Channel Islands

Fraser Cove (a.k.a. West Cove)

Pulling into the cove, I could not help but notice the cross on the bluff. “THAT was not here before,” I thought. With some concern I asked Fidel, skipper of the dive boat Peace, as to its meaning. Unfortunately, It did involve the death of a diver in a diving accident, but not at this site. The cross was put in memorial of Steve Crombie, a free-diver of some note who died while free diving at Cortes Bank. But Fraser Cove was one of his […]

Santa Catalina: The Four Preps Didn’t Know the Half of It

Singing along with the Four Preps decades ago (don’t ask how many), little did I dream I’d ever travel “26 miles across the sea” to “Santa Catalina, the island of romance.” Nor did I ever imagine I’d scuba dive its cool waters. But I did and I have. And not just once but many times. I’ve hiked the hills of Avalon and even rented a golf cart (fun) to drive up them. I’ve browsed the museum in the Casino; explored the botanical garden; and taken […]

Flame Reef

Along the backside of the east end of Santa Cruz Island, crumbling sandstone cliffs drop to the sea. The shoreline is a broken pattern of thin sand beaches and rock faces. Offshore, much of the bottom is sand flats. But here and there are rock piles, reefs and patches of bedrock that make for interesting diving. Most of these sites can be easily found by the kelp that grows attached to them. Others are hidden, requiring a depth finder to locate. Flame Reef is one […]

Lover’s Cove

We photographers often have a dilemma when choosing between challenging dives and relaxing dives. Challenging dives often offer up superb subjects, but depths and currents can limit bottom time and opportunities for creativity. Relaxing dives offer more time to be creative, but with harder to find subjects. Nirvana is to find abundant, colorful marine life in calm, shallow water. Nirvana is Lover’s Cove. Lover’s Cove sits in the shadow of Harris Point at the extreme tip of San Miguel Island. This is a relatively remote […]

Shag Rock

It is halibut hunting time again and dive shops buzz with where the hot spots are for the big “flatties.” The halibut are already running and it looks to be a good season. There are going to be a lot of good spots this year, but the north side of Santa Barbara Island, around Shag Rock, is likely to be a good location as it so often is. Shag Rock is a large islet 200 yards off the north side of Santa Barbara Island. Nearby, […]

San Clemente: Island of Diving Diversity

Of the eight California Channel Islands, San Clemente is my favorite. True, it’s a five-to six-hour boat trip one way but it’s worth the time. The water is consistently clear here and, since Clemente is the southernmost of the islands, it’s usually warmer as well. There’s plenty of diversity and sites suitable for all levels of divers, from novice to advanced. You can visit wrecks (the Butler, Gregory, Koka), deep reefs (Castle Rock) and even walls (Little Flower, Fish Hook). There are caverns, too, (Swiss […]

Big Rock

When you have a 112-foot tall rock that drops vertically into the sea, who can resist diving around it to see what lies beneath? Big Rock, off the north side of the west end of Santa Cruz Island, is just that—one chip off the old block, a real big chip. The prevailing weather comes right at the rock, so it is not too often you can dive here. The waves batter away at the monolith, cracking away large chunks that fall into the sea. These […]

Arrow Point West

The western third of Catalina Island is commonly referred to as the “West End” and some of the best, yet less frequented, dive sites can be found here. In general, there is more game, more fish and more color. The weather can be rougher here but calm days are not unusual. A prominent landmark and great dive in this area is Arrow Point. The east side of the point is more protected, but when the west side is calm the diving is best here. At […]

Sharkbite Rock

Sharkbite Rock gets its name from the rock formations on the hill above the water, looking much like a shark taking a bite out of the hillside. That is one thing that Catalina Island has, rock formations, plenty of them—both above and below the water line. Sharkbite Rock is near the dive site Italian Gardens and has much of the same underwater topography. The area is filled with larger boulders of all types and sizes. Creating mini reefs surrounded by large areas of sand. These […]

The Largest Channel Island Has a Colorful History and a Variety of Diving Adventures Looking east from Pelican Bay

The history of California’s Channel Islands is fun. It’s chock full of interesting characters; men who made a living salvaging shipwrecks; a Nicoleno Indian woman who spent 18 years on San Nicolas Island with only wild dogs for company; and a man who proclaimed himself The King of San Miguel Island, to name a few. Among the colorful inhabitants of Santa Cruz Island was Margaret Holden Eaton, a woman way ahead of her time. She lived on the island with her husband, Ira, and child, […]

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