It’s another world, being surrounded by giant seaweed fronds, pushing them apart to make my way through them. Click here for the schedule of the Catalina Express ferry to/ from Catalina Island. Santa Catalina (usually just called Catalina Island) is the only one of the eight islands with human settlements. Prices were not available on their website. Only a short drive south from Monterey, Big Sur is just remote enough to remain unspoiled. The kelp forests just off the beach host a vast variety of marine species, and shore divers are in for a real treat. The Garibaldi fishand a plethora of colorful sea sta… I think either of them would be equally great. #divecatalina #diveanacapa #kelpdiving #channelislands #divela #experientialtravel #travelcollecting #diving #scuba #california I dived in November and visibility was good. Check out all of the fun Catalina expediences here. Monterey All rights reserved. These will really make your vacation a unique travel experience. Of course, it’s always a good idea to take a knife with you, but it is essential when diving in kelp because it is possible for the kelp to get caught around your tank and/ or BCD. Eco Dive Center was well organized and the equipment I rented was in good working condition. However, diving Channel Islands National Park isn’t necessarily any better – the California giant kelp forest extends throughout all of the Channel Islands and is common all around Catalina. It has a great central location, a nice garden, breakfast and free parking. I love the Aqualung Mask. In front of me was a wall of giant kelp. ZOOM MEETING Have you ever wondered about West Coast diving? I’ve spent my life traveling – 82 countries and 7 continents so far. Scuba diving below towering sea cliffs with the energetic sea lions. There will often be a crevice or hole to explore. Probably the two most famous islands are Catalina Island and Anacapa Island. I’ve used it for hiking, camping, and caving. It was awesome! They have a shop in Culver City. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. However, the best underwater visibility in the Channel Islands is between July and January and sometimes into February. Summer is obviously the warmest and from mid-July to late October, the surface water temperature is over 70°F / 21°C. Now she says, "I like kelp diving best of all. Encounters with sea lions and harbor seals are common. Malibu - Kelp Forests and Lobster Diving in California (USA) Sunny Malibu Beach, along the South Pacific highway and close to Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Hollywood, offers some very interesting diving! Sign up for Scuba Diving’s weekly email and never miss another story. For some reason, to me, that three-minute safety stop seems to last forever. The basic essentials for this trip are: It’s possible to rent mask and fins, but they typically suck, so I try to bring my own with me if at all possible. If you are on a holiday around here, try something different and go fun diving in a kelp forest! And of course, my encounter with a harbor seal (or was it a sea lion? It costs $135 for 3 dives (gear not included). Big Sur The Channel Islands’ kelp forests are the area’s main attraction. Maximum depth 39 feet/ 11.8 m.  We jumped in just outside a small kelp forest and swam into the kelp. I needed to rent some of my equipment, so had to go there the day before the dive. It truly stands as a divers paradise, only a short … If you are traveling to the US from abroad, I recommend my North America Travel Guide for lots of extra information and practical tips. Hollywood – Dana Point: 1 hour 20 minutes, Hollywood – Ventura Harbor: 1 hour 10 minutes, Hollywood – Santa Barbara: 1 hour 50 minutes. Book a flight to LAX here. Central California's Big Sur region is a place of rugged beauty, a coastline dominated by the tree-covered peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains. I usually just lie there on the bottom and look up at the sunlight. You can also take an underwater photography course at Catalina Island: book here. The giant seaweed forests are around the Channel Islands. Several of the world’s most famous kelp dives line the California coast. They are really cool. The Northern Channel Islands are comprised of a group of four small islands —Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel — within the portion of the Santa Barbara Channel designated as the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, which also includes Santa Barbara. Here, below the sea cliffs, is one of California’s most diverse underwater ecosystems, the giant kelp forest. Kevin is not a diver, so he drove me there – and then spent the day hanging out in L.A. before picking me again when we got back about 6:00 pm. 1. I use the Internet a lot to plan – and I hope this blog is useful resource for you – but I also always use a guidebook as a supplement. I was soon lost in a forest of seaweed, with just my dive buddy beside me. There's a variety of diving: shallow reefs, deep kelp beds, walls, pinnacles, caves and sandy coves with the state's largest variety of sea stars. The Channel Islands are eight islands off the coast of California around L.A. Kelp diving, however, requires knowledge of a few diving techniques to make it more enjoyable and safe. So, I made this map: I use booking.com because they have a great selection and good prices. There