Top Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in California

California has three beautiful diving regions. The North coast region is renowned for lush, moist forests of the world's tallest trees, coastal bluffs, secluded coves and wildlife areas. From the pristine beaches and coves of Carmel by the Sea and Monterey Bay, the coastline includes numerous dive locations North of San Francisco, all the way to Mendocino and Crescent City. Each site offers its unique underwater topography and associated marine life. The California mid region includes diving locations from South of Pt. Lobos State Park (Carmel by the Sea) to Laguna Beach. This long stretch of beautiful beaches can be categorized as open-water diving, with some protected coves and inlets. Capitalizing on optimal weather as well as observing tides and current conditions are crucial to an enjoyable dive experience. The California South listings include the greater San Diego area (Pt. Loma North to La Jolla) continuing up through Orange County to Laguna Beach. Each ShoreDiving location has unique conditions -- and beauty! As always, check with your local resources for exact local conditions for the ultimate safe and rewarding dive experience.
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Monastery Beach South

California North, USA West

advanced
(18)
The most picturesque dive site in the Carmel area, Monastery Beach offers spectacular diving in the rocky, kelp-packed coastline. Do not attempt this dive unless you are advanced, and are comfortable in heavy surf. Head South on Highway 1 out of Carmel. Park at the Southern end of the first roadside beach.
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Mackerricher State Park

California North, USA West

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(3)
Mackerricher State Park has an excellent cove for a relatively sheltered dive. The park area itself is open year-round with 140 campsites for tent and RV's. The board walk that winds through the area allows easy access to wildlife and tide pool viewing. Located 3 miles North of Fort Bragg, off Highway 1. For more information on California parks, call 1-800-444-7275 or go to their website <a target="_new" href="http://cal-parks.ca.gov">here</a>.
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McAbee Beach

California North, USA West

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(12)
McAbee Beach can be used by beginners and experts, alike. The easy entry leads to a large kelp bed just a minute off shore. Several old pipelines create an artificial reef, making this a complete site for marine viewers! In Monterey, heading West on Del Monte, bear right onto Lighthouse Ave, then bear right onto Foam St. Make a right onto Hoffman Ave. At the intersection of Cannery Row, you'll see the trail head.
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Stillwater Cove

California North, USA West

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(6)
Stillwater cove is recognized for its relatively undisturbed marine environment. Due to the sensitivity of this habitat, only 10 divers a day are allowed access. Sorry, there is no night diving. The Beach and Tennis Club provides the coastal access from sunrise to sunset, and there is a $10 gate fee to gain access into Pebble Beach. Located in the heart of Pebble Beach, the drive here is worth the effort, even if you are not going to dive! Drive South of Carmel on Highway 1 to Ocean Ave. Take Ocean Ave West and turn right on San Antonio Ave. Wind your way North until you find yourself on Carmel Way. You will soon intersect with the famous 17 Mile Drive. A gate guard will welcome you and relieve you of some money for the privilege of hobnobbing with the Rich and Famous. Travel North West for about 1 mile, and turn left on Palmero Way. Travel approximately 1/2 mile and then make a left on to Cypress Drive for about 1/8 of a mile which ends at Stillwater Cove.
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The Cave

California South, USA West

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(6)
This dive was recommended by a certified Gorilla. We've only included The Cave to show how difficult it can be to access. If you aren't comfortable climbing on sandy rocks, try a kayak dive instead! Located in the heart of La Jolla, this entry accesses some very nice coastline. 11 miles North of San Diego, take the Ardath Road exit to the West. In 1.4 miles bear left on Torrey Pines Road. In 0.85 mile, turn right on Prospect Place. In 0.2 miles, bear right down Coast Blvd, and turn right into the parking.
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Aliso Beach Park

California South, USA West

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(6)
Are you a new diver looking to get your fins wet in a forgiving environment? This is the place! Bring a couple of tanks, a picnic lunch, and sunscreen, and you'll be set for a very relaxing day. Located 1.8 miles North of South Laguna, and 2 miles South of Laguna Beach.
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Morro Rock South

