Dale and I just had our fourth edition of Southern California’s Best Beach Dives book published. As I sat down and edited the material, I found myself reminiscing about every dive, some multiple times on a particular site. All dived over the past 25 years, then again for the most recent book. Wow, what a wonderful time we’ve had up and down our beautiful coastline. Some divers cringe and wrinkle their noses at the thought of beach diving, yet I have had some of my most memorable dives from a beach. As I went through the chapters I smiled, laughed, shivered, and even cried when I remembered my late father and the lobster we shared on a New Year’s Day at Refugio State Beach.
My very first night dive was at Old Redondo Pier #3, where I found an old Bromo Selzer bottle from the turn of the century tucked next to a piling. Our then 12-year-old son encountered a Mola Mola on a dive off Laguna Beach. A Mola—on a beach dive!
I remember driving past Mussel Shoals off Santa Barbara and casually mentioning, “Gee, I wonder if there is anything to see under that pier?” The next thing I knew we were suiting up and going to see just what was under that pier. Sometimes I thought that I should keep my mouth shut on future drives. But then again, I should have had a clue when Dale loaded our dive gear in the back of the truck for just a drive up the coast. I never did get that lunch at Gladstone’s. We ended up in the water instead.
I remember the time off Malibu when I thought for sure that I was going to be eaten by sharks. It had to be sharks; the dorsal fins were so big! But the pod of dolphins were not sharks, and they swam right at and around us. Dolphins! I swam with dolphins and didn’t go to the Bahamas for the experience.
I do remember that I have never been knocked down in the surf. Yes, I did say never. I am not being cocky, and I am not the greatest diver. But, I did have a great teacher (Dale) who guided me through the surf, knowing when to go and when to move fast, and to always put my fins and mask on before entering the water.
Yes, beaches are sandy and beach dive sites can equal long swims, but if I ever by-passed a beach dive, half of my experience would be gone, and I would have missed out on so much.
I am just now only talking about the beaches. I hope you get a chance to experience some of the wonderful dives Dale and I shared. With proper training, the right conditions, and the proper guide, beach diving can rival any island diving. Enjoy!