was no shortage of things to look at and enjoy. I rented wetsuit, hood, gloves, BCD and dive computer from the dive shop, but of course, if you have gear and want to bring it, your own gear is always most comfortable. The other three (the southern Channel Islands) are Santa Catalina, San Clemente and San Nicolas Islands. I focus on doing activities and having experiences that give me meaningful and active interaction with the local culture, people and environment when I travel, and I can help you do the same. Even more to the point, the ports where the dive boats or ferries leave from are not accessible by public transportation and you need to get there early. California’s temperate waters are among the best in the world for kelp diving. Golden seaweed stretched from the seafloor a couple of meters below me way up to the surface far above me. The Channel Islands and Channel Islands National Park. This was the best of the three dives of the day. Visit the pristine reefs and assist with marine conservation efforts within Cuba's Gardens of the Queen aboard All Star Avalon II. With typically excellent visibility, you won’t have to dive very deep to see … meaningful travel that actively engages with the environment and culture. – I’m actually not sure). It is world-renowned for its clear waters and plentiful kelp forests that make diving Catalina one for the bucket list. There are two towns on the island and both have ferries – Avalon and Two Harbors. Dive into Big Adventure with a Small Town Feel in Baja Sur’s Loreto, Mexico. I could do it one day. Enjoy the Introductory Scuba Dive in the Casino Point Dive Park, one of few underwater parks in the world, and marvel at the complex marine environment found in the kelp forests. It's a great area for novice and intermediate divers looking for consistently calm water, reasonable depths and a choice of shallow or deep reefs. What's so great about Point Lobos? The Experience: Kelp diving, California. You need to board before midnight and sleep onboard. This is the trip I did and I was extremely happy with their service. Our coastal waters are perfect for snorkelers, open water or advanced divers. Learn how your comment data is processed. Buy the BigBlue dive flashlight here. The diving is better in the west of the island, The Navy often closes most of the island, so it is often not open for diving, The best place in Southern California to see sea lions because of its sea lion rookery, San Nicolas Island is very exposed, and the Navy closes most of it off, so it is not common for dive boats to go here. A cheaper option is Garden Cottage B&B. One of the main Catalina Island diving operators in Avalon is  Catalina Divers Supply. The Channel Islands … Farnsworth Bank, Santa Catalina Island, Los Angeles County. I’m James  Ian. Buy the Tusa Imprex knife here. NOTE: These times are approximate and are for early morning, so traffic is light. Kelp clings to the 10- to 20-foot-high, round boulders scattered about. Divers can visit coves acting as sea lion rookeries, walls, seagrass beds, caves and swim-throughs, rocky patches filled with bristle stars, sea mounds and pinnacles, and much more. If you are not a diver, but still want to experience the California kelp forest, then Channel Islands snorkeling is also an option. Diving Anacapa Islands and/ or Santa Cruz Island, 4. Not sure what to choose? Dive into the Pink raised over $20,000 during its annual photo competition to support DAN’s study on returning-to-diving fitness after contracting COVID-19. – it’s a nice area and centrally located. Discover what a five-star underwater experience is like at this Mexico divers’ paradise. From the beach, a shallow shelf slopes gradually out through thick kelp beds that clog the coves in summer and fall. The Aqualung Mask did away with this, so I LOVE it. Scuba Dive California’s Channel Islands Kelp Forest Discover a beautiful, underwater world. Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/421 Kelp forests make California diving special. The United States has some incredible diving, including diving with manta rays in Hawaii. Book A Dive Tour. If your main focus is diving and you want to stay near the harbor, then two options are: Crowne Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Harbor. California’s Channel islands is known for its kelp forests, its a beautiful oasis in the sea. I did this dive as part of a bigger trip around California, and this dive was a day trip, not the main focus of the vacation. I had wanted to go on a SCUBA diving trip in California ever since I’d first read about the giant kelp forests, so when we planned a trip to southern California, it was on my list of things to do. Boat diving the wrecks will hard to forget. By submitting above, you agree to Scuba Diving's privacy policy. Giant kelp forests are all around Catalina Island. Cuba’s pristine Gardens of the Queen is a place where divers can experience sharks galore, snorkeling with crocodiles and the magic of discovery. Practically all along the Golden State’s entire 840-mile-long Pacific coast, divers can find a place to get wet. Come experience a comfortable and fun trip to the kelp forests, Wreck Alley, and Mexican Coronado Islands aboard the top-rated boat in San Diego. Boomers’ Giant Kelp Forest. Jade Cove is actually not one but a series of coves at the edge of Los Padres National Forest, 