Pacific Coast

California's Channel Islands: Kelp Diving on the US West Coast

A bright orange Garibaldi fish and crimson-colored California sheephead with red gorgonian at Santa Barbara Island. Photo by Frankie Grant

Due to their unique position relative to the eastern Pacific current, or the California Current, the Channel Islands off California’s coast receive an ideal amount of nutrients and water circulation for optimum growth of California giant kelp. This colonial algae forms forests over the rocky reefs and walls surrounding the islands, and act as one of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems.

La Jolla: Classic Southern California Diving

Playful California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are a highlight of diving La Jolla Cove. Photo Brent Durand.
Playful California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are a highlight of diving La Jolla Cove. Photo Brent Durand.

Cool sunlight slowly crept down from the horizon to the kelp beds off La Jolla in southern California. I took another sip of coffee. Sea lions barked on occasion as small groups of pelicans flew up the coast to start their day.

Northern California: A Dive Off the American Wild West Coast

Metridium anemone and corynactis grow on a rock while blue rockfish swim overhead, Northern California, USA. Photo by Brent Durand.

Warm rinse water sloshed in the jug as my car hugged a sharp turn on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. I looked left at the mighty Pacific Ocean, the cliffs tumbling to the sea dotted by rugged pinnacles, stretching farther up the coast than the jam band solo currently playing out of the car speakers. Deep blue, favorable conditions all week, minimal swell, no-wind forecast—only unpredictable visibility could affect the diving today.

San Diego: Gateway to Wreck Alley and Islas Coronados

Larry Cohen on the wreck of the Ruby E, San Diego, California, USA. Photo by Olga Torrey.

San Diego’s Wreck Alley is an area with intentionally sunken ships. One of the wrecks divers can find here is the HMCS Yukon, which was a Mackenzie-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and later the Canadian Forces. She was named after the Yukon River that runs from British Columbia through the Yukon and into Alaska.

Southern California's Market Squid Run

Most years, Southern California on the US west coast is the site of a special marine life aggregation, treating locals to one of the most unique dives in the world. Hundreds of thousands of market squid (<i>Doryteuthis opalescens</i>) swim into recreational dive depths to mate and lay an expansive canvas of egg baskets (collections of eggs) across the sandy substrate.

Channel Islands: The Realm of the Giant Kelp

For those of us fortunate enough to call Southern California home, the Channel Islands offer world-class diving in our own backyard. Comprised of eight islands stretching over 160 miles of Pacific Ocean, the Channel Islands boast over 2,000 terrestrial plants and animals, including 150 endemic species, rivaling the Galapagos for diversity.