San Diego County

A Good Site, By Any Name: Three Fingers Reef, 
7-Fathom Reef or Tower Reef

Currents are the lifeblood of any healthy reef system, especially in California. In a current, the leading edge of the reef is the most fascinating. There always seems to be a lot of fish life and the reef bustles with activity. Three Fingers Reef is bathed in nutrient-rich currents, creating an underwater garden of color, life and activity. This spot is also frequently called 7-fathom or Tower Reef (named for the water tower on shore). No matter how you call it, it’s a beautiful dive. […]

A Beach Dive With a Bit of Everything: 
La Jolla Submarine Canyon

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Novice to advanced Location: Water entry at several locations but the most frequently used is at Vallecitos Street south of the lifeguard tower at the south end of Kellogg Park off La Jolla shores. Access: Sandy beach from a free parking lot. Entry and Exit: Generally easy across a sandy beach surf entry. Avoid in larger surf. Depth Range: 10 to 50 feet along the sand flats then stair step down or steep drop, depending on location, to over sport diving limits. […]

Ancient Artistry: Point Loma’s Sea Cliffs

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Advanced Location: Approximately 1 mile offshore of Point Loma running parallel to the shore. Easy to spot on depth finder. Generally along the seaward edge of the kelp forest. Directly west of the Cabrillo Light House has some excellent walls, even deep cracks and crevices. Access: Boat dive. Charter boats depart nearby Mission Bay. Public boat ramps there as well. Entry and Exit: Boats only but heavy swell can sometimes affect the area. Depth Range: 65 to 115 feet. Conditions: Surge in […]

Scoring a Satisfying Dive at Point Loma’s Goal Posts

One the largest continuous kelp forests in all of coastal Southern California is off Point Loma, San Diego. Depending on seasons and seas the Point Loma kelp forest can extend dozens of square miles. And not only is this forest thick and lush, but it’s also teeming with marine life.  A great place to experience the Point Loma kelp forest is at a spot known as Goal Posts. Much of the bottom off Point Loma is flat rock bottom. While it supports the kelp holdfasts, […]

Mission Beach’s NOSC Tower Wreck

The ocean has a way of taking massive metallic creations of man, smashing and tearing them, and throwing them to the sea floor in a heap. Then in its own sweet time, it turns the wreckage into a colorfully decorated thing of beauty. Such is the case with the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC) Tower off Mission Beach in San Diego. The Tower began its life as a 100-foot tall steel structure carefully secured to the sea floor in 1959. Although having nothing to do […]

The Wreck of the Ruby E

The Ruby E is adorned with colorful marine life, but alas, the grand old lady is beginning to show her age. After all, she’s been serving as an artificial reef since 1989. And she was no spring chicken when she was sent to the bottom, having been built in 1934. She had first seen service as a U.S. Coast Guard cutter under the name Cyane. Her later occupation was that of a salvage vessel under the name Ruby E. Eventually too old and obsolete for […]

Wreck of the Yukon

Technically, a shipwreck is a vessel that sank accidentally. And, since the sinking of the Yukon happened “accidentally on purpose” one might argue that the vessel is not an authentic shipwreck. What’s more, it’s outfitted with “fake” propellers and guns. But ask any diver that’s explored the Yukon and there’s no denying — the thrill of diving here is quite real. The dive site Yukon is a gem of Southern California diving. But let’s take a step back and tell the whole story. The Yukon […]

Wreck of Ruby E

Although it was all planned out, the actual process was a bit comical. Slated to be the second edition to the now famous “Wreck Alley” off San Diego, the Ruby E just refused to sink. It was figured with all the valves open she would succumb to the sea about mid-day and divers would be on her by late afternoon. But as the afternoon wore on and shadows lengthened, it was becoming obvious it was going to take more. Project coordinator Al Bruton, then a […]

Train Wheels

After playing a wicked round of e-mail and phone tag with my dive buddy Steve, we finalized our plans. I arrived at Shelter Island to see Steve waving his arms and guiding me over towards his new boat. Steve is a seasoned diver with well over a thousand dives logged in the Point Loma area. Today Steve is eager to take me to a place called “The Train Wheels.” Navy jets ran with their afterburners blazing right over us as we sped out of the […]

In Search of Purple Hydrocoral in Los Coronados Islands, Mexico

Last November, my dive buddy and I were invited by two friends, both experienced boaters, to check out the fields of Purple Hydrocoral, off the South end of the Northern most Island of the Coronados Island chain just over the border in Mexican waters, 17-20 miles from San Diego’s Mission Bay, depending which island you visit. The fields of Purple Hydrocoral are actually just a few hundred yards South of a site well-known to San Diego dive charters, called “Keyhole,” a large rocky arch which […]

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