California Mid, USA West

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(8)
If the conditions are not good at Morro Rock North, they'll be good here. This is a relatively easy site to dive, but is a little less interesting than what you'd find on the other side of the rock. You will find kelp beds to explore, and various creatures-of-the-sand. Follow the instructions for Morro Rock North, but continue driving on the road on the South side of the Rock.
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Breakwater Cove

California North, USA West

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(43)
Breakwater Cove is another popular dive site. Parking can be limited, so get there early. This is a wonderful place to get a glimpse of sea lions, octopus, and other marine creatures. The best diving is on the outer side of breakwater. Beware of kelp and boats! In Monterey, heading West on Del Monte, bear right onto Lighthouse Ave, then bear right onto Foam St. Make a right onto Cannery Row.
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Marine Room

California South, USA West

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(12)
A lesser known dive spot just to the South of La Jolla Shores is the Marine Room, named after the adjacent restaurant. This site provides better access to the Northern reef area. 11 miles North of San Diego, take the Ardath Road exit to the West. In 1.4 miles bear left on Torrey Pines Road. In 0.3 mile, turn right on St. Louise Ter. Turn right on Spindrift Drive, and look for the Marine Room on your left.
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Whalers Cove (Point Lobos)

California North, USA West

beginner
(14)
Located in Point Lobos State Reserve, Whalers Cove is the most coveted dive location is this area. The highly restricted access of the Park creates an environment teaming with marine life. You must make reservations well in advance to enter, and must register with the gate before diving in. A complete set of rules and regulations, diving locations, and a reservation form may be found <a target="_new" href="http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/scuba/divereserv.html">here</a>. Drive South on Highway 1 from Carmel, past Monastery beach. You will see the entrance on your right.
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Point Pinos (Sewer Plant Beach)

California North, USA West

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(2)
This site is as close to Gorilla diving as you get in Monterey. Rocky entry, ocean currents, kelp beds, surf and breakers are your obstacles. Do not dive unless you have ideal conditions. Double check your dive plan with a local dive shop or guide. Once you've navigated the gauntlet, you'll be rewarded with nudibranches, starfish, anemones, and a variety of fish life. In Monterey, heading West on Del Monte, bear right onto Lighthouse Ave, then bear right onto Foam St. Make a right onto David Ave, then a left onto Ocean View Blvd. Continue past Lover's Point Park, and about 1 mile beyond, past Asilomar Blvd, you'll see the water treatment plant on your left and the beach on your right.
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Malibu - Redondo

California Mid, USA West

Not ranked yet
(2)
From TJ Jones
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Hospital Point

California South, USA West

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(2)
If you enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of rocky channels, this is the place! Because of the rugged nature of this site, however, wait for very calm conditions before trying an entry. Otherwise, you may find out why they call it Hospital Point! 0.8 mile South of La Jolla Cove on Coast Blvd. (See driving directions for La Jolla Cove)
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LA - Wreck of the Valiant

California Mid, USA West

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(2)
www.cawreckdivers.org/Wrecks/Valiant.htm -- From Christian Schulz In Avalon on Santa Catalina Island
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LA - Casino Point

California Mid, USA West

Not ranked yet
(18)
from Christian Schulz In Avalon on Santa Catalina Island
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Shaws Cove

California South, USA West

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(37)
More rocky coastline and spectacular canyons await you at Shaw's cove. The diving is a breeze during good sea conditions. Make a left on Fairview Street about 3/4 mile North of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. The entrance is at the intersection with Cliff.
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Divers Cove

California South, USA West

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(7)
When Neptune is cooperating, this becomes one of the most popular dive sites in the area. Because the marine life is protected here, you'll find a wide variety of fish, friendlier than usual. Make a left on Myrtle Street about 1/2 mile North of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. Turn right on Cliff.
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Crystal Cove State Park

