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My Notes for Researching My California Dive Trip

Discussion in 'SoCal' started by drrich2, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Over the past year I faced the daunting task of making sense of the options for planning a 1st time out-of-state dive trip to California, from the perspective of an intermediate recreational diver, south-central U.S.-based (Kentucky), with mainly warm water prior experience (e.g.: Bonaire & other Caribbean, Key Largo, Jupiter, and an August trip to Morehead City, North Carolina). Many people helped me, so I wrote this up to help others who may be where I was. Thanks, all. I intend to post a trip report later in a separate thread.

    Selecting a California Dive Tourist Destination

    Thanks in advance to forum members & other online sources who provided info. to research a dive trip to California, a large state with a long coast and varied sites and conditions much different from calm tropical locations. I hope to help dive tourists considering a California trip process this and decide where to go. Judgments are based mainly on other’s experience, typical heading to a new destination. Ronald Reagan said “Trust, but verify.” In that spirit, I’ll cite sources and link you to threads with a post # or articles to get it direct. I recently got back from my trip and plan to post a trip report in a separate thread.

    Why California?

    Like many divers, I sought ‘other’ destinations to explore, new conditions to broaden my experience. I hit North Carolina to dive deep wrecks with sand tiger sharks, then got curious about California. Cold water and rough sea conditions (vs. Caribbean) were off-putting, but the prospect of kelp, sea lions & other species (e.g.: giant sea bass, garibaldi, huge starfish, purple hydrocoral) appealed, as did a new ocean and the west coast.

    As a 1st time tourist destination (not locals diving for budget & convenience), California’s daunting. There’s so much info. to take in, so many options, and not all in one place. I wrote to help 1st timers flying in for a multi-day dive trip, not the seasoned repeater or resident.

    Note: You can head south to Mexico, by land or boat (e.g.: out of San Diego). Below south California is a long strip of Mexican land called the Baja California Peninsula; between it and mainland Mexico is the Sea of Cortez. If you don’t favor U.S. destinations, the promise of warmer water and other features may call. Do a search on Cabo Pulmo, or if a live-aboard with pelagic action appeals consider the Socorro Islands (~ 250 miles off the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula).

    The State

    California is a very long, ‘skinny’ west coast state (with ~ 38 million people), 3rd largest after Alaska & Texas, with varied topography (e.g.: Sierra Nevada, redwood-Douglas fir forests, Mojave Desert & Death Valley) and climate ranging from subarctic to subtropical but mostly Mediterranean (all facts condensed from the Wikipedia entry). Plus it’s got Disney Land (not Disney World).


    California_Map.PNG

    California Map [Public domain], by National Atlas of the United States, from Wikimedia Commons

    Curiously, per Wikipedia there are 2 references for California’s coastline length – per a CRS report for Congress it’s 840 miles based on nautical charts, but per another method (specifics unknown, but includes tidal areas) 3,427 miles. Eye-balling it on Google Maps, I favor the 840-mile version. That’s mostly north-south (so temp.s vary) and there’s a ‘bight’ (like a broad, enormous bite taken out) creating irregular coastline to the south.

    Off the coast of Southern California are the famous Channel Islands; 4 Northern Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa & San Miguel) and 4 Southern Channel Islands (Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, San Nicolas & San Clemente). The Northern C.I.s + Santa Barbara make up the Channel Islands National Park. The Northern C.I.s tend to have colder water than the Southern. Smaller islands tend to offer less shelter, and those farther out from the coast rougher dive conditions. Some Channel Island names are also used for locations in mainland California (e.g.: Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz).

    566px-Californian_Channel_Islands_map_en.png
    Lencer - own work, used: Google Earth USA California location map.svg by User:NordNordWest for Minimap Idea: Californian Channelislands.jpg by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration CC By-SA 3.0 Link to file page at WikimediaCommons.org

    California has a cold current coming down from the north & a warmer current rising from the south, impacting dive temp.s by region. The Catalina Island Conservancy has a nice article by Alexa Johnson explaining that from Point Conception southward, the cold California Current flows southward many miles offshore outside the California Bight; some warmer water swings back toward the coast headed north, creating a small whirlpool flow around the Channel Islands. She describes the effect of prevailing winds moving surface water away from the coast, causing cold deepwater upwellings that greatly enhance nutrient levels and productivity up the food chain. This supports more life, at the cost of colder water vs. similar latitude diving off the east coast.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  2. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    North or South, Shore or Boat?

