Orange County

Off the Beaten Path in Laguna: Woods Cove

If anywhere along the southern California coastline can be called a Mecca for beach divers, it would be the Laguna Beach area along Orange County’s southern shores. The reasons are obvious: clear water, easy access, and an abundance of marine life that’s hard to match. It is not unusual to see a hundred or more divers assaulting the beaches here on any given weekend during the summer. Not to worry though. Laguna Beach offers enough quantity and variety of dive spots where one can obtain […]

Coast Highway Classic: Laguna’s Aliso Beach 

Laguna Beach offers some of the best beach diving in all of southern California. Most diving is immediately north of the main part of town. Countless divers have enjoyed the underwater wonders of Divers Cove, Shaw’s Cove, Crescent Bay, Picnic Beach, and other sites. But seasoned divers know there is more to the south of town. Perhaps the dive site with the easiest beach access is at Aliso Beach Park. Cruising along southward as you head toward Dana Point, Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) dips down to […]

Deadman’s Reef

Deadman's Reef
Deadman's Reef

Deadman’s Reef is among the best beach dives in all Laguna Beach, perhaps all of Orange County. Blizzards of fishes swirl about and the majority of marine species common to southern California waters can be found there. Marine life rivals that of great dive sites out at the Channel Islands, and water clarity is often on par with Catalina Island. So what’s the flip side? You’ll have to do a bit of work to get there, as the reef is about 300 to 400 yards […]

Exploring Corona Del Mar’s Little Corona

Repeatedly diving a particular location has its benefits. You get to know the “lay of the land,” individual animals, seasons, and ecological shifts. But at Little Corona the ocean throws something new at us every time we dive there.  Our first dive there years ago produced a huge horn shark at over four-feet long. Subsequent dives over the years have produced large halibut, big bat rays, marauding sea lions, dolphins, diving cormorant birds, as well as the more common but just as delightful congregations of […]

Diver’s Cove and Fisherman’s Cove Loop

We headed out for Laguna Beach on a bright sunny morning with the intent of diving Shaw’s Cove. I love diving Shaw’s Cove. Problem is, so does everybody else.  With no parking available we headed in the direction of nearby Diver’s Cove. To my pleasant surprise there was a parking spot directly in front of the short stairway to the beach. Silly as it might sound, this is how our dive site was chosen this day by availability of parking. Along this relatively small section […]

Bountiful Corona Del Mar State Beach

Divers who enjoy hunting their own seafood from South Orange County waters should consider a trip to Corona Del Mar State Beach. While this beach is part of the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area, spearfishing of finfish as well as hand grabbing lobster and urchin hunting is allowed. And it is also an appealing dive for sightseeing or practicing underwater photography. Spearfishers will find hunting the barred sand bass — relatives of the coveted calico, or “kelp” bass — the most rewarding. Some are […]

Orange County Dive Spot: Moss Cove

It had probably been about seven years or more since we’d visited Moss Cove, so I was excited to visit the area again, especially since it’s been a part of the new Laguna Marine Protected Area (MPA) for several months. Formerly a popular hunting area, I wondered if its new protected status would yield an uptick in biomass after only a short time. The first thing I noticed in the shallow area is that the kelp forest appeared to have grown. Was this a result […]

San Clemente’s Wheeler North Reef

Artificial reefs are nothing new to Southern California, but the Wheeler North Reef in San Clemente raises the bar in terms of its size and scope.    Named after Wheeler J. North, a noted marine biologist who studied California’s coastal kelp forests, its creation stems from a 1989 Marine Review Committee report that found the cloudy water discharged by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s (SONGS) cooling system drifted south, blocked sunlight from a natural kelp bed and damaged about 180 acres of the habitat. […]

Laguna Beach’s Best (and Easiest) Beach Dives

While it can hold its challenges, beach diving California can be very rewarding and even easy. There are several advantages to beach diving. First of all it is cheap! For the cost of an air fill and perhaps some quarters for parking you can have a great underwater experience. The schedule is flexible. If you want, you don’t have to get up at 0-dark-thirty to catch the boat. Sleep in a bit then hit the beach. Or perhaps you don’t have an entire day to […]

A.C.E. Becomes Southern California’s Newest Dive Site

Five years after the 58-foot, steel-hulled A.C.E. drum seiner sank off the coast of San Clemente, a team of divers from Beach Cities Scuba (BCS) recently located it and prepared the site for recreational diving.  Now buoyed about five miles south of the Dana Point Harbor, the A.C.E. offers divers an opportunity to explore a new wreck that’s roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.  Completely intact and resting on its port side with her mast pointing away from shore, an ecosystem is thriving […]

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