Scuba diving in 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 to catching your limit of lobster, spearing that big halibut, drift diving or diving one of the oil rigs either way it’s all fun.
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 plenty of great diving for beginners to advance to technical divers, truly 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 along the coast, mainly going to the Channel Islands and sometimes to outstanding local offshore dive sites.
The 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.
The weather conditions in Southern California and the Channel Islands are usually mild and can change rather quickly anytime, anywhere year round with the best diving conditions generally during the fall and winter. Divers are lucky to have the islands close, because on most any day there is somewhere to get a good day of diving in. Water temperature and visibility also varies throughout the year with the warmer water and greater visibility being in the Southern islands such as Catalina and San Clemente Islands and because of the deep water upwelling’s at Point Conception, the Northern islands like San Miguel always have the coldest water temperatures
During the fall (Sept.-Nov.) is typically when the east winds (Santa Ana’s) blow the warm dry air offshore from the desert to the ocean pushing the top layer of water out away from shore, allowing the ocean upwelling’s to bring the cleaner colder water in 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 along with nice warm days.
Winter time is December through March with December and January usually having some spectacular diving days before the storms come through. February and March are the stormy rainy months and with the storms come the large swells and surf that help to stir up the water and cause the visibility to drop dramatically along the beach and islands, not to mention the water runoff from the rains.
April and May are springtime which 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.
Summer is when most divers like to go diving, but 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 and 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.
So where does the Channel Islands Dive Adventures fit into all this great California scuba diving? We focus mainly on day trips to unique spots around the Channel Islands and Ventura County coastal offshore dive sites. We also have trips as far North as Monterey and as far South as San Diego. Check our calendar for our planned trips and events.
For more information on the Islands, Wrecks, Rigs and Coastal dive spots please choose a link below: