Dive Spots

Window Pane Pinnacle

It’s like an underwater mountaintop, a rock spire reaching from the depths to within 25 feet of the surface. The top is barely the size of a two-car garage. The ocean side is a vertical rock face, plunging to over 130 feet and then steeply thereafter. Fish swirl about the monolith seemingly unaware of the magnitude of their underwater home. The Window Pane Pinnacle at San Clemente Island is one of the most spectacular dives in all the Channel Islands. The front side of San […]

Monterey’s Metridium Mountain

Although I dive the Monterey area quite a bit, I am constantly amazed how Monterey’s captains can find new and often better sites so close to our old favorites. This spring the Beachhopper II took me to such a site. Metridium Mountain is located off of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. The anchorage is a short distance from the well-known site called Hopkins Deep Reef. At Hopkins Deep the rocks barely rise up off the bottom, while the rock structure is much more dramatic at […]

Santa Barbara’s Biltmore Steps

The Biltmore Hotel has been a graceful landmark on the Santa Barbara coastline since 1927. Being one of the most premier hotels in all of Southern California, its elegance is not just owed to wonderful architecture and supreme customer service but also its incredible location. Looking out from the hotel you’ll enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara Channel and the silhouettes of the beautiful Northern Channel Islands. The views are spectacular across the thin sand beach where honeymooners often stroll at sunset.  The […]

It’s Worth the Hike to Reach Carmel Meadows

Would it not be wonderful if all dive sites had plentiful parking with an easy walk to a very calm entry? A lot of sites are this easy to dive, but some of the better sites require a bit more effort, and often this extra effort is rewarded with a superior experience. Carmel Meadows is such a dive site. This site takes its name from its proximity to the Carmel Meadows community in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The entry is actually on the south end of the Carmel […]

Rediscovering The Monterey Breakwater

I’ll wager most Central California divers did at least two of their certification dives at the Breakwater. This dive site is the most protected in the Monterey Bay Area and is an ideal spot for open-water certification dives. As diver’s skills improve, most divers migrate away from the Breakwater to find more challenging sites and to avoid the crowds. However, as more and more divers take up underwater photography, the Breakwater is now known for its incredible collection of photogenic marine life. Even within an […]

Isthmus Reef Offers Fun for All

Cruising along the base of the west wall of Isthmus Reef I stumbled across a most remarkable find — a four-foot long horn shark! While horn sharks are by no means uncommon, especially at this reef, seeing one this large was highly unusual. The horn shark gets its name from the spiny “horn” protruding from the top of its dorsal. When the shark is small, the sharp point serves as a deterrent to predators. Later in life the spine serves to help the shark stay […]

Russian Gulch State Park

Most Californians believe that the United States acquired the land that would eventually become California as a result of a battle with Mexico. This is about half true, but at one point Russia claimed the northern part of the state, down to Bodega Bay. They erected a major stockade at Fort Ross in Sonoma County and used this a base to collect sea otter, elephant seal, and sea lion pelts. The Russians sold their holdings in 1841 after hunting down the marine mammal population in […]

Great White Sharks of Guadalupe Isl., Mexico’s Baja, Part 1

Divers have a tendency to dream big. Our dreams include diving in faraway, exotic locations, swimming with and photographing all sorts of magnificent creatures — especially some of the ocean’s largest critters. Dolphins, manta rays and whales are likely on a diver’s big animal “bucket list.” However, it is not surprising that the animal occupying the top spot on many divers’ lists is an apex predator. A shark. “The” shark. And by “the” shark, I mean the great white shark.  There are a handful of […]

Pyramid Cove

There’s a spot in the Channel Islands that offers a little bit of everything for divers. And by “everything” I mean consistently good underwater visibility — 60 to 80 feet and often over 100 feet — lush kelp forests, a reef with colorful fish life and fascinating marine creatures, arches and tunnels to explore, and at deeper depths, a wall. Oh, and bugs, too. At Pyramid Cove at the south end of San Clemente Island, you can see all this, and probably a couple dozen […]

Caves, Caverns, Coves and Cliffs at Cruz

The archipelago off the Southern California coastline known as the California Channel Islands is made of eight islands, each with its own distinct character. Our very own Santa Cruz Island holds many distinctions. At 96 square miles it is the largest of the Channel Islands. It is approximately 24 miles long and its highest peak, Diablo Peak, is 2,450 feet tall, the highest in all the Channel Islands. This is the only Channel Island with a valley with vernal pools and a seasonal marsh owed […]

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