San Clemente

Window Pane Pinnacle

It’s like an underwater mountaintop, a rock spire reaching from the depths to within 25 feet of the surface. The top is barely the size of a two-car garage. The ocean side is a vertical rock face, plunging to over 130 feet and then steeply thereafter. Fish swirl about the monolith seemingly unaware of the magnitude of their underwater home. The Window Pane Pinnacle at San Clemente Island is one of the most spectacular dives in all the Channel Islands. The front side of San […]

Pyramid Cove

There’s a spot in the Channel Islands that offers a little bit of everything for divers. And by “everything” I mean consistently good underwater visibility — 60 to 80 feet and often over 100 feet — lush kelp forests, a reef with colorful fish life and fascinating marine creatures, arches and tunnels to explore, and at deeper depths, a wall. Oh, and bugs, too. At Pyramid Cove at the south end of San Clemente Island, you can see all this, and probably a couple dozen […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]


The frontside of San Clemente Island, for the most part, runs in a straight line to the southeast. Steep slopes or cliffs plunge into the sea and the slope continues underwater. There are some prominent and exiting dives here such as Fish Hook, Window Pane, Wagon Tracks and more. But here and there are also fringing reefs along this coast. A few points mark larger reef structures offshore that are by no means hidden but rather given away by heavy kelp growth. Hole-In-The-Wall is just […]

Little Flower

On the northeast end of San Clemente Island, Little Flower is one of those protected coves that’s nearly always calm. And, because it has something for everyone, novice to advanced, it’s quite popular with divers and the dive charter boats that ferry them to and from the mainland. The shoreline extends 25 or more yards underwater, thus, the shallows are rocky and shrouded in palm kelp. Exploring this area is like a treasure hunt. The rocks and kelp hide and provide shelter for fish—including calico […]

East End Reef

Hello, my name is Ken and I’m a Wallaholic. I LOVE diving walls. And that’s only one reason that I love to dive at San Clemente Island. But it’s also a reason that I really like to dive at East End Reef, located at the southeastern tip of Clemente. It’s not a dive site you can get to every time. And it’s not exactly close, as it’s about a 60-mile run from L.A. (six hours) and roughly the same from San Diego, so it’s definitely […]

Inside the Outside Boiler

If you truly want to appreciate a dive site, it’s nice to know how it got its name. Some are obvious, like Three Sisters. Some are not so obvious, like Shag Rock. And others are obvious if you know the back-story. Such is the case with Inside the Outside Boiler. You’ll find this site on the eastern side of Pyramid Cove, which is along the southern edge of San Clemente Island. In the cove, there are a couple of boilers (rocks that break that surface) […]

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