    Northern California (north of Point Conception) has colder water, and sea life more similar to that north. Southern California (south of Point Conception) has (relatively) warmer (still cold) water and somewhat different sea life. Even Southern California diving in summer and fall is often done with thick wetsuit/hood/gloves or dry suit. For a briefing on diving Northern California (not my focus), check out Chuck Tribolet’s Important Stuff the New Monterey Diver Needs to Know.


    Per Undercurrent’s Continental USA Overview north of Pt. Conception temp.s drop to low 50s above the thermocline, viz. runs 10-60 feet & shore diving requires surf entry, but south of Pt. Conception surface temp.s can hit 70’s summer (but low 50’s year round below thermocline with viz. 20-100 feet). Great Escape’s page on Southern California conditions claims at depth water temp.s range from 48 to 72 degrees, Catalina & San Clemente Islands usually warmest and San Miguel Island coldest. While other source’s reports may vary from these figures, and both site & season matter, it’s a start for comparing.

    MaxBottomTime (Post #10) noted “NorCal has rugged, spectacular diving, but you need a boat to reach the best spots or be willing to fight rough entries/exits. The Channel Islands offer fairly easy diving most of the year. During the winter and early fall some islands can't be reached but they offer life not found near shore.”

    In a discussion about seasonal SoCal water temp.s at depth, Marine Ecologist Dr. Bill Bushing, who’s often dove Catalina Island (amongst other places) over the years, posted a link to his dive log, with max. depth and bottom temp. listed. Be mindful some years are atypical; 2015 was an El Nino year with abnormally warm water, even deep. Fnfalman noted in August SoCal water should be in the high 50’s, possibly low 60s. Jscan1 & Fnfalman warned about chilling on the boat (cool air, wind and the evaporative effect on wet wetsuits (e.g.: similar to how sweat works), especially with repetitive dives, and a dive parka was recommended. Divebum’s page on conditions in San Diego notes water temp.s are highly variable but generally summer surface temp.s are high 60’s to low 70’s, at depth temp.s low to high 60’s (winter surface high 50’s to low 60’s, at depth very low to high 50’s).

    To me, that meant dive Southern California. Shore diving is popular in California; many sites are more demanding than in Bonaire (colder, lower viz., rougher seas, effort to get to some sites, parking meters, more prone to cancel due to weather). Some can be deadly; to the north Monastery Beach carries the nickname ‘Mortuary Beach’. So it’s apt to require work and local knowledge. I read viz. is often better at offshore sites (i.e.: boat dives). Plus you’ve got to drive around, and pay for a hotel. (Note: shore diving Casino Point at Catalina Island is another matter).

    For a dedicated dive trip flying in for the best conditions in a set few days, boat diving sounded best, which left the Channel Islands vs. San Diego.

    Note: There’s more to boat diving than the Channel Islands (e.g.: offshore kelp forest and Wreck Alley out of San Diego; oil rig diving; Tanner Bank; Cortes Bank; to the south the 4 Coronado Islands (4 islands owned by Mexico)).

    Note #2: By focusing on southern California, this guide leaves out Northern resources – Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, Monastery Beach, Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, the scenic coastal drive along Big Sur, etc…

    Live-aboard, Mainland or Catalina Island?

    Since Santa Catalina Island (people often omit the ‘Santa’) is the only Channel Island with a permanent non-military settlement, for land-based Channel Islands diving you’re doing boat trips off the mainland (e.g.: Santa Barbara, Ventura Harbor, Long Beach), or taking a ferry from Long Beach over to Catalina Island to shore dive Casino Point plus do boat dives (mainly sites around Catalina Island).

