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California Diving

Diving the Channel Islands


Diving the Channel Islands and areas around California can be a unique and memorable experience. From cruising through the beautiful kelp forests to diving a shipwreck or a plane wreck with an interesting history. Maybe catching your limit of lobster, spearing that big halibut or diving one of the oil rigs. Either way it’s all fun!

a perfect giant stride California scuba diving is more diverse and colorful then most would think. With its marine life, rocky reefs, pinnacles, walls, sandy plains, wrecks and the Channel Islands there is much to see. For the diver there are many opportunities. Truly there is something for everyone anytime of the year. There is good beach diving along much of the coast and some great boat dives leaving from a number of harbors, mainly going to the Channel Islands and sometimes to outstanding local offshore dive sites.

rigThe Channel Islands are like a diver’s playground. Altogether, the Channel Islands span a distance of 160 miles from Point Conception to San Diego, and lie between 11 and 60 miles offshore.

They comprise two distinct groups: four Northern islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa) and four Southern islands (Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina, San Nicholas and San Clemente). All four of the Northern islands and Santa Barbara Island from the Southern group belong to the Channel Islands National Park, while San Clemente and San Nicholas are owned by the military. Santa Catalina is mostly owned by the Catalina Island Conservancy with the remainder falling under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County.

When to dive the Channel Islands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe weather conditions in Southern California and the Channel Islands are usually mild but can change quickly anytime. The best diving conditions generally are during the fall and winter. Divers are lucky to have the islands close because on most days there is somewhere to get a good day of diving in. Water temperature and visibility also varies throughout the year. The warmer water and greater visibility usually are in the Southern islands such as Catalina and San Clemente Islands. Because of the deep water up-welling’s at Point Conception, the Northern islands like San Miguel have the coldest water temperatures.

bg-body-02During the fall between September and Novemeber is typically when the east winds (Santa Ana’s) blow.  This brings warm dry air offshore from the desert to the ocean. Because of this it pushes the top layer of water out away from shore, allowing the ocean up-welling’s to bring the cleaner colder water in. This makes for great diving conditions. On a good day the diving conditions can rival any warm water location. Of course without the warm water. Water temperatures vary between the islands with fall generally having the warmest water and best visibility.

santa cruz islandWinter time is December through March. December and January usually having some spectacular diving days before the storms come through. February and March are the stormy rainy months. When the storms come they bring large swells and surf that stir up the water and cause the visibility to drop dramatically both at the islands and beaches.

anacapaApril and May are springtime. This brings a renewed freshness that shows with all the plants and flowers blooming around the Channel Island’s. The islands are beautiful at this time of year, although the diving conditions are less than stellar. The visibility is reduced and the water temperatures are usually at their lowest.

John's Underwater Pictures 025Summer is when most divers like to go diving. In contrary, summer is when the conditions are not at their prime for diving. During June through August the water temperature starts to warm up. At the same time it lets the plankton bloom which creates days with some not so good visibility. The main thing about the summer is after a day of diving, you have the hot sun to look forward to warm you up.

Where does Channel Islands Dive Adventures fit into all this

There are many more places to dive then just around the islands.  There are wrecks at some of the islands and offshore from the coast. There are Oil Rigs in the channel between Long Beach and Catalina. There are awesome offshore reefs along the coast and so much more for the person looking for something different. This is where Channel Islands Dive Adventures fits in. We focus on single and multi-day trips to unique spots around the Channel Islands and coastal areas.

We love wrecks, deep reefs and other places most others will not do trips to. This is our specialty and for more information on all of them please check out the links below.