Blue Cavern East

Blue Cavern Point is a spectacular dive for two reasons. First, its geography is largely vertical, both above and below the water, and it puts it in a prime location to capture nutrient rich and life filled currents. Second, the point is a preserve that is the most carefully protected on the island. And it has been that way for some time. The USC Wrigley Marine Science Center carefully monitors the preserve, protecting its many scientific studies there, and shoos away anyone not willing to comply with their stringent restrictions. Yes, you can dive here but nothing may be taken or disturbed. But the most difficult restriction is no anchoring. Boats must either anchor far out in deep water requiring divers a long swim over current swept waters, or “live boat” techniques must be used, which are generally the realm only of advanced divers. But there is a third alternative to diving this wonderful area—park just outside the boundary and swim in. While not all the preserve is accessible this way, a good chunk of some very interesting underwater terrain can be explored.

The eastern boundary of the preserve is not so profoundly indicated by a fence post atop the bluff. The bottom to the west of this marker is boulders, rocks, and sand on a steep slope. It can be difficult to anchor in the deep water but you will be out of the preserve. Just under the fence is a lush, thick kelp patch, packed full of life. But my favorite part is to the west into the preserve.

Swimming west toward the point the bottom become more and more vertical. Just west of the fence marker is a shelf 15 feet down under the surface cliffs above. Below the shelf, you will find a vertical wall and then a massive overhang of rock. This is some incredible geography! Farther to the west the wall becomes totally vertical. Near the point the cliff is sheer from 40 feet above the surface of the water to 65 feet below.

Diving out near the point can sometimes be difficult. Currents can be strong and there is no place to hide out. If you are heading west, however, you are usually heading upstream.

Along the wall are stands of gorgonian here and there. Rockfish inhabit the base of the cliff. Fissures in the rock face hold small lobster, treefish, and blue-banded gobies. Under the large overhang I encountered a three-foot long horn shark.

The bottom terrain to the east is a bit more subdued but also interesting. Jumbled boulders, some the size of cars, have broken away from the cliff above to form a reef full of holes and mini-caves. While there are lobster here, and this area is outside the preserve, most are small. I found this site excellent for photography of bottom fish and other odd bottom animals. In particular, I found a large smooth shelled burgundy colored crab I am still trying to identify. Moray eels can also be found in the holes.

Diving Blue Cavern need not be as difficult as you think. Like a hiker, just park it outside the park and hoof it in!

Dive Spot At A Glance
Location
: Just to the east of the fence post on the east side of Blue Cavern Point.
Access: Boat only. Do not anchor inside preserve!
Skill Level: All levels under fence post and to east, advance to west and deeper.
Depths: 0 to 80 feet.
Visibility: Very good, averaging 50 feet, with 70 feet or better not unusual.
Photography: Very good wide angle along wall and in kelp. Macro fair for fish and other animals to east.
Hunting: Nothing can be taken from preserve to the west. To the east are only a few lobster, most short.
Hazards: Currents strong near point, boat traffic, depths.
Restrictions: Absolutely anchoring to the west.

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