Channel Islands

Catalina’s Top 3 Rarely Visited Dive Sites

I love diving Catalina Island. It is one of my favorite places in the whole world to dive. But after having dived Catalina thousands of times, it can seem at times to get a little old; however, there are excellent dive sites that are rarely visited. Why theses sites are rarely visited is quite simple: they are definitely advanced sites. The reasons are twofold — strong currents and depths. While not exactly “secret,” these charter boats will sometimes hesitate on taking divers here unless firmly […]

Long Point, Catalina Island

The huge moray was friendly to the point of scary. It came right out of its hole directly at me only to turn and head toward Kim. This was Psycho, a long time resident of Pirate’s Cove just on the inside of Long Point, Catalina Island. While Psycho is gone, his (or maybe her) cousins remain. This is one of the best spots to see moray eels at Catalina Island. But the dive site of Long Point has much more to offer than just friendly […]

Fraggle Rock

I’m sure all of you remember the famous Jim Henson of Muppets fame (Sesame Street). Do you remember his children’s show know as “Fraggle Rock”? It lasted for about five years in the 1980s and featured a large cast of characters in a variety of shapes, sizes, personalities, and colors, all living in the same community. Not only was the show entertaining for children but adults loved it as well (this one included). It is no wonder I was immediately attracted to this dive site […]

Farnsworth Bank: Purple Hydrocoral and Much More

The engine was off and the Conception was anchored when I awoke in the wee hours of the morning. I rolled out of my bunk and stumbled topside. The ocean was calm, with only a slight swell, and there was no other boat in sight. Off in the distance I saw the outline of familiar mountains. We were anchored on the backside of Catalina, on a fabled site called Farnsworth Bank.  While conditions appeared favorable, it was early. When the sun rose we might find […]

Rock Quarry

I visit some dive sites with high expectations. Some meet these expectations. Other dive sites don’t have a big reputation, but they grow on me over time, eventually becoming one of my favorites. The Rock Quarry at Catalina Island falls into the latter category. The Rock Quarry lies west of Long Point and Goat Harbor, but east of Sea Fan Grotto and Two Harbors. Because it is well protected, conditions are usually calm here. I like to divide this dive site up into three areas: […]

Morse Point

Santa Cruz Island is a special place in the Southern California ocean. It is a place of transition. Currents mix, converge and collide here in different ways depending on the season and climatic shifts. What you find at Santa Cruz Island is a mixture of temperate and cold water species of fish and invertebrates. This is the sampler platter of California’s underwater world. Here you see bright orange garibaldi typical to southern warmer waters alongside bright white-spotted rose anemones that you usually only see in […]

Bat Ray Cove

Even after decades of diving, most of it in California, there is still quite a few local marine animals I haven’t seen underwater. A mola-mola, for instance. A soupin shark for another. I could go on, but it makes me grouchy. How is it fair that other, less experienced divers have seen what I haven’t? One fish that is no longer on my unseen/unphotographed list, however, is the leopard shark. I encountered five last summer (or perhaps it was one animal five times) in San […]

Wreck of the Toro

On the night of November 21, 2004, a sudden and powerful storm came up out of the northeast heaving the seas into massive turbulence at the normally calm Isthmus Cove on Catalina Island. The skipper of the 37-foot Bertram yacht Toro became frightened for himself and his four passengers and decided to head for the backside of the island. The skipper did not give his radar a chance to warm up properly and underestimating the power of the wind, the Toro was driven up on […]

Gull Island West

Unexpected marine encounters are what make a dive truly special. Fortunate for us in California, that is a frequent occurrence. Such was the case of our most recent dive to Gull Island, a rocky outcropping off the backside of Santa Cruz Island. We dropped down through the kelp forest to a moderately slopped bottom at 45 feet. Cruising west as the divemaster had suggested, we ran into the mini-wall that ran approximately north-south. The water clarity was pretty decent, about 40 feet, as we followed […]

Little Gibraltar Reef

I just love underwater pinnacles. Jutting up from the bottom they create a vertical surface that bask in the currents where marine life thrives. Offshore and to the west of Little Gibraltar Point on the frontside of Catalina is just such a spot. While the site is generally calm and protected, divers rarely visit here. The location is on the small side and can generally be covered in just one dive. It is actually a pair of pinnacles, one topping out at 33 feet and […]

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