California Mid, USA West

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(7)
Crystal Cove is one of those areas that you could spend years exploring. This large stretch of beach has several entry points, and depending upon how far you want to hike, you can choose a different entry for every day of the year! Drive 4.5 miles South of the Newport Bridge. You'll see the miles of wild beachfront, and the entrance to the park.
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Children's Pool Beach

California South, USA West

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(7)
Children's Pool Beach, also known as Casa, has a very easy entry to some spectacular diving. The local Sea Lion population sometimes uses the beach for sunning during the Winter months, but during the Summer, you might just have the whole beach to yourself! 500 yards South of La Jolla Cove. (See driving directions for La Jolla Cove)
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Coral Street Beach

California North, USA West

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(13)
Coral Street can be a technical dive if the conditions aren't just right. The kelp growth in August and September can be daunting, and the currents can catch you by surprise. Plan this dive with a dive shop, and take a buddy with you who has been here before. Do take your camera, as the macro life is spectacular! In Monterey, heading West on Del Monte, bear right onto Lighthouse Ave, then bear right onto Foam St. Make a right onto David Ave, then a left onto Ocean View Blvd. Continue past Lover's Point Park, and about 1/2 mile beyond, you'll find the Ocean View and Coral Street intersection.
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Monastery Beach North

California North, USA West

advanced
(39)
This is an easy-access site toward the Southern end of Carmel River State Beach. Come here when the main beach, just to the South, is packed. Because this shoreline is wide open to the Pacific swells, you should consider yourself an advanced diver before negotiating the entry. Head South on Highway 1 out of Carmel. Just as you start to see the first roadside beach, you're there!
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Van Damme State Park

California North, USA West

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(12)
The dive site at Van Damme is directly across the street from the State Park entrance. The park has 74 campsites with all the amenities, and a riverside foot trail. Check out the park's visitor center while off-gassing. The entrance to Van Damme is 3 miles South of Mendocino on Highway 1. The road curves right around the beach. For more information on California parks, call 1-800-444-7275 or go to their website <a target="_new" href="http://cal-parks.ca.gov">here</a>.
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Veteran's Park, Redondo Beach

California Mid, USA West

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(4)
Vet's Park is one of the easiest shore dives in California. There is plentiful parking (bring lots of quarters), restrooms, bottled water vending machines and fresh water showers to rinse off after the dive. Redondo Canyon begins very close to shore here, so access to deep water is only minutes away. Most divers swim straight out from the stairs adjacent to the restrooms until you are parallel to the end of the pier. Dropping down here will put you within just a few kicks of the drop-off. Depths range from 0-40 feet in the shallows to well beyond recreational diving depths in the canyon. During Winter, squid runs bring in mating squid and nearly every animal in the food chain follows them. It is not uncommon to see thousands of mating squid during a big run. Bat rays, blue sharks, sea lions and large Sheep crabs can also be seen here. South of the canyon is the Topaz Street jetty. This can be a productive lobster spot on occasion. The conditions at Vet's are usually better than sites just a few hundred yards south. Flat surf is the norm here, so entry and exit is fairly easy. Located at the intersection of Pearl Street and Esplanade, the parking lot at Veteran's Park has plentiful metered spaces. Stairs to the beach are located at the Southwest end of the lot.
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Heisler Park

California South, USA West

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(8)
If you have non-divers with you, this is a wonderful park for them to hang out; they will soak in as much beauty above water, as you will below! Make a left on Cliff Drive about 1/4 mile North of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. Drive to the Western end of the park.
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Stillwater Beach

California North, USA West

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(8)
Stillwater Beach is found within the Stillwater Cove County Park, and offers possibilities for the beginner through the advanced. The site opens to the Southwest, so it is mostly protected from the Pacific swells. Just a couple of miles South of Salt Point State Park, and North of Fort Ross.
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La Jolla Cove

