When people think of diving Lake Champlain, you might image wreck diving from a boat. Well known wrecks such as the O.J. Walker, General Butler or Tugboat Lavalee draw divers every year. However, not all days or schedules allow for boat diving. Enter Whiskey Bay, a local shore diving spot. Located just south of Burlington in picturesque Charlotte. It is one of the deepest areas in the lake, you can follow a slope down to depths greater than 100ft.
Whiskey Bay has a rock beach entry with shallow areas directly north and south; the depth increases as you head northwest. The local dive shop has a bright red line tied off to a pile of old bicycles that you can follow into the deeper portions of the area. As soon as you enter the water, you’ll find rocks and old structures covered in freshwater mussels; you might spot a few fish here or there, but they aren’t as abundant as seen at McKinney Park, the shore dive we covered in Lake Winnipesaukee.
A small public parking lot is located just across the road from the entrance. There is a short hill that makes carrying gear down a little precarious, however, use of adequate precaution and you’ll be down it in no time. The beach is made up of small rocks and boulders and is favored by small boaters both locally and regionally. The rocks are coated with a thin layer of algae, but if you look for the spot where the boaters launch, the rocks are scraped clean, making for an easy entrance.
Remember to bring a flag and to follow Vermont Flag Regulations. If you’re headed for depth, there are several spots you can tie your flag off to in the 20-30ft range before you descend into the deeper areas.
The bottom of Lake Champlain is mostly silt and can easily be stirred up. It is essential that proper buoyancy be observed if you want to maintain visibility. If you are used to saltwater diving, don’t forget to take a few pounds off your belt!
Free parking is located across the beach’s entrance; there is a sign that states “Charlotte Whiskey Bay Natural Area Parking”. The lot is a small gravel area surrounded by a grass field – the lot is easy to miss, be sure to keep an eye out.
Directions from the local dive shop: Go “to the end of Thompson’s Point Road, you will see some tennis courts on the right…just past that take a right on North Shore Road. It curves around behind the tennis courts and on the right…is a small field that is public parking”.