    If you stay on Catalina Island, you’ll likely be in or near Avalon, the main city (faces the mainland). On the backside at the ‘pinched’ section is the little town of Two Harbors. There are land tours such as to see bison (Trip Advisor – Things to Do in Catalina Island), and a number of dive op.s. One recommended to me is Scuba Luv; they don’t go out without a minimum number of divers, so having the Casino Point shore option (or willingness to switch to non-diving activities) is important. A hotel may be expensive.

    A number of mainland-based boat trips tend to hit the closest islands; Anacapa for northern op.s (e.g. the Spectre out of Ventura Harbor) & Catalina for southern op.s (e.g.: SunDiver). You could be looking at a 1½ hour boat ride, unless you take a fast boat (e.g.: the SunDiver Express), and may find hitting a variety of islands troublesome to arrange. Coastal regions are expensive places to live, and rent! Solo travelers may find a modest hotel stay (without food or diving) almost as expensive as a multi-day live-aboard! It seemed to me mainland-based day boat trips were mainly scheduled around weekends; reliability of daily trips through the week wasn’t clear.

    California live-aboards tend to be cheaper but more basic than mainstream roughly $2,500 Caribbean live-aboards (e.g.: the Truth Aquatics boats have bunk bedding with shared bathrooms). People speak well of the food & crews. Expect 2-5 day trips rather than 7 day (unlike Caribbean). In California live-aboards, I heard really good things about Truth Aquatics and the Peace, and also found Great Escape Dive Charters.
     
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  3. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    A Word On Cost & Amenities

    For a solo traveler, a live-aboard such as Truth Aquatics will probably be the cheapest option, but they may return the evening of a day you dove and don’t count on over-nighting on the boat, so factor in the cost of a 1-night hotel stay. Taxi the day you arrive and leave and you can skip renting a car!

    For a pair or more, sharing a hotel room (& maybe rental car) & splitting the cost can make a land-based trip more affordable.

    If you’ve got non-divers to entertain (e.g.: spouse, kids, friends), Catalina Island offers a relaxed topside and variety of tours plus you can get around Avalon easily, but the mainland’s attractions (e.g.: Disney Land) make a compelling case. Are they ready for driving the infamous L.A. highways?

    Some Basics About California Dive Culture

    Unlike Caribbean & some Florida diving, you probably won’t find routine tours led by a dive guide. You’ll set up your own gear, might can solo dive, etc... (check with your prospective dive op. in advance, though). Rental tanks & weights are often not included in boat trip cost. Steel tanks are common, such as 95 cf tanks, but it’s hard to find rental 120 cf tanks. Some people spearfish & hunt lobster, with a license and in season where legal. You can expect a dive site briefing, and there will likely be staff onboard ready to assist with emergencies.

    You’ll be in a dry suit or thick wetsuit (e.g.: 7 mm full wetsuit), hood and gloves. For many this means packing more weight than we’re used to, greater buoyancy shifts with depth change, worse hearing (e.g.: for dive computer alarms) and less tactile discrimination with our hands. Peace Dive Boat’s rental sizing page has info. to help estimate proper weighting, including conversion from fresh to salt water.

    Some Home Base Options & Dive Op.s

    Let’s consider mainland locations north-to-south, then Catalina Island. California Diving News has a page with reviews of several popular dive boats.

    1.) Santa Barbara (city, not the island; pop. > 91,000). Trip Advisor – Things to Do in Santa Barbara. Fairly close to the Northern Channel Islands, but distant from the Southern. The primary location for Truth Aquatics, a 3 boat fleet (Truth, Vision, Conception) offering day & multi-day trips (usually not over 5 days; often 3 or 4) to a range of destinations, including the northern & southern Channel Islands, coastal diving off Big Sur, coastal wrecks, Tanner Bank & Cortes Bank. There are non-diving options. Truth has both open seating (book with them) & chartered trips (book with a group who reserved the boat); it varies by trip. You can rent gear via the Sea Landing Dive Center; the basic boat trip charge includes meals and air fills but not tanks, & nitrox is an up charge. The biggest tank I could rent there was 95 cf.

