Channel Islands

Blue Cavern Point

While bureaucrats argue where the future of marine preserves are in Southern California, there are a few jewels of preserves here and there that have existed for many years as shining examples of just how important these areas can be. The crown jewel at Catalina Island has to be the preserve at Blue Cavern Point. Sheephead and calico bass are fat and sassy, approaching divers without fear. I especially like the big male sheephead with their bulbous heads and pronounced jaw and big teeth. Huge […]

Black Cavern

Santa Barbara Island (SBI) has an awful lot going for it. It’s got sea lions (obviously—and probably its best-known feature) but it’s also jam-packed with great dive sites all around its perimeter. One of my personal favorites is called Black Cavern. Now let’s understand from the git-go that this is a somewhat advanced dive as it involves depth and an overhead environment. So this is probably not a site you want to try fresh out of your Open Water class. But that doesn’t mean once […]

Wreck of the Winfield Scott

It was a dark December night with pea soup fog that caused the high speed contact with the reefs of Anacapa Island that were enough to end the short but colorful career of the Gold Rush steamer, Winfield Scott. The loss of the Winfield Scott 154 years ago provided California divers with a truly unique dive experience. The Winfield Scott was built in New York in 1850. She was a four-deck, three-masted side-wheel steamer, 225-feet in length with a beam of nearly 35 feet. She […]

Ken’s Cave

I have to start with a confession: I stole this cave years ago from Jerry Shapiro who owned the Bold Contender (which is now the Pacific Star). On a trip to Santa Barbara, Jerry told us he’d found this shallow tunnel and would we like to dive it? We said, “Sure,” and I was entranced. When we asked what it was called, Jerry said, “If you like it, it’s called Jerry’s Cave. If you don’t like it, it’s called Ken’s Cave.” When I came back, […]

Catalina’s Best Fish Dives

As a child one of my earliest memories was begging my Uncle Lloyd to buy me a fish tank so that I could “see underwater.” He relented, acquiring for me a handful for goldfish in a big jar with I proceeded to stare at for hours on end. Give me a bunch of fish in front of my face and I am still satisfied for hours. And easy-to-get-to Catalina Island is one of the best places to do just that. When I am ready to […]

Tyler Bight

Dropping down through the thick kelp the numerous black rockfish in the water column parted. The first thing that caught my eye on the bottom was a red abalone. It was fat and sassy, just sitting there out in the open. After snapping off a few photos I demonstrated to my buddy a trick I learned a number of years ago where you actually get an abalone to dance. Breaking off a kelp frond I wiggled it in front of the abalone’s face (if you […]

Farnsworth’s Yellow Wall

Go to Jerusalem and you’ll want to see the Wailing Wall. Go to China and you’ll want to see the Great Wall. Go to Tavenui, Fiji, and you’ll want to see the White Wall. And when you go to Farnsworth Bank on Catalina’s backside, you’ll want to see the Yellow Wall. The Yellow Wall is a section of the reef at Farnsworth that’s covered with small, yellow anemones (Epizoanthus scotinus). And they’re everywhere. They start at a depth of about 80 feet, extend down easily […]

Johnson’s Rocks

I had died and gone to nudibranch heaven. I love chromodorids. Their beautiful violet bodies are accented with bright yellow stripes. They are, unfortunately, not common. On this dive At Johnson’s Rocks I eventually saw six! Three of them were an inch and a half long, large specimens by any standard, all on the same rock! On that same dive I saw countless Spanish shawls and a Hermissenda the size of my thumb, the biggest I have ever seen! Needless to say, my camera was […]

Crane Point

A lot of times when folks dive Catalina, they go to the “usual spots” like Isthmus Reef, Ship & Bird Rock, Eagle Reef, or Indian Rock. But there are other great spots as well that don’t see divers on a regular basis. One such location is Crane Point, south-ish (to the left as you’re looking at the island from the water) from Blue Cavern and Sea Fan Grotto. It features a large platform that used to house a quarry crane and from where the site […]

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