California South, USA West

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(24)
Diving Mecca! If you haven't dived La Jolla Cove, you aren't a California Diver! Nice park, nice entry, and great diving await you. The area is protected, so the marine life take pleasure in taunting you. Drop by a local dive shop and ask about the seasonal conditions. Swells and rip tides can ruin your day. 11 miles North of San Diego, take the La Jolla Parkway exit to the West. In 1.4 miles bear left on Torrey Pines Road. In 0.85 mile, turn right on Prospect Place. In 0.2 miles, bear left onto Prospect Street; in .35 miles turn right onto Jenner Street; then right onto Coast Blvd. You can't miss it.
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Carmel River North

California North, USA West

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(6)
This is the Northern most dive site of the Carmel River State Beach, and is slightly protected from the Northern swells. Watch the current as your round the rocky point. Carmel Point is located at the Southern end of the Carmel. From Highway 1, take Ocean Ave or 13th Ave toward the sea. Turn left on Scenic Road, and continue to the Southern intersection of Ocean View Ave. You will overlook the beach to your right.
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Refugio State Beach

California Mid, USA West

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(18)
Refugio is a very popular destination for beach-goers. With over 100 campsites (mostly reserved from early on in the vacation season), the beach can be very crowded. But once underwater you won't have to worry about those crowds! Just a short distance off shore you'll find kelp beds and reef, and, for the more adventurous, a rocky point to explore to the West. Found 19 miles West of Santa Barbara, take the Refugio exit of Highway 101, and follow the signs to the beach.
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Cannery Park

California North, USA West

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(9)
Cannery Park (also called San Carlos Beach) is just West of the Breakwater dive site. This is a nice place for a second dive, and to get away from the crowd at Breakwater. The dive area is mainly sandy, so expect to see the occasional Halibut. In Monterey, heading West on Del Monte, bear right onto Lighthouse Ave, then bear right onto Foam St. Make a right onto Cannery Row.
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Gerstle Cove

California North, USA West

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(23)
Gerstle Cove is found within the Salt Point State Park, and offers some of the finest Abalone hunting in this area. About 6 miles North of Fort Ross, you'll find the campground entrance.
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Robert Badham

California Mid, USA West

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(7)
On a good day, you'll find this site worth the effort. Reefs, rocks, sand and kelp line this beach. All levels of divers will find something of interest. Drive 2.9 miles South of the Newport Bridge, and turn right on Poppy Ave. Head straight to the water where you'll see the intersection below.
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Wood Cove

California South, USA West

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(10)
If the crowds are unbearable in the previous sites, try this location further South in Laguna. You'll find everything here, with perhaps fewer fish as this area is not protected. Make a right on Diamond Street about 1.4 miles South of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. The entrance is at the end of Diamond.
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Russian Gulch State Park

California North, USA West

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(5)
With all the amenities you'd expect of a California State Park, this is an excellent place to dive for the day and camp overnight. The area has endless underwater photography opportunities along the rocky coast line. 8 miles South of Fort Bragg, and 2 miles North of Mendocino on Highway 1. For more information on California parks, call 1-800-444-7275 or go to their website <a target="_new" href="http://cal-parks.ca.gov">here</a>.
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South Crescent Bay

California South, USA West

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(17)
South Crescent Bay offers a protected cove area worthy of two tanks! Rocky points, canyons, and reefs make this an ideal habitat for the area's marine life. Make a left on Cliff about 1 mile North of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. You'll see the sign below.
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Mesa Lane

California Mid, USA West

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(3)
Mesa Lane is a well-kept secret with the locals of Santa Barbara. You won't find any facilities here, just a nice stretch of beach with good access. In Santa Barbara off Highway 101, take Las Positas Road exit (Highway 225) to the South for 1.7 miles. Turn left (East) on Cliff Drive; in 1/2 mile turn right onto Mesa Lane and go to the end.
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Arroyo Burrow Park

California Mid, USA West

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(3)
Arroyo Burrow is a popular place for both dive classes and experienced divers. Mostly protected from the Pacific swell (as is most of the Santa Barbara coastline), you'll find this a pleasant dive. There is a restaurant in the park, as well as all other expected facilities. In Santa Barbara off Highway 101, take Las Positas Road exit (Highway 225) to the South for 1.7 miles. Turn right (West) on Cliff Drive, and you'll find the entrance in 1/4 mile.
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Fort Ross South