    I chose Truth Aquatics for their strong reputation online (consistently good reviews) & multi-day live-aboard offerings, particularly the somewhat more expensive ‘limited load’ trips (where they limit diver number to offer more space & ‘refined’ menus).

    For a Truth Aquatics trip, plan to arrive the night before, board that evening, & book a hotel for the evening you return because you might not get to spend that night on the boat & need a longer surface interval before flying.

    2.) Ventura Harbor – a 274 acre multi-use recreational & commercial fishing small craft harbor in the City of Ventura (pop. ~ 107,000). Trip Advisor – Things to Do in Ventura. Ventura Harbor is a bit closer to Santa Cruz Island, and a good deal closer to Anacapa Island, compared to Santa Barbara (city).

    One boat operating from here is the Spectre, run by CalBoat Diving. Their website states “We are a specialized company devoted to one task. Our purpose is to get you under the waters of Anacapa and Santa Cruz in the Northern Channel Islands. We book the trip and provide dive rental gear.” As of 10-15-15, their Prices & Schedule page stated “Weekend single day trips and Friday trips are available all year. Thursday trips are run on summer months only. All other weekdays are open for charter groups of 20 or more.” They have a good FAQ page. They also send divers on another boat, the Peace (which does open boat & charter trips, so you can book with them directly).

    3.) Long Beach – a city of > 460,000 in L.A. County, with the 2nd largest U.S. container port. Trip Advisor – Things to Do in Long Beach. Here’s where you catch the Catalina Express ferry to & from Catalina Island.

    Alamitos Bay – an inlet between Long Beach & Seal Beach at the San Gabriel River outlet. Here’s where you board the SunDiver boats, the SunDiver, SunDiver II (a 6 pack), SunDiver III & SunDiver Express. The Express was recommended as a fast boat with much shorter round trip times on Channel Islands trips. They do open seating & you can charter a boat. They do gear rental, and tanks (85 cf steel, 63 & 50 cf AL) & weights are included on charters. FYI – they had a missing diver situation 12-29-15 leading to a Scuba Board thread and a follow up you may wish to read.

    San Pedro – a community within L.A. that contains part of the Port of Los Angeles, a major international seaport. Here you find Great Escape Dive Charters, running 1 to 5 day trips on an 80’ long, 25’ beam boat. Some bunks are in staterooms.

    4.) San Diego – Offers famous shore & boat diving, sadly with a reputation for divers getting ‘blown out’ of trips. While people debate how prevalent that is, it’s a problem (discussed in this thread, San Diego). My take: if you’ll be there, try to get some diving in, boat or shore! Topside attractions may sway you. Dive Bums has a page for visitors discussing local conditions. For a dedicated dive trip, I chose elsewhere. I didn’t see day trip options to the Channel Islands, probably because San Diego is so far south of them, but they can hit other areas, such as the Coronado Islands.

    Waterhorse Charters offers day boat trips, their site mentioning Wreck Alley (Yukon, Ruby E, NOSC Tower), thick kelp forest in Point Loma and the Coronado Islands in Mexico. They use a 45’ boat, the Humboldt, & can carry 22 divers. They list trip times of 15 minutes to kelp & wrecks, or 75 minutes to the Coronado Islands. They do gear rentals. Trip cost includes steel 85 cf tanks & hard weights. They can do tec. trips.

    Marissa Dive Charters offered small boat trips of 6 – 14 divers on a 40’ boat, handled both rec. & tec. diving, & could provide trimix on full boat charters. They hit a range of sites, including wreck diving (e.g.: HMCS Yukon, Ruby E). Trip price included AL 80 cf tanks, weights & air fills.

    Power Scuba is a non-profit, no dues independent scuba group involved in both shore & boat diving sometimes recommended as a contact to connect with the regional dive scene.

    Shore diving’s popular in San Diego; DiverSteve (Post #2) noted arguably the best shore diving is La Jolla Cove, though TGIF858 (Post #8) opined La Jolla Shores is probably the most forgiving spot to dive in So. Cal, less prone to get blown out, & La Jolla Cove is far less forgiving though probably more interesting.
     