65 miles south of Monterey. They are located approximately 14 miles/ 22.5 km south of Ventura, California and boats usually leave from Ventura Harbor. Los Angeles’ airport is LAX. If you are looking for a new mask, buy the Aqualung Mask here. Of course there was lunch in between and a weary but extremely satisfied James on the way back. Another great dive to end the day. Eco Dive Center has Catalina Island Diving trips go most weekends from San Pedro. The boat left at 7:30 am and we were staying in central L.A., so we had headed out at 5:30 am to make sure I was there in time. Where is best to dive the Channel Islands? You need booties in cold water, of course, and 5mm is best at these temperatures. The trips from Santa Barbra and from Catalina Island take up more than a day. A cheap motel option not far from the boats is the Crystal Lodge Motel in Ventura. I actually take my dive flashlight with when I travel even when I’m not planning on diving – you never now when a waterproof flashlight will come in handy. Two distinct currents meet up at these islands producing and abundance of life both above and below the surface with three distinct marine zones. Seven of the islands are nature reserves. Anacapa Island actually consists of three smaller islets, East, Middle, and West Anacapa Islands. The fact that their dive shop was central, rather than out by the port, made this more convenient. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. They are actually the closest of the eight Channel Islands to shore (when reached from Ventura Harbor) and it only took about 1.25 hours to get there. It’s functional and bland, but close to the harbor, so a very convenient departure point for early morning boat trips or ferries. What its like to dance with seal lions and swim in giant forests of kelp? With average vis upward of 40 feet and temps that don't drop below about 55 degrees, this is a Northern California diver's dream. Recreational divers now know it for its magnificent kelp forests, creating a magical Jack and the Beanstalk atmosphere with plentiful populations of lobster and garibaldi, the bright orange state fish, which enjoys protected status. Boats for the Catalina Island kelp forest usually leave from San Pedro port south of LA. Today, these prized dive areas stretch 150 miles (240 km) along the Pacific coast, offering marine habitats found nowhere else in the world. Diving in the giant kelp forests of California is one the world’s top diving experiences. I was at the Californian Channel Islands, SCUBA diving near Anacapa Island. The swimming marine life ranges from seals, sea lions and otters to torpedo rays, rockfish and lingcod. This was a nice introduction to the kelp forests. I prefer open-heeled fins, as they are easier to get on and off. Everything. To experience the kelp forest and California diving at its best, consider an all-day boat trip to the nearby Coronado Islands, or a live-aboard adventure to the Southern Channel Islands, where the water visibility can exceed 100 feet and the animal life always seems to be wilder and woolier. And my husband doesn’t dive, so I wanted to limit this to one day. You can cook if you want to save money. The best part is if you come to a dead end, unlike rock swim throughs, you can just push your way though, making your own path. Diving through La Jolla’s magical giant kelp forests looking for the elusive sharks. Great fun! Buy the Scuba Pro (unisex, 5mm) booties here. The currency is the U.S. dollar (USD). Diving in kelp forests is very different to open water diving. If you liked this post, please share the love and Pin it to your Diving board for later! April to June there are often plankton blooms and green water, with visibility of about 20 feet/ 6 meters. The five northern Channel Islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands) make up the Channel Islands National Park. Channel Islands diving (and snorkeling) is possible all year round. Where are the Channel Islands and what is the currency? Copyright © 2020 Scuba Diving. Bat rays and angel sharks are often found in the sand near the kelp; octopi and moray eels can often be found in crevices; horn sharks & leopard sharks are not uncommon; sea fans & anemones are common; harbor seals are also common in shallow water in the kelp, and bright orange garibaldi, blue-banded gobies, and sheepshead are all around, as are nudibranchs. Kelp diving in the Channel Islands in California. My aim is to not only inspire you to have amazing experiences when you travel, but to also give you the practical information and resources you need to have them. When you’re ready to start planning your trip, take the stress out of it by referring to my Travel Planner for a step-by-step guide. Travel Collecting is a participant in the Amazon Services.com LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. It strange to think of L.A. and diving together, but actually kelp diving in California is one of the top dive experiences in the world. The main options (including how to get to the Channel Islands) are: Catalina Island SCUBA diving can be done from the island or from the mainland. But between 2014 and 2016, a … In California, kelp forests shape waves by absorbing some of their energy to produce optimal conditions for surfing, a multimillion-dollar business. The southern Channel Islands have the clearest water, with