California North, USA West

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(3)
The Southern site at the Historic Park is a much easier site for entry, but you'll need to kick out a bit to reach the more interesting rocky cliff area. For a scenic ride, take Highway 116 off 101 to the town Jenner. Head North for about 13 miles, and turn left into the Fort Ross State Historic Park. When you reach the actual Fort, turn right down a gravel road heading to the bluffs, and wind your way down to the beach.
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Gaviota State Beach

California Mid, USA West

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(3)
For camping, hiking, fishing and diving, you'll find Gaviota has it all. A nice beach will all the facilities, this is a great weekend get-away! 27 miles West of Santa Barbara, as Highway 101 starts to bear North, you'll see the entrance seaward.
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LA - Cabrillo Beach

California Mid, USA West

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(3)
Cabrillo Beach does not offer any good diving, except when the rare chocolate lobsters are in the area.
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LA - Honeymoon Cove

California Mid, USA West

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(3)
The visibility here averages about ten feet better than the West side of the peninsula. There are numerous pinnacles offshore from Whale Rock at Pt. Vicente. The rocky reefs rise from depths of 80-100 feet+ to within five feet of the surface in places. It's not Farnsworth, but a very nice dive.
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LA - Pt. Vicente Fishing Access

California Mid, USA West

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(3)
Pt. Vicente Fishing Access is another site where you can watch lights under water move all over the place on opening night.
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Shell Beach

California South, USA West

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(3)
Shell Beach offers a little more protection for entry than Breakers. Again, this site should only be dived on a calm day. 200 yards South of La Jolla Cove. (See driving directions for La Jolla Cove)
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Scenery Central California

California Mid, USA West

Not ranked yet
(1)
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Newport Pier

California Mid, USA West

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(1)
The Newport Pier offers an interesting dive for the adventurer. You can dive to 100 feet or more if you want to go beyond the pier; you can traverse the bottom looking for the creatures-of-the-sand; or you can explore under the pier for piling creatures or artifacts from the fishermen above! Head down to New Port Beach. Off the Pacific Coast Highway, turn South on West Balboa Blvd. After 1.2 miles, you should run into the Pier!
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Scenery North California

California North, USA West

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(1)
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Meek's Bay, Tahoe

California North, USA West

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(1)
The beach area is marked off to keep out boat traffic, and while Scuba is allowed in the swim area, Viz is much better outside the swim area. Bring a float to warn boat traffic. The depth outside the swim area is about 15-20 feet, and there is a gradual slope that continues down into the abyss. There is a rocky area along the north side of the bay, along with some petrified trees. Not many fish, but a few crawdads in the area. Temperatures are low, but during summer a thick wetsuit is enough. Visibility typically over 30 feet. It's a common training site because of the ideal conditions. There is a wreck in the bay, but it is located close to the boat lanes. Meek's Bay is located north of Emerald bay on the west side of Lake Tahoe. The dive site is located inside a park/campground called Meek's Bay. It's about a 45 minute drive from the south lake area.
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Scenery South California

California South, USA West

Not ranked yet
(1)
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Rubicon Point, Tahoe

California North, USA West

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(1)
60' - 100' Viz! ~800' depth. Giant granite walls and lots of fish. 6,223' above sea level. 40-50 degF, so bring your dry suit! Lake Tahoe. Contacts: Sierra Diving Center 775-825-2147 (Reno) or Adventure Scuba 775-826-5333 (in Reno) or Tropical Penguins 775-828-3483 (Reno) or Strictly Scuba 775-884-3483 (Carson City)
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Morrow Canyon

California Mid, USA West

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(1)
Morrow Canyon is at the Southern reaches of Crystal Cove State Park, and is provided to show the length of rocky shoreline you have to explore. Drive 1.3 miles South of the previous dive site.
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Reverse Cove