    Dan likes this.
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    BuoyA (Post #7) noted of San Diego’s strong points:



    ◦ One of the healthiest giant kelp beds in the world (Point Loma)

    ◦ Other giant kelp beds up and down the coastline, including La Jolla Cove

    ◦ Wreck Alley which includes sites such as The Yukon, The Ruby E, and NOS Tower

    ◦ La Jolla Shores, which is very diver friendly w. a grassy park right in front. There's a long stretch of instructor friendly "shallows" which is mostly just sand, but then opens up into a deep, deep canyon that constantly provides new creature subjects for those who dive it often.

    ◦ Los Coronados Islands (technically in Mexico) offer fun shallow dives w. better-than-usual visibility for the area. Lots of friendly sea lions here.”


    In the same post, he noted “From my experience, San Diego's most predictable period in which a charter is least likely to be cancelled, is July - October. I've probably been on 20+ local charters and I've had only two cancelled. The warmest top water temps tend to occur in late summer/early fall (appx 70 degrees). However, temps at depth are consistently low 50s all year round (except this year which is an El Nino year),” and “All that said, I don't think any local diver would ever argue that the crown jewel(s) of So Cal diving are the Channel Islands. If you want to experience the best of So Cal diving, this is where you need to go.”

    Note: JScan1 (Post #11) wrote “As for the Crown Jewels, I'd have to say the Oil Riggs, are fantastic, usually great visibility, great growth and pelagics....the other crown jewel I'd say is Farnsworth bank, purple hydrocoral is awesome.”


    5.) Santa Catalina Island – one good way to do Channel Island diving is stay on one! This is the only one you can. It’s 22 miles long, 8 miles at the widest & nearly 75 square miles in area, pop. roughly 4,100; compare to Bonaire at 24 miles long, 3-7 miles wide & ~114 square miles in area, pop. > 17,000. Catalina Island is shaped vaguely like a giant beaver, roughly parallel with the mainland, head, neck (the city of Avalon) then a fat body, then a ‘pinched’ area (where Two Harbors is) then a long, paddle-like tail.

    For non-diving co-travelers (Trip Advisor – Things to Do), you’ve got a range of activities, including various tours. There are bison, a zip line & more.

    Divers shore dive at Casino Point Marine Park, with steps for entry & exit.

    Catalina Scuba Luv offers boat diving, guided Casino Point Marine Park dives, Snuba, Sea Trek & more. They’ve got a 54’ boat, Bertram, & a yacht called The Scrambler. A nice perk with island diving is if they don’t get the minimum divers to take the boat out (4), you can still dive the park.

    Note: Dr. Bill (Post #13) reported “None of the dive boats here on the island go to the other channel islands with the exception of an occasional, special trip to San Clemente. Those islands are generally served by mainland boats out of San Diego, Long Beach, Ventura and Santa Barbara.“ (Bold emphasis mine).

    Scuba Board has a long running (since ’08) sticky for Catalina Island Info; Teamcasa laid it out in detail.


    At this point, traveling solo & focused on diving, a live-aboard or serial day boat trips to the Channel Islands were my goal. But which? There are the Northern Channel Islands, which are colder, Southern Channel Islands, and if you stay on Catalina Island you’ll probably only dive it. All 4 Northern Channel Islands + Santa Barbara form the Channel Islands National Park; their surrounding waters form the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (good to know if you plan to hunt).

    They vary in size from little Santa Barbara Island (area ~ 1.02 square mile) & Anacapa (3 islets, ~ 1.14 sq mi total area) to Santa Rosa Island (~ 83.12 sq mi) & Santa Cruz Island (~ 96.51 sq mi). For comparison, Aruba is ~69.08 sq mi, Bonaire is ~ 114 sq mi & St. Thomas (USVI) ~ 31.14 sq mi., so some Channel Islands rival popular Caribbean islands in size. Either set of Channel Islands represents a very large region with many and varied dive sites.

    Smaller islands (e.g.: Santa Barbara & San Miguel) offer less protection from sea conditions, and islands farther out west are more prone to harsh seas. Thus any plan to dive San Miguel (outside the California Bight) is tentative.

