This study examined the distribution, susceptibility to viral infection and genetic diversity of Vibrio spp. in the coastal waters and sediments of British Columbia during summer (July and August). Abundances of presumptive Vibrio spp. ranged from 1.5 to 346 ml−1 within the water column (1–291 m); whereas, abundances at the water–sediment interface were much higher (up to ∼3 × 104Vibrio spp. cc−1), and decreased with sediment depth (down to 30 cm). The genetic diversity of Vibrio spp. isolates was not tied to the location from which they originated and was only influenced in a minor way by the type of environment. However, the environment had a greater effect on phage-typing patterns. Vibrio parahaemolyticus isolates from environments with high abundances of cells (sediments and oysters) were generally more susceptible to viral infection than those from the water column which were highly resistant. Therefore, although Vibrio spp. were widespread in the areas investigated, the results show that there is segregation of bacterial host strains in different environments, under differing selection pressures, which ultimately will affect in situ phage production.