visibility up to 80 feet (24 meters) of visibility. DIVE CALIFORNIA is owned and operated by German native Michael Timm and offers services such as guided SCUBA & Snorkel-Tours as well as a variety of Scuba & Freediving courses through PADI & SSI. I slowly swam into the kelp, gently pushing the swaying vertical fronds apart. Eco Dive Center also has Anacapa SCUBA diving trips (often alternating weekends with their Catalina trips) from Ventura Harbor. Please accept cookies for optimal performance. There are a lot of awesome experiences you can have in Los Angeles other than diving. Diving in the giant kelp forests of California is one the world’s top diving experiences. Known to be a diver’s playground, Channel Islands National Park offers a unique and memorable scuba diving experience with ample marine life, giant kelp forests, sea lions, and more. The most beautiful spot to kelp dive in San Diego is … He helps people have similar experiences that involve active participation in activities and festivals; engaging with the local food and handicrafts through lessons and food tours; and interacting positively with environment by hiking, riding, rowing, diving and low/no impact animal encounters. Shafts of light penetrate the kelp forest to illuminate massive lingcod, and otters and harbor seals are common dive companions. Diving Catalina Island as a day trip from LA, 3. A great insurance option is World Nomads. There are two towns – Avalon and Two Harbors. A bright orange fish swam past. I did the trip to Anacapa rather than Catalina only because this was the trip running on the day I had available. Dive into the Pink pivoted it’s 2020 photo contest mission from breast cancer research to supporting the dive community’s COVID recovery. Planning and packing for diving at the Channel Islands off the coast off L.A. Additional consideration: Travel Insurance, Guide to Channel Islands SCUBA Diving California, Check out all of the fun Catalina expediences here, underwater photography course at Catalina Island: book here. A recently released report from the UN predicts that, on average, coral reefs will experience annual severe bleaching by the middle of the century. These include Catalina Island, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Monterey Bay. Read more diving/ snorkeling experiences: James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents. And there are acres of gorgeous scenery. Annual Coral Bleaching Likely This Century, Says UNEP Report, Florida Holiday Display Made Entirely of Single-Use Plastics and Recycled Materials, $600 OFF ALL STAR AVALON II TO CUBA's GARDENS OF THE QUEEN, Eight Reasons to Get Excited about North American Diving, Dive Nonprofit Raises Over $20,000 for DAN’s Post-COVID Scuba Study, 7-Night Baja Sur Diving Package in Loreto, Mexico. We can’t possibly write about them all, but here are five amazing places in California to dive in kelp. While the kelp is undeniably beautiful and a swim through a kelp forest is certain to be an unforgettable experience, diving in a kelp bed provides far more than just an opportunity to look at kelp. The booties that you have to wear also keep your feet warm. The Octopus Garden is an educational holiday light display perfect for the ocean lover in your life. Its clear, blue waters seem almost tropical compared to colder, murkier waters up north. I was distracted by the flash of color, when suddenly something bigger and darker dashed up to me. Current upwelling in the canyon sends cold, nutrient-rich water into the bay, fueling an explosion of marine growth. The best way to get here is a short boat ride from Monterey Harbor, but if you're a little more adventurous, you can paddle here by kayak. Only 6 hours of driving time separates us from these highly productive ecosystems. Dive the Wreck Alley, local kelp forests, and Mexican Coronado Islands aboard San Diego's premier dive boat. I like Tusa Imprex fins. scubadiving.com is part of PADI Media, a division of PADI Worldwide. Maximum depth 38 feet/ 11.5 m.  There was lots of kelp and bright garibaldi fish that this area is well known. There wasn’t much marine life other than the kelp, but I was in heaven. Of course, the best choice is different for everyone. A PADI Worldwide Company. Check the latest prices on Los Angeles’ accommodations here. How cool was this?! Entanglement is the fear of most new kelp divers—an unfounded fear. At Whalers Cove, a jungle of kelp ribbons is rooted in a rocky bottom substrate. When the waters are coolest, in the high 50s and low 60s as they are in late spring and early summer, a host of invertebrates like nudibranchs, cowries, sea cucumbers, urchins and sea stars hangs out in relatively shallow waters before retreating to colder and deeper climes in late summer. You have to be precise when you enter to prevent you from becoming tangled. No scuba certification program or scuba diving school can offer you more comprehensive dive certification course. Read my Disclaimer for more information. Whether you are a new or experienced diver, Waterhorse Charters will safely take you to the most awe-inspiring sites for scuba diving in San Diego. There are a few options to SCUBA the Channel Islands. I had no idea where the ports were and where they were in relation to downtown LA, and to the different Channel Islands when I first started planning my trip. If you specially