    Great Escape Dive Charters has a page showing the Channel Islands, additional dive destinations and ports so you can see relative sizes and positions, and a table with their view on sites suitable for variously experienced divers.

    The Northern Channel Islands

    Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa & San Miguel. Anacapa is closest to Ventura Harbor; Santa Cruz is slightly further, but closest to Santa Barbara (the city). Channel Island Dive Adventures (CIDA) has a page on the Northern Channel Islands (and diving them). The NCI’s are clustered much closer together than the SCI’s. 2 Popular multi-day live-aboard operators, Truth Aquatics (Santa Barbara) and the Peace (Ventura) are closer to the NCI’s.

    The Southern Channel Islands

    Santa Catalina, San Clemente, Santa Barbara (the island) & San Nicolas. Santa Catalina is closest to Los Angeles (e.g.: Long Beach, San Pedro), and the only Channel Island with a significant permanent non-military community. CIDA’s page on the Southern Channel Islands (and diving them).

    Seasoned and reputable dive operator Truth Aquatics runs trips to both Northern and Southern Channel Islands, some up to 5 days and hitting a number of islands. One of their representatives (Post #5) noted “Every island offers unique scuba diving locations, but San Clemente Island has the clearest and warmest waters of all the Channel Islands. A 5-Day to the Southern Channel Islands is probably one of our best trips. We have San Clemente Island as our first destination and on our way back to Santa Barbara we will dive different islands... San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina, Anacapa... it's a great trip!”

    Seeing no major advantage to braving the colder waters of the Northern, I opted for the Southern. With no guarantees a day boat would always have enough divers to make the trip, keeping costs down, a desire to hit more than one island and the strong reputation of Truth Aquatics, I opted for their August 2016 5-day ‘Limited Load’ Southern Channel Islands live-aboard trip (I also heard good things about another boat, the Peace). I asked about hiring a private dive guide and was referred to one, but deemed it too expensive.

    Note: Channel Islands Dive Adventures (CIDA) is a home-based business that organizes trips on varied dive boats (e.g.: Truth, Vision, Conception, Peace, Explorer, Asante) from a range of ports. If you want to book trips with an organizer who might be a consistent presence as you try varied boats, this might do it.

    Note #2: I later asked on Scuba Board how boat diving the Northern vs. Southern Channel Islands compares; Merxlin (Post #6) opined the Northern typically have lower viz. & temp.s, but more varied marine life, and noted Catalina Island had a horrendous growth of invasive sargassum seaweed at the time; MaxBottomtime (Posts #2 & #4) noted the Southern are usually a bit warmer and can have better viz. (esp. San Clemente Island), but the Northern have greater invertebrate life (such as a few different nudibranchs than along the mainland and Southern C.I.s, plus large anemones typical of the central coast to Alaska).
     
    Dan likes this.
  5. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,580
    6,312
    Useful Online Resources:

    California Diving News – Dive Boat Reviews.

    Their home page has an Upcoming Boat Dives – Scheduled Events listing a range of destinations & dive boats to choose from; for more detail, check out their Calendar of Trips section. The site has other content.

    California Diver Online.

    A large online resource with a lot of fine content. I’ve skimmed it for these articles to save you time.

    A Florida Diver in California: Diving the West End of the I-10.

    Scuba Diving California…for the first time!

    Diving The Northern Channel Islands: The Galapagos of California.

    Channel Islands offer world class diving in our own backyard.

    Scuba Diving the Channel Islands: The Mystique of San Miguel.

    Santa Barbara Island: the smallest Channel Island provides big rewards.

    A Journey into Catalina Island’s Underwater Park.

    Diving Aboard The Truth: California Diving At Its Best.

    Diving Begg Rock, San Nicholas, and San Clemente with Channel Islands Dive Adventures.

    Taking A Closer Look at La Jolla Shores.

    My First Scuba Dives in California Waters – Diving Monterey , December 2013.

    Monterey’s Breakwater: A great dive for any level.

