston Whaler, an old truck, and a tugboat, the Bobby McKenzie.
Just north of Okanagan Centre, Carr's Landing offers a wall dive close to shore, just in front of some waterfront homes.
Just offshore of the old Okanagan Centre lies two dive sites, including one north of the boat launch by the pilings, where a cable ferry used to pick up passengers before heading over to Wilson’s Landing. On the lake bottom rest a rowboat, stove, washing machine and two model submarines left by divers lying quite close to one another.
At the southern end of Okanagan Centre's boat launch/breakwater is a great entry-level dive featuring two, small boat wrecks. Local dive shops typically have their students do their first few open water dives here.
South of McKinley Landing is Paul's Tomb. Nearby is a sunken Ogopogo statue and a couple of small wrecks, lying in approximately 30' (9 metres) of water. Accessible by trail only, the site is likely too far to hike to from the base of Knox Mountain while carrying gear.
At the north end of Kelowna just off Waterfront Park lies a sunken cabin cruiser about 30' (9 metres) down. With the upper deck mainly gone, mostly just the hull remains.
There’s a wall dive just off of the City Park beaches that lie close to the Sails statue at the foot of Bernard Avenue. The summer’s heavy boat traffic practically dictates that this dive be accessed only in the off-seasons.
On the lake’s southeast side of the floating bridge features a few small wrecks, and debris accumulated in the lake over the years.
Bertram Creek Regional Park along Kelowna's southeast shoreline boasts interesting rock formations, a small wreck and Native fire pits established before the lake level had risen to its present height.
A sunken tug once sat a few meters below the water’s surface, south of Bertram Creek Park along Lakeshore Road, anchored to onshore trees to prevent it sliding down the steep underwater slope. Raised, the tug now sits by Highway 97 just south of Winfield, and advertises the Holiday Park Resort.
For advanced divers, other interesting dives on Okanagan Lake include the underwater caves and caverns at Rattlesnake Island (where the legendary lake monster Ogopogo made his home), and also below the steep cliffs on the south side of Squally Point.
For more in depth information on these dive sites contact the local diving shops located in Kelowna.