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First time in SoCal. How do I arrange my trips?

Discussion in 'SoCal' started by nicole2, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. diversteve

    diversteve mod

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: everywhere
    It is El Mar in Mesa. They run frequent trips to San Carlos, MX our nearest warm water diving. Either by caravan or twice a year they rent a bus.

    San Carlos is a sleepy ex-pat town with more dive operations than you'd think - they cater to divers from here and Tucson.

    El Mar keeps a boat (Piesquita) there - it's a nice dive platform. Also a shop in Tucson manages Ocean Spirit there. And Gary's Dive Shop has a fleet of old, slow boats.

    It's surprisingly warm to about mid-October but doesn't get warm till May or so. With the tidal exchanges winters can be very cold. Most dives are at San Pedro island nearby and most boats leave from the same marina. Marina Terra hotel is on the other side - I've walked over with my gear.
    There's a huge sea lion colony there and they'll be waiting for you in the water - they get so excited they push each other off the rocks while you're anchoring. Leave the snorkel on the boat if you want to keep your mask.

    Locally there's a group of divers who dive Lake Pleasant fairly regularly. There's even a dive boat there owned by LPScuba.

    I like El Mar enough that I drive down there from Glendale. It's a nice big shop with a pool out back. Get on their mailing list, they have a great sale every May. Go early and get in line,

    Being in Mesa also check out Saguaro Scuba and the Scuba Shop.

    From here the way to dive San Diego is fly over Th. night and get on a 2-3 day trip. Local dive sites include a wreck alley and they do overnight trips to Los Coronados in MX where it's fun to play with the sea lions in the colony there.

    Several shops also do trips/checkout dives to San Diego. Often boat diving from a boat based around Mission Beach (some are sleep on board the first night) then shore diving in LaJolla - the LaJolla Cove is a (crowded) world class dive site. Certain times of the year you can get out into the Kelp Forest which is unlike anything you've seen. And can be pretty sharky when the Six Gills run. The Marine Room site is known for leopard sharks. There's a deep submarine canyon off LaJolla Shores - you never know what will swim thru there. Inclusing the Scripps Oceanographic sub occasionally - Scripps Pier defines one end of the Shores more or less.. It will always be cold there. Actually winter is a good time although the water can be low 50's - the algae dies off so it's clearer. I've dove there comfortably in a 7mil with a 5 mil jacket (or should I say waddled)

    We've also gone to Hawaii 1/2 a dozen times. Sometimes on a direct flight from here, others thru LAX, The flight from here to LAX is about 40 mins. and due to the time zones you can be on Maui, Oahu or Kona by 1pm or so. I like Maui diving best as there's a lot of back to back shore dives, boats from Kihei dive Molokini Crater and boats from Lahaina dive Lanai'. One also goes to Molokai in season for the Hammerheads. Plus if you go during humpback season you'll definitely hear them singing in the water. I have a friend wh was approached by one once off Molokini but that is so rare I believe it made the local news.

    hth, welcome to Arizona - the all beach no water state.
    Esprise Me and Sam Miller III like this.
  2. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    And we're excited that you're excited!

    A few quick thoughts for you:

    The dive boats and dive shops in So Cal are independent of each other, although they work together. Most dive boats have their own website with schedule and booking engine. If a shop charters a boat for the day, the boat's schedule will usually state this... and tell you which shop to contact to book a spot. You can find most dive boats' websites and schedules by just googling "San Diego dive boat", "Long Beach dive boat", or "San Pedro dive boat."

    The dive boats tend to run a lot of day trips on the weekends, because they cater mostly to locals. We don't get too many "week long dive vacation" kind of divers in So Cal. Most multi-day trips tend to be 2, 3 or 4 day weekends.

    Boats in San Diego run a lot of local trips to the wrecks there... some deliberately sunk, some not deliberately sunk. Boats from Long Beach/San Pedro (i.e. Los Angeles Harbor) run a lot of day trips to Catalina, and sometimes trips to sites along the mainland. The oil rigs off of Huntington Beach (you can check them out on Google Earth... 33.589085, -118.135029 is midway between the two rigs), are a unique dive.

    Ventura and Santa Barbara are a little further north, but they have better access to the northern part of the Channel Islands.

    Water temp in So Cal tends to be 65ish, give or take a couple degrees, during the summer and into Sep and Oct. Most people do just fine with a 7mm wetsuit. Gloves and hoods are also common, although I can typically skip those during the summer and have no problem diving all day. It's definitely better to be a little overdressed than underdressed when it comes to thermal protection when diving.

    Finally... send us more questions!! I think I speak for most of us that if we can't be in the water at the moment, at least you give us the opportunity to tell you about it!
    Esprise Me and Sam Miller III like this.
  3. nicole2

    nicole2 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: California

    Thank you both for giving me so much information :)
    I was a little depressed about moving to a desert and now I'm so happy that I have so many options for diving :wink:
  4. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    I was incorrectly assuming based on a very hazy long term memory that San Carlos was about 100 miles south of the border -- I was so incorrect ! It is over 275 miles !
    The distances are as follows :

    (Mesa to Nogales ……………………..180
    Nogales to Guaymas (San Carlos)…. 274)

    FYI distances from Mesa to diving centers
    Mesa to San Carlos……………………………..454 Miles
    Mesa to San Diego...…………………………....361 Miles
    Mesa to LA ..............................…...…......…….390 Miles

    It is apparent there have been many changes to San Carlos

    Over the years I have had a certain amount of vested interest in San Carlos bay-- a lot of changes have transformed since it was thrust into the recreational diving spot light in 1955- good gosh 64 good and great years ago.

