A poor visibility dive need not necessarily be a bad dive. Goleta Beach is one example. Water clarity here is never above 10 feet and is often as little as 5. Even so, there is an exceptional amount of marine life to see, it is an easy beach entry, and beachside facilities are great.
The underwater attraction here is the sewer outfall pipeline that parallels the pier. If you are concerned about health issues, the treated effluent is dumped about a mile offshore in 95 feet of water. There has been controversy that this effluent is not treated properly. If this bothers you, do not dive here.
The pipeline cannot be seen from shore as it buried under the sand. Just a short distance from the beach, however, this pipeline makes itself known by a thin veil of kelp. The length of the pipeline heading out to sea is covered by armor rock for protection. Because the kelp is easily visible from the pier take a short hike out along the pier before you dive to scope out the site. The pipeline is just to the west of the pier, directly out from the restaurant. The rocks start from the swimming buoys a short distance from the shoreline. Diving under the pier is prohibited.
Depths at this dive are from 10 feet to about 25 feet and you have to swim a long way to get to 25 feet. The structure of pipeline and covering rock rises about 10 feet above the bottom and is about 10 feet wide. Underwater navigation is a cinch; just follow the pipeline out and back again. Due to the close proximity to the pier, fishing line is common so bring a sharp knife or snips.
The rocks hold an abundance of marine life including octopus, giant keyhole limpets, large pisaster stars, nudibranchs, and sheep crabs. Of note to the hunters is a good population of lobster. Fish life includes small schools of perch, lingcod and an occasional rockfish.
Water entry is amazingly simple and easy. Parking is free. Park on the west side of the restaurant and enter off and sand beach just steps away. Sheltered from the prevailing winds and waves from the northwest and protection from south swells by the Channel Islands, surf here is almost always small.
Facilities include clean restrooms, showers and picnic area. The restaurant is mildly upscale, but there is a small snack shop at the base of the pier. A four-ton boat launch can be found at the end of the pier for those wanting to launch small vessels for excursions to offshore reefs to the east and west. To reach the beach, head south on Fairview Ave. Follow Fairview as it turns into Fowler and then as it curves into Moffit and then to Sandspit Road and turn toward the beach at the sign.
Dive Spot At A Glance
Location: 5900 Sandspit Road, Goleta.
Access and Entry: A few steps from parking to usually easy sand beach surf entry.
Skill Level: All.
Depths: 10 to 25 feet, more if you swim far enough.
Visibility: Poor, 5 to 10 feet.
Photography: Poor because of dirty water but does hold some macro possibilities.
Hunting: Good for lobster, occasional lingcod but most are small.
Facilities: Excellent, free access to park with restrooms, showers, snack shack and more.
Hazards: Boat traffic, possibly contaminated water, fish line.