California North, USA West

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(1)
A shallow cove that is relatively well protected from a northern swell. The climb is rough, but the fish and plant life is impressive for a shore dive. Because of the shallow water and hard hike down, this site is better as a free diving site than a SCUBA site, although both are possible. From Carmel or Monterey take the 1 South to Garrapata State Beach. Landmarks get scarce, but you will hit a grove of cypress trees on your left. From there continue a half mile to a dirt turnout on your right. Once you get there, a steep dirt trail takes you into the cove
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Sand Harbor, Tahoe

California North, USA West

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(1)
60' - 100' Viz! ~800' depth. Giant granite walls and lots of fish. 6,223' above sea level. 40-50 degF, so bring your dry suit! Lake Tahoe. Contacts: Sierra Diving Center 775-825-2147 (Reno) or Adventure Scuba 775-826-5333 (in Reno) or Tropical Penguins 775-828-3483 (Reno) or Strictly Scuba 775-884-3483 (Carson City)
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Morro Rock North

California Mid, USA West

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(1)
What a beautiful dive site! With a nice beach and facilities for the non-divers, you will find a technically challenging adventure at Morro Rock. The entry can be difficult and the swim can be long, so talk to the local dive shop before attempting this one. Found in Morro Bay just 12 miles North of San Louis Obispo on Highway 1. Take the Morro Bay Blvd exit to the West; turn right on Main Street; Left on Harbor Street; right on Front Street to parallel the bay; merge onto Embarcadero; then merge onto Coleman Drive, and continue around the bay. If you get lost, just drive toward the big rock-- you can't miss it!
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La Jolla Shores

California South, USA West

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(16)
This is the most popular beach in La Jolla. Sunners, surfers, picnickers, divers and dive classes use this area extensively during the weekends. The area is a fantastic underwater park, with fish hanging around for a handout. This can be an easy or a technically-advanced dive, depending upon your skill level. 11 miles North of San Diego, take the Ardath Road exit to the West. In 1.4 miles turn right on La Jolla Shores Drive. Turn left on Avenida De La Playa, and you'll find the park in 1/2 mile.
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Lovers Point

California North, USA West

beginner
(16)
Lover's Point is the perfect park for divers and non-divers. The small cove above is great for kids, and the cove just beyond in the background is better suited to divers. There are restrictions to diving: you can only dive April to September, weekday mornings before 11:30. Check with a local dive shop for the current restrictions-- they may change from time to time. There are 3 different entry points (at the bottom of each set of stairs) called Lovers 1, Lovers 2, and Lovers 3. Lovers 3 is a bit more advanced, while Lovers 1 and 2 present easier entries/exits In Monterey, heading West on Del Monte, bear right onto Lighthouse Ave, then bear right onto Foam St. Make a right onto David Ave, then a left onto Ocean View Blvd. After you pass the Park on your right, bear right and continue toward the ocean to drop off your gear.
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Deer Creek Beach

California Mid, USA West

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(21)
This dive site is well off the beaten path, and relatively undisturbed. A reef and some kelp are found close to shore with excellent diving just beyond. Just East of Point Mugu State Park; 3.2 miles West of Mulholland Highway intersection with the Pacific Coast Highway (1); and 18 miles West of Malibu.
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Malaga Cove

California Mid, USA West

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(18)
Malaga Cove contains reefs, kelp, sand and rock creatures. Take two tanks, if you have the time and energy! Located in the posh Palos Verdes area, grab your street map and follow along: From the Pacific Coast Highway, head South on Palos Verdes Blvd for 1.4 miles. Turn right on Palos Verdes Drive West. In 1/4 mile, turn right on Via Corta which soon becomes Via Almar. Take your next right (Via Arroyo) to the view below.
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Mendocino Bay

California North, USA West

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(6)
This dive site may be found on the North coast of Mendocino Bay. This wonderful diving beach is also known as The Blow Hole, due to a large hole in a cave to the right of the beach. The cave itself is known for a spectacular collection of nudibranches. Other critters can, of course, be found in the kelp field just off shore. At the South end of Mendocino, take Main Street toward the ocean.
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Christmas Tree Cove

