South Coast

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 […]

The Kelp Forest at Corral Beach

Driving west from Los Angeles on Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), travelers will enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and long stretches of sandy beachfront punctuated by rocky points and dotted with luxury waterfront homes. There’s a lot of natural beauty to behold, yet many divers may barely notice it as they make their way to the most famous and largest kelp forest in this area, at Leo Carillo State Beach. Or perhaps they’re on their way farther north to catch a […]

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. […]

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 […]

Dive Site Ventura County: La Jenelle Park

On April 13, 1970 the La Jenelle was a 466-foot, 1,000-passenger luxury liner moored outside Port Hueneme harbor when a storm changed her fate. Ripped from her mooring, she ended up aground near the mouth of the harbor. After repeated attempts to free the vessel failed, the La Jenelle received an unfortunate makeover — Navy Seabees cut away her superstructure and placed large boulders in and around the hull, turning the onetime oceangoing vessel into a permanent part of the Port Hueneme jetty. Portions of […]

Leo Carrillo State Beach

If you’re looking to escape the craziness of Los Angeles, drive up the Pacific Coast Highway toward Malibu and in less than an hour you’ll arrive at Leo Carrillo State Beach.Located 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica, Leo Carrillo has more than a mile and a half of beach. The park offers several dive sites to explore and is suitable for all skill levels. The kelp forest at Leo Carrillo is absolutely huge, and substantial reefs extend beyond the kelp cover into deeper water down […]

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 […]

Dive Spot: Malaga Cove

Unfortunately, during the late summer through the early fall, occasional tropical storms off Baja kick up large swells that land on south-facing beaches in Southern California. The large surf makes most beach diving difficult, if not impossible. All is not lost for avid beach divers. When south-facing beaches are getting hit with the southerly swells, where do you head? For a north-facing beach, of course! But where in Southern California do you find a north-facing beach? Only two spots: One is La Jolla Cove and […]

Diving the AOP: California Tropical Diving

I ran into a group of divers recently and asked them if they have been in the water lately. One had, but he lamented that the water was very, very cold. The others chimed in that they were waiting for warm water. How sad that these divers were sitting on the sidelines because of a few degrees. Okay, to some, those degrees can mean the difference between a great dive and misery. But I have the answer for the diver who wants to be a […]

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