Channel Islands

West End

The extreme west end of the West Anacapa Island is one of the most exciting, colorful dive sites in all the Northern Channel Islands chain—and it is rarely dived. This is a very special place. Descending to the reefs you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the color provided by profuse growths of gorgonia. The more common and colorful gold and red gorgonia are present but what makes this place special is the uncommon purple gorgonian; uncommon, however, except for here. There are several mini-walls […]

Church Rock

Although Church Rock is just around the corner on the backside of Catalina, it seems like a world away. It often has the feel of the outer, remote islands — rough and rugged. There is plentiful game here, a fascinating reef to explore, and occasional surprise that is truly remarkable. Church Rock gains its name from its appearance at a distance with its rocky fingers looking much like the spires of a church. Its congregation must be birds and fish. On the rock, birds perch […]

Pyramid Head

Much of the diving activity at San Clemente Island takes place in Pyramid Cove, a large bay at the south end of the island. It’s understandable. The Pyramid Cove has numerous dive sites, but more importantly, it is generally calm and protected from prevailing northwest weather. But far superior, if you ask me, is a tiny cove to the east beside the oddly shaped rock for which all this area is named—Pyramid Head. Just likePyramid Cove, this area is still protected from prevailing northwest weather. […]

Santa Rosa: The Second Largest Channel Island

I’ve spent many a night on a dive boat anchored in Johnson’s Lee, one of Santa Rosa Island’s two somewhat sheltered anchorages. There is usually a nice but not spectacular sunset, then darkness. For a near-LAX-resident such as myself the nights seem particularly black; the only lights come from the stars above and any small boats anchored nearby. The silence is broken only by the ever-present wind and the sound of the boat’s generator. Twenty-six and a half miles off the California coast, Santa Rosa […]

West Eagle Reef

It’s all about animal action. Some places have it and others don’t. The west end of Eagle Reef has it—big time. Eagle reef is a large rocky structure, one-half mile long, 600 yards from shore. It is a series of pinnacles that come as little as three feet of the surface. Most of the shallow points, however, are in the 15 to 20 foot range. The west end of the reef tops out at 12 feet down and then rambles down steeply to as much […]

Blue Cavern East

Blue Cavern Point is a spectacular dive for two reasons. First, its geography is largely vertical, both above and below the water, and it puts it in a prime location to capture nutrient rich and life filled currents. Second, the point is a preserve that is the most carefully protected on the island. And it has been that way for some time. The USC Wrigley Marine Science Center carefully monitors the preserve, protecting its many scientific studies there, and shoos away anyone not willing to […]

Anacapa: Small in Size, Huge in Diving Adventures

I can’t think of Anacapa without thinking of the Winfield Scott. On a foggy night in December 1853 the side wheel steamer, laden with gold and more than 400 passengers, many of them also carrying gold, ran into a rock just off the north side of Middle Anacapa. There was a great deal of panic and confusion, but everyone was eventually ferried to a large rock 200yards off the island. This rock was estimated to be 50 yards long and 25 yards wide by one […]

Sutil Pass

Sutil Pass is a narrow pinch point between two land masses—Santa Barbara Island proper and the large rock Sutil Island. Only about 600 yards separate the shorelines but the water underneath holds reefs, kelp and abundance of marine life. The pinch point is a short-cut for marine life heading around the island and there is a lot of traffic. Like much of Santa Barbara Island, you can’t help but notice the barking of sea lions ashore. While the sea lions are not as numerous here […]

Clearly Dramatic Diving: Challenges and Rewards at Little Flower 

At-A-Glance  Skill Level: Intermediate or better, advanced for deep portions. Location: Southeast end of San Clemente Island, lee side. GPS N32°50.353’, W118°22.118’. Access: Boat only. Charter boats run to San Clemente Island from Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Pedro, Long Beach and San Diego. Several launch ramps along Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego coast are good for experienced private skippers. Occasionally closed due to US Navy activities. Entry and Exit: Easy in usually calm waters. Depth Range: 10 to 130 feet and beyond. Conditions: Currents […]

Virgin Reef

In last month’s issue of CDN, there was a single panel cartoon about finding someone’s secret spot. The diver said to the other, “Go North 30 yards, West 10 yards, South 30 yards, then East 10 yards.” Essentially saying there is no secret spot. But—there are a few spots that are rarely known. A recent dive aboard the Encore had us pulling up to the West End of Catalina Island and Captain Pam announcing “this is known as the ‘Secret Spot’ or ‘Virgin Reef.’” Dale […]

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