California Mid, USA West

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(15)
For the divers who dug deep into their dive logs to recommend this site, we appreciate your effort! However, we would not recommend attempting this dive for the near to distant future. The cliff access is now a fresh landslide. Please let us know when the site has its trail rebuilt! Located in the posh Palos Verdes area, grab your street map and follow along: From the Pacific Coast Highway, head South on Palos Verdes Blvd for 1.4 miles. Turn right on Palos Verdes Drive West. In 3.8 miles, turn right on Paseo Lunado which becomes Paseo Del Mar. You'll see the park on your right.
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Moss Street Point

California South, USA West

Not ranked yet
(8)
Another out-of-the-way dive spot to beat the crowds is at Moss Street Point. Although usually well protected throughout the year, this area offers a good challenge to the seasoned diver. Make a right on Moss Street about 1.6 miles South of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna. The entrance is at the end of Moss.
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La Jennelle Park

California Mid, USA West

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(9)
This is a good dive for the adventurers among you! After a long drive through areas you have never been before, you'll find sandy parking and a rocky entry. But beyond that, you'll discover some excellent diving for all skill levels. From Highway 101 near Oxnard, take the Victoria Exit South toward Port Hueneme. Drive 6.7 miles to a stop sign. Turn left onto Roosevelt, which becomes Island View Ave. In 3/4 mile turn right on Sawtelle Ave. You'll soon arrive at the picture below.
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LA - Marineland

California Mid, USA West

Not ranked yet
(11)
Marineland has a lot to offer, but is not known as a producer of many large bugs. There are a few here and there. The landslide caused by the Ocean Trails golf course has temporarily ruined a lot of diving in the area between Abalone Cove and White Point. Try diving here after a few days of Santana winds. The diving from White Point to Pt Fermin is mostly 20-40' with sand, rocks and kelp. Visibility can be good a few days out of the year, but it averages between five feet to fifteen feet most of the time.
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Monterey State Beach

California North, USA West

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(11)
Monterey State Beach (also called Del Monte, named after the adjacent road) is a perfect place for new divers. Restrooms, showers, and picnic areas make this a great place to spend the day. You may want to dive this site on a weekday, or arrive very early on a weekend. The parking can be almost impossible otherwise. Be prepared to spot octopus and flounder! From Highway 1 in Monterey, take the Camino Aguajito exit North. You'll see the Park at the intersection of Del Monte Ave.
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Glass Beach

California North, USA West

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(2)
The history of Glass Beach is as colorful as the surf-polished glass that covers it. Once the site for glass bottling factory, it also served as the town dump many years ago. There are still many treasures to uncover on this dive! At the North end of Fort Bragg, turn West from Highway 1 on Elm Street (the Northern-most stop light).
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Moby Ling Cove

California North, USA West

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(3)
Getting its name from an old story of a diver's once in a lifetime encounter with a grey whale this is an out of the way dive site that should only be visited during excellent conditions. On those days when it is not too stormy you can find dives that are untouched in comparison to the more popular Monterey and Carmel dives. From Carmel, or Monterey take the 1 south to Garrapata State Beach. Once in the park look for a grove of cypress trees on your left. Parking is under these trees.
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Malibu - Leo Carrillo

California Mid, USA West

Not ranked yet
(3)
From TJ Jones
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Carmel Point

California North, USA West

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(3)
Carmel Point can be a difficult dive if the conditions are not perfect. For the best diving, you will need to swim for the point where current and swells could greet you. Plan your dive with someone experienced. Carmel Point is located at the Southern end of the Carmel Beach City Park, which lines the whole city front. From Highway 1, take Ocean Ave. West to sea. Turn left on Scenic Road, and continue to the end of the beach.
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Cardiff State Beach

California South, USA West

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For an easy dive, with an interesting reef to explore, try Cardiff State Beach. You'll find the basic facilities here, plus a relatively uncrowded environment. Located 12 miles South of Oceanside, and 24 miles North of San Diego in Cardiff-By-The-Sea.
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Cardiac Hill

