Dive Spots

The Winfield Scott and Wizard Hat

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
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
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

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

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

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 […]

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

There are sites that are so fantastic that you would like to dive them every week. However, many of the “best” sites are often exposed to the prevailing wind and swell and can only be enjoyed on that rare, exceptionally calm day. For the past three years I have scouted the coast between Fort Bragg and Mendocino looking for seldom dived sites with superior prospects for game hunting. One area I frequently examined was the shoreline along the northern portion of Jug Handle State Natural […]

Monterey Bay’s Aumentos Reef

While beach diving is certainly a lot of fun, the dive sites with better visibility and more marine life must be dived from a boat since they are located so far from the beach. The area east of Point Pinos has a large number of “named sites” that are truly great dives. One of the more popular is Aumentos Reef; and for good reason since this reef supports one of the densest populations of marine life in the Monterey Bay.   The name of this […]

Santa Rosa Island’s Talcott Shoal

Talcott Shoal is arguably one of the best lobster hunting spots in all the Channel Islands.   But wait, you say, isn’t lobster season over? Not quite, especially for Talcott Shoal. Not only is this location great early in the season but for veteran hunters one of the best locations for a late season bug grab, especially for those big ones.   “Lobster Fever,” as it is sometimes called generally reaches its peak early in the season during October, at the season opener. Divers fan […]

Carmel Bay’s Fire Rock: A Perfect Wintertime Dive

‘When El Niño-driven winter storms hit the California Coast it is best to view the ocean from a long, safe distance. However, the times between storms produce the finest diving of the year. Regardless of El Niño conditions the water temperature in winter is considerably warmer than that found during spring and early summer; and calm, winter days produce the best visibility of the year, often over 80 feet. One of my favorite winter dives is the Carmel Bay site called Fire Rock.   Fire […]

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