    In 1955 Ernesto Zarazota a wealthy Guaymas business man/spearfisherman promoted the first and last " Inner American/ Mexican Spearfishing meet" American spearfishing teams from SoCal competed against the local Mexican teams.

    The American teams won the meet in every category - The Douglas Air Craft (DAC) team composed of late Howard Patton and the late John Gaffney won top honors. It was the first and last Spearfishing meet promoted by Ernesto..

    Howard lost his life in a diving accident a few years later. John was the driving force and founder of NASDS, the National Association of Skin Diving Schools, published two dive magazine Aquarius and Dive and was responsive for the creation of the VIP program, etc etc.

    In 1955 I was an a USAF officer stationed at Luke AFB near Phoenix. One of my fellow officers was LT Christopher "Kit" Horn who while a UCLA had been employed by Rene Bussoz at Rene's sporting goods which became US Divers and now Aqua Lung. so he was well connected and very knowledgeable (google Christopher Kit Horn - he became a world champion surfer )

    We decided to construct CO 2 powered Spears based on the late Bill Barada (LA CO UW Instructor) design and were joined by 3 other airmen who were also some what knowledgeable experienced divers, After raiding the surplus yards we managed to create 5 workable guns.

    We perfected the guns and practiced in the base pool but soon became bored. It was Kit who read about the spearfishing meet in Skin Diver Magazine and suggested we all zoom to Guaymas for real spear fishing .in salt water.

    So away we went to San Carlos bay some where near Guaymas , It took some time but we managed to locate the entrance to San Carlos which was identified by a very small business card size sign with an arrow pointing west down two dusty tracks heading towards the ocean. We passed a few Mexican homes and finally arrived at the pristine bay which was totally devoid of people and civilized comforts .

    We dove and dove- spearing fish and collecting sea shells. All too soon the weekend was over... Duty called and we reluctantly returned to Luke AFB .

    After separation from the AF I returned often several times a year, First with diving buddies, then my wife and finally my growing family, Each time I returned the area was becoming more civilized -- roads were improved, trailers were moving in on a permanent basis, The final blow was the establishment of the San Carlos Yacht and Fishing club.

    I did have a certain amount of revenge-- the yacht club sponsored a Pargo (a fish) tournament - the largest was something around 15 pounds -- I speared a 38 pound Pargo setting the Pargo record.

    Ans that's the was it was ...a long time ago -- and you are gasping for air that some one speared a fish
    I would strongly urge that you make contact with Del Mar dive shop in Mesa Arizona (1-408 - 833 2971) and have a chat with the owner. If possible even visit the shop-- it is a long established shop in which Gene maintains a world class dive museum -- it alone is worth the trip

    (He also displays high up on the wall a rare gold plated JBL prestation spear gun along with my 30 year old article "The man with the golden gun." Less than 50 were presented and only a few remain. )

    Poor @nocole2 -- I susoect you are overwhelmed and some what confused -- new names- new locales all some what connected to your new activity.

    It becomes eaier as you progress in recreational diving

    Sam Miller, 111
    cc @Laurie S. anything to add on San Carlos ?

    @Marie13 CE
    nicole2 likes this.
  5. tep

    tep ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego CA USA
    I grew up and cert’ed when I lived in Phoenix. My dive buddy (now wife) and I often made the trip from Phoenix to SD to dive weekends. At that time it was closer to 8.5 hours to drive, yuck.

    Leave work noon Friday, drive to SD, eat dinner somewhere, get on the boat before midnight. Wake up Saturday and dive Los Coronados in Mexico. Two or 3 daytime dives and an optional night dive. Wake up, dive Sunday until whenever, drive home, hit the sack about 2 am, get up go to work the next day. Some days it was come back Monday after 3 days of diving.

    We finally decided to just move to SD :)

    Check out the diving groups on meetup.com - when I was hitting the Saturday AM at the Cove, usually about a quarter to a third of the divers were visitors. Lots from Phoenix and NorCal.

    This is just one of many, I mention it only because it is flat out consistent. Someone is going diving EVERY Saturday, rain, shine or earthquake: Meetup

    Come on in, the water’s fine!
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  6. nicole2

    nicole2 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: California
    I might do that 3 day weekend thing! I'm moving next week so hope to join the dive after I move and get my equipments !
  7. tep

    tep ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego CA USA
    I have no idea if those trip styles are still available. This was quite a while ago. Both of those boats have moved on; I don't even know if they are in service anywhere!

    Since I’m here now, I can usually just sneak off for a single day during the week, or catch that Saturday AM dive at the Shores.

    But - the meetup groups seem to keep track of and plan multi-day dives. I’ve seen Catalina, oill rigs and others, but some (many?) of those seem to leave from farther North, such as Long Beach, etc.

    As others have mentioned, the Marissa and Waterhorse Charters are two that seem to be well-known. I’ve dove from the Marissa several times, and always had a good experience. It’s just out of dry dock this month, so extra shiny!
    nicole2 likes this.
  8. Rakdiver

    Rakdiver Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
    Spectre out of Ventura is also a really good one day option out to Anacapa/Santa Cruz depending on conditions.

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