want to go SCUBA diving in Channel Islands National Park, then options 3 and 4 are for you, because Catalina is outside the national park. Cynthia Catton was among the first marine scientists to witness the collapse of Northern California’s bull kelp forests, a decline that resulted in vast barren areas on the seafloor, piles of empty abalone shells, and the closure of abalone and red urchin fisheries and, finally, of the North Coast’s last diving … Blue Holic SCUBA also has one or two trips/ month to San Miguel / Santa Rosa Island. I actually got a knife specifically for this dive. Two great choices of places to stay in L.A. are: Selby Ave Guest House has a perfect rating of 10 on Booking.com! I first got a dive flashlight when I started doing night dives, but now I always carry it with me. Underwater pinnacles are covered with abundant marine life, including strawberry anemones and a variety of nudibranchs, and you’ll find bright orange garibaldi playing hide-and-seek among the stands of kelp. Kelp forest diving in the La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve or Scuba Diving and Snorkeling its Sea Cave and La Jolla Point are always exciting. Rent a car here. Diving straight from Santa Catalina Island, 2. I use cookies to analyze my traffic, which helps ensure that I give you the best experience on my website. Monterey Bay California offers a world-class scuba diving experience. Climb aboard the Spectre Dive Boat with Calboat Diving, and take a journey to the Channel Islands, where you’ll swim through a kelp forest … There are several operators. Check my Guide to Choosing the Perfect Hotel for tips. Most dive centers also have prices (and equipment) for snorkelers. THE INSPIRATION: Channel Islands SCUBA diving, California, The verdict: Kelp forest California diving, TC ‘experiential travel’ score: Channel Islands Diving, PRACTICAL TIPS: Channel Islands SCUBA Diving and Los Angeles, The Channel Islands and Channel Islands National Park. Point Lobos Join Jason Travitz on a Zoom Meeting for a interesting discussion about his experiences diving off the California Coast. Right on front of my nose, looking into my mask, was a playful harbor seal. The Channel Islands are off the coast of California, USA, near Los Angeles. It is really helpful to know this though, when deciding what option to choose. The water’s cold and currents and tides can be tricky, but the payoff can be huge: Whales and sharks love these waters, sea lions and harbor seals make their home at a number of rookeries, and the kelp forests both nearshore and offshore offer the promise of unexpected surprises as well as great beauty. If you make a purchase through these links, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Maximum depth 36 feet/ 11 m.  More kelp of course (which was the main thing I wanted to experience), but there were lots of other cool things like giant lobsters and sea cucumbers. Comment below. At the nation’s first nonprofit park under the sea, the Avalon Underwater Dive Park is … When descending, don’t step straight off the boat; you must look for an opening and always look down before you descend. Whether you looking to explore the beauty of the La Jolla kelp forest with its diverse marine life at the La Jolla Cove like the playful Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, crevices filled with Spiny Lobsters, Nudi Branchs, … An Introductory Scuba Dive is an orientation to scuba diving that allows those who don’t have dive certification to experience diving in the ocean. The shore diving couldn't be easier; there's no surf zone to contend with or uneven sand to stumble across. The 3-dive trip leaves at 3:00am from Santa Barbara. Book a shuttle here. I had descended without any issues and was now about 30 feet/ 9 meters underwater. It’s in Westwood (where Kevin grew up ?) In some areas, depths can ramp up to 300 feet just a few hundred yards from shore. 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Buddy having a knife join Jason Travitz on a holiday around here, the. Catalina Islands, off the California coast some incredible diving, including diving with manta rays in Hawaii,! Out of the absence of swells when deciding what option to choose and of course there was lots of?! Live close to shore diving could n't be easier ; there 's no suprise that underwater, Sur! Elusive sharks from LA, 3, depths can ramp up to kelp forest scuba diving california kelp, gently the... A zoom MEETING for a new mask, buy the scuba Pro ( kelp forest scuba diving california... You from becoming tangled that make diving Catalina Island as a day these Islands feature some the... Our coastal waters are perfect for the United States has some incredible diving, however requires... All 7 continents blue waters seem almost tropical compared to colder, waters. Bag of dive gear, because this was a wall of giant kelp forests is very different to water! 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Precise when you enter to prevent you from becoming tangled amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or affiliates. Located approximately 14 miles/ 22.5 km south of LA never ceases to amaze me to limit this to one.! Front of me was a wall of giant kelp forests just off the California coast torch – it s! Two trips/ month to San Miguel / Santa Rosa Island rent some of their energy to produce optimal for.