Dive Spots

High Education – and Entertainment – at Hopkins Reef

Hopkins Marine Station

Have you ever thought about diving in a school? No, I’m not talking about being one with the fishes. I’m talking about a real school, with laboratories and classrooms. Well, if you ever dived at Hopkins Reef, off Point Cabrillo, that’s sort of what you’ve done. There is an extensive reef system directly offshore of the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. Stanford University operates the lab named after one of its co-founders, Timothy Hopkins. Here students and professors have the opportunity to learn more […]

Fast, Fun Action at Anacapa’s Sea Lion Beach

Anacapa Sea Lion Beach

No animals encountered in the California underwater world are quite as playful as sea lions. Their big dark puppy-dog eyes will melt your heart. Their antics and playfulness will make you laugh into your regulator. And they will challenge your underwater photo skills to the max. Encounters can happen almost anywhere along the coast and out at the islands but only a few locations hold the guarantee that you will see sea lions. One of these locations, and the easiest to get to, is at […]

A Gem of a Dive Site: Catalina’s Multi-faceted Bird Rock

CDN 316 Bird Rock

In our humble opinion Bird Rock is among the best dive sites on Catalina Island. The underwater terrain varies from shallow reefs, a steep drop off down a wall, and even an underwater arch. We have been on dive charter boats at Bird Rock with a range of skill levels from certification classes to advanced divers and every body seems to come up smiling. The west side of the domed rock surface gives away to a gently sloping rock bottom with small ledges. Depending on […]

Carmel’s Butterfly House Beach

Butterfly House, Carmel

The Monterey and Carmel Bays have a great number of fantastic beach dives. However, most divers tend to visit the more popular sites along the inner Monterey Bay and Southern Carmel Bay, while ignoring some of the more interesting and off-the-beaten-path beaches. One of my favorite, yet seldom visited sites is Butterfly House Beach. The Butterfly House entry is located on the protected, south side of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and takes its name from the house with the funky, wing-like roof. This house was […]

The Winfield Scott and Wizard Hat

Winfield Scott wreck

By 1853 the California Gold Rush was well underway, with commerce up and down the coast at full speed. On December 1, 1853, the side-wheel steamer Winfield Scott, loaded with cargo and with 450 passengers onboard, ran aground on a rocky reef off Anacapa Island. The ship and practically all its cargo were lost, but thankfully the passengers and crew survived. Today not much remains of the vessel but even so the chunks of wreckage make for interesting exploration. Gold coins have been found here. […]

Challenges and Rewards at Egg Rock

Egg Rock Dive Site Channel Islands

Visiting remote dive sites can be challenging due to weather and sea conditions, but we often find that the more remote the site, the more rewarding the adventure in terms of underwater visibility and abundance of marine life. Well-known southern California examples of such locations include Farnsworth Bank, Begg Rock, Cortez Bank, and Wilsons Rock. Distance from shore and “sporting” sea conditions make them less frequented by divers. Egg Rock is almost unheard of among diving circles. It sits nearly smack-dab in the middle of […]

A Cavern in Carmel Bay: Brian’s Crack

Brian's Crack dive site

We divers are nothing if we are not explorers. No matter if we are looking for that long lost sunken ship, rare critter to photograph, dinner, or simply to seek out what lies beyond the next rock, we are constantly exploring our underwater world. No aspect of exploration is more profound than cavern and cave diving. Like the sirens of Greek legends, these lairs tempt us to explore their inner recesses. While California is not known for its abundance of large caves and caverns, there […]

Natural Wonders at White Point

CDN 516 White Point

The Palos Verdes Peninsula at the Southern end of Los Angeles County can have some fantastic diving that often rivals that of the Channel Islands. Waters are generally clear, with abundant kelp and marine life, and there are even a few wrecks and an underwater arch or two. Charter boats leave from San Pedro and Redondo Beach but only the six-pack boat Island Diver visits these sites regularly. Shore diving options are limited, requiring hikes down steep trails. However, there is one location that allows […]

The Island that Isn’t: Monterey’s Shale Island

CDN 516 Shale Island

Each weekend hundreds of student divers fill the parking lots adjacent the Monterey Breakwater. While the diving at the Breakwater is quite good, particularly if you swim out past the classes, few know that better diving is found about a half mile offshore from the tip of the Breakwater. Here divers find a great expanse of rocky reef that old timers call Shale Beds or Tanker Reef. “Shale Beds” describes the composition of the rock found here, while “Tanker Reef” refers to the spot where […]

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 […]

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