Channel Islands

Heart Attack Reef

As the largest of all the Channel Islands, you would rightfully conclude that Santa Cruz Island has a great deal of excellent dive sites. Most of them are fairly well known as many show up on the charts or in guidebooks. Heart Attack Reef, however, does not. While not a virgin reef, fewer divers and fisherman visit here because of its absence from most published material. Yet I rate this location as one of the best on the backside of this big island. How it […]

Admiring Anacapa Island’s Coral Pinnacle

As the boat motored around to the seaward side of the West Island of Anacapa, I asked a fellow passenger if he heard the crew mention what dive site we were going to dive next. “Coral something or another,” he replied. Cool. I love diving the site known as Coral Reef for its many colorful invertebrates. But as the charter boat Vision’s skipper began to anchor, it looked to me like he was setting up too far from shore.   The dive briefing clarified my […]

Doctor’s Cove

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

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 […]

Catalina Island: Way Out West at Johnson Rock

As wonderful as Catalina Island diving is, seasoned divers can get complacent about visiting many of its great dive site “Been there, done that,” they say. Well it is time to scream “Westward Ho!” and head for the Wild West of Catalina Island. The best diving on the far west end of Catalina Island is the reef and kelp forest area around Johnson Rock. It is an exceptionally large area with fascinating underwater terrain to explore, and marine life to enjoy. But here’s the thing. […]

Dive Spot Anacapa Island: Lingcod Lair

It wasn’t just a dive trip. This was an adventure, as charter boat owner Jim Smith positioned the dive charter boat Raptor near a “mystery” dive site. Jim decided to explore this area because his electronic scan of the bottom showed an interesting profile of rocky ridges. Since the site had no official name, he proposed an informal contest of sorts to name the location. So I went off with a “name the dive site” goal in mind.  Descending to the bottom where the reefs […]

Avalon Underwater Park at Casino Point

If you have friends visiting from out of town that would enjoy a quick look at what Southern California diving has to offer, consider a trip to Catalina’s Avalon Underwater Park. You’ll find a lush kelp forest, mini-walls, pinnacles, sand flats, even a few small wrecks, and an abundance of marine life. It’ a “sampler platter” of California Channel Islands diving.  Avalon is a delightful and charming small town on Avalon Bay, Catalina Island — the only municipality on any of the Channel Islands. Catalina […]

On Fire at Flame Reef

When it comes to color, divers visiting California reef communities enter a world decorated in a vibrant mix of hues. Santa Cruz Island’s Flame Reef provides a classic case in point — it’s literally on fire with bright colors. Rising sharply from the bottom and a good distance away from any run-off from the island’s landmass, Flame Reef is bathed in clear, life-giving currents that usually flow west to east and help maintain the water clarity. From some vantage points it appears as if the […]

Dive Spot Anacapa Island: Channels

Considering it is so easy to reach, and that so many new divers get their first experiences here, Anacapa Island can hold some high-voltage dive experiences. Dive spots like Coral Reef and the extreme west end hold deep drop-offs and rapid currents. The sea lion dive is one of the best in all the Channel Islands with a constant barrage of dive-bombing pinnepeds. Then there is the rarely visited deep WWII Avenger airplane wreck. The “Channels” site is not one of these high-energy dives. In […]

Judith Reef

San Miguel Island is the most mysterious of all the eight Channel Islands. When not shrouded in clouds and fog and buffeted by strong bone-chilling prevailing northwest winds, Miguel appears like not much more than a sandy hump from a distance, quite stark in appearance. Underwater is a whole other story…Beneath the thick kelp canopies are bright colors to dazzle the eyes and keep cameras clicking. The furthest west of all the Channel Islands, it is brushed by much colder currents than its cousin islands […]

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