Catalina

A Gem of a Dive Site: Catalina’s Multi-faceted Bird Rock

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In our humble opinion Bird Rock is among the best dive sites on Catalina Island. The underwater terrain varies from shallow reefs, a steep drop off down a wall, and even an underwater arch. We have been on dive charter boats at Bird Rock with a range of skill levels from certification classes to advanced divers and every body seems to come up smiling. The west side of the domed rock surface gives away to a gently sloping rock bottom with small ledges. Depending on […]

Nooks and Crannies

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In the multitude of holes and mini-caves we found numerous lobster, an octopus, and a couple of moray eels. Mountains of rock rise from the bottom dotted with thousands of bright blue and red blue-banded gobies and here and there dazzling Spanish shawl nudibranchs.  This was our third dive of the day. So far it had been an exceptional day of diving but it seems that our dive charter boat, Sundiver Express, had saved the best dive for last. While it is a great dive […]

The Wreck of the SueJac

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Many divers have an affinity for shipwrecks. We seem to be drawn to examples of how man tries to tame the ocean with our so-called superior intellect and crafty hands only to find those creations dashed and sent to a watery grave. Through the power of the sea, and man’s folly, we divers often benefit with fun dive sites.  The problem we often run into is that these hulks are often difficult to reach, either through horizontal distance from shore or vertically in terms of […]

Isthmus Reef Offers Fun for All

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Cruising along the base of the west wall of Isthmus Reef I stumbled across a most remarkable find — a four-foot long horn shark! While horn sharks are by no means uncommon, especially at this reef, seeing one this large was highly unusual.  The horn shark gets its name from the spiny “horn” protruding from the top of its dorsal. When the shark is small, the sharp point serves as a deterrent to predators. Later in life the spine serves to help the shark stay […]

Lulu Reef

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Lulu Reef is a series of three rock pinnacles inside Eagle Reef on the mainland of Catalina Island’s west end. Because of its proximity to Eagle Reef, it sometimes does not get the attention it deserves. All three rocks can be explored on a single dive. The main pinnacle is in the middle of a small rocky point. Rising from a depth of 60 feet to within just 12 feet of the surface, it is the largest (about the size of a large house) and […]

Little Gibraltar High Spot

As great as they are, dive charter boats have to bypass some unique spots simply because you can only put so many divers on a small reef at one time. One such small yet delightful reef is Little Gibraltar High Spot on the mainland side of Catalina Island. We had the pleasure of visiting this site with a small group of divers on the charter boat King Neptune. The reef is more of a spire than just a high spot. Peaking out at 35 feet […]

Going Deep at Catalina’s Farnsworth Bank

Ask any experienced Southern California diver what they consider the most spectacular dive in all the Channel Islands and it’s likely you’ll hear Farnsworth Bank mentioned. A lot. Farnsworth is series of tall underwater mountains and sharp pinnacles approximately 1.6 miles off the backside of Catalina Island. Surrounding waters are deep and the area is constantly bathed in clear oceanic currents. It is the main mountain at a depth of about 55 feet that is the most often dived. There are several other nearby pinnacles […]

Butterfly Hunting at Crane Point

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Much of Southern California diving is considered temperate with Catalina surface water temperatures topping out at 70 degrees Fahrenheit mid-summer and falling to the high 50s F in the winter. They’d hardly be considered “tropical” yet the area is home to butterflyfish. If you look in the right spot they are not hard to find. And that right spot is Crane Point in the Rock Quarry area on Catalina Island.  It is believed the Scythe butterflyfish first appeared at this location during the El Niño […]

Doctor’s Cove

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We’d already made two great dives along the west end of Catalina and our group was admittedly a little tired, but when offered the chance to make a third dive at Doctor’s Cove we all jumped at the chance. Why? Because a dive at Doctor’s Cove is a rare treat. The reefs surrounding Emerald Bay’s Indian Rock are known for lush kelp beds rich with sea life and excellent visibility, and as a result, Doctor’s Cove is often overlooked. That’s too bad, especially since it’s […]

No Clubs Required: Exploring Catalina’s Golf Balls Reef

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Catalina Island, in particular the town of Avalon, is a haven for residents and tourists alike, because it offers great weather and a wide range of leisure activities, including scuba diving — and golf. Ironically, the dive site known as “golf balls” isn’t located near a golf course. It’s below a bluff that local golfers use as a makeshift driving range.  Before entering the water here the charter boat captain offered a challenge: the buddy team that surfaced with the most golf balls would win […]

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