    Unusual Name, Great Diving: Diving Monterey’s ‘Ballbuster.’

    Shore Diving Monterey: Exploring the Point Lobos State Reserve.

    Carmel’s Monastery Beach Features Natural Beauty, Rugged Diving.

    Scuba Diving The Far North (of California, that is): Early Hole, Smith River.

    A Beautiful Sunday For Diving On Monterey’s Silver Prince.

    Dive Report: Diving Monterey on the Silver Prince.

    Redwood Forests of the Sea: Diving California’s Beautiful Kelp Forests.

    Beauty and the Beast on the High Seas – Scuba Diving California’s Oil Rigs.

    Off the Beaten Path: Diving in the Less Known Locations in California.

    Diving the Farallon Islands: Getting My Feet Wet with White Sharks.

    Southern California Brain-storm’in. A Scuba Board thread where several divers fed me info. on making sense of the options to aid planning a 1st time trip to dive Southern California.

    Weather, Ocean & Diving Conditions in Southern California (Great Escape Dive Boat). Gives regional & seasonal viz. & water temp. ranges.

    Catalina Island Info. (Excellent Scuba Board thread with practical info. for visitors).

    Completely new to Catalina Island diving.

    Divebums – a San Diego Dive Website – I linked the visitor’s page on general diving conditions in San Diego, which includes a discussion on local shore diving viz. (more limited than I’d have guessed).

    ShoreDiving.com’s section on the west coast U.S., including California.

    Undercurrent.org (paid subscription service with a large base of dive op. reviews worldwide I find useful for research). Here’s a report on an Aug. 2015 5 day limited load Southern Channel Islands trip via Truth Aquatics’ boat the Vision.

    The Southern California Bight – by Alexa Johnson, available online at the Catalina Island Conservancy. Includes a reprinted graphic from Natural History of the Islands of California (71) by A. A. Schoenherr, et. al., showing regional major current patterns.

    Important Stuff the New Monterey Diver Needs to Know – by Chuck Tribolet. A practical ‘reality check’ for mainstream divers (e.g.: trained/experienced in benign tropical conditions or quarries) considering diving the Monterey region.

    Online Video Resources:

    Video - Diving the Channel Islands out of Santa Barbara with Truth Aquatics.

    Video Tour of Truth Aquatics boat, the Vision.

    Educational talk about the dive boat business by Truth Aquatics owner Glen Fritzler.

    Books I Enjoyed:

    Lonely Planet Diving & Snorkeling Southern California & the Channel Islands. David Krival, 1st ed., June 2001.

    Diving Offshore California. Darren Douglass. December 1994.

    Diving And Snorkeling Guide to Southern California (including Los Angelas County, Orange County, San Diego County), 2nd ed. Darren Douglas. April 1994.

    An Often-mentioned Book I Don’t Have:

    A Diver’s Guide to Southern California’s Best Beach Dives. Dale Sheckler, Kim Sheckler.

    Note: you can get used books very cheap off Amazon.com vendors.
     
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  6. OrcaTorch

    OrcaTorch Dive Equipment Manufacturer

    217
    92
    A big job!Thanks for sharing.:wink:
     
  7. Dan

    Dan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    6,985
    4,538
    Very thorough report. Great write up! Our dive club is planning to go to Santa Catalina next year. I'll forward your review to the tour leader later. Thanks!
     
  8. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    9,689
    6,359
    I may have missed it, but out of all that research what itinerary did you settle on? I have dived Catalina and San Diego (where I lived when I learned to dive), but that's it. I never really enjoyed the conditions and won't be diving in CA again without a drysuit.
     
  9. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    6,956
    4,057
    Thank you very much, @drrich2 . I do plan to dive California someday. This is sure to be useful!
     
  10. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    10,036
    15,325
    Great Job!!

    Being from up here in NorCal, I am biased towards the diving up here. It seems to me that there is more sea life up north, but I'm not a scientist. However, if I was coming in from elsewhere, I would choose SoCal because their diving is much more predicable, access to sited is easier and there is a lot to see.



    Bob
     

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