California North, USA West

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Here are two of my favorite dive spots, in between Christmas Tree Cove and White Point. As you head south on Palos Verdes Drive West from Lunada Bay (where Christmas Tree cove) is located, right after the Coast Guard's Pt. Vincente lighthouse, you will come to a tall hill, and "Palos Verdes Drive West" becomes "Palos Verdes Drive South". On the Southside of that hill is a parking lot, with restrooms, marking the "Pt. Vincente Fish Access", known to the locals as "Cardiac Hill" There is a steep, but wide, trail to the bottom of the cliff, and a good dive once you get to the beach. Similar to Christmas Tree, but it gets more people-pressure because of the easier access. And further East along Palos Verdes Drive South is the entrance to Old Marineland. A truly wonderful dive spot, with some well-populated rock reefs. There is a gradual, dirt road down to an easy-entry beach on the East end, or for the more advanced/experienced (and depending on the swells), a rock entry on the West end. Developers have their eye on this property, so I don't know how much longer it will stay open, but we should enjoy it while it is.
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Butterfly House

California North, USA West

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The access path leads down the cliff to a rocky staging area just above the dive site. The dive site is a tricky rocky entry for intermediate to advanced divers only. This is an OCEAN EXPOSED dive site, so, conditions can change rapidly. Be prepared for anything, and, don't get in on a questionable day. However, once you're in the water, this dive site is well worth the effort. Rocky reefs, deep shore diving (60-90 feet) and a rich giant kelp forest are all within easy reach once you are in the water at this site. Bring two or three tanks, and, take your time getting your gear down to the staging area in multiple trips before suiting up to avoid injuries. See http://www.saintbrendan.com/cdnsept00/mont9.html for additional information. This site is located just south of Carmel Proper, on Scenic Drive just north of Stewart Way. Proceed South on HWY 1 to Carpenter. Turn right on Carpenter to the For Way Stop at Ocean Avenue. Turn right on Ocean Ave. and follow it all the way down to Scenic. If you miss the left turn onto Scenic, one of two things will happen. Either your car will become hopelessly trapped in the sand, or you will need a regulator to exit your car. (In other words, if you go too far on Ocean, you will be in the ocean). Follow Scenic around until you can see a house that has a roofline that looks like a giant butterfly. That is the dive site. The access path is about 100 feet back towards Carmel.
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Corona del Mar

California Mid, USA West

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Looking for a good jetty to dive? Well, this is the place! Corona Del Mar State Beach has everything you need to enjoy a full day of diving and sunning. Drive 2.5 miles South of the Newport Bridge, and turn right on Jasmine Ave. Head straight to the water. There are also lots of signs pointing you to the park. If all else fails, pull out your GPS!
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The Cliff

California Mid, USA West

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The Cliff is nice dive with easy access. Located at 'The Cliff at Shell Beach', you'll find this a civilized dive! At the North end of Pismo Beach, from Highway 1, exit on Spy Glass Drive. Turn right on Shell Beach Road, and drive for 1/4 mile. You'll see The Cliff on your left.
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Caspar Bay

California North, USA West

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Caspar Bay is an easy dive on all levels. If you're looking for Abalone, try the Southern side of the bay. About 5 miles South of Fort Bragg on Highway 1, head West on Point Cabrillo Drive (located on the South side of the Cabrillio River Bridge)
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Montana de Oro Beach

California Mid, USA West

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(9)
This beach is a nice destination for the day-- plenty to see for a two-tank dive. The underwater scenery is quite rocky, especially around the point where fish, abalone and crab abound. If coming from Highway 101, take the Los Osos Valley Road exit to the North (3 miles South of San Luis Obispo). If coming from Morro Bay, take the Bay Blvd exit South from Highway 1, and turn right on Los Osos Valley Road. Los Osos will merge into Pecho Road. After the merge, drive for 3.8 miles to the park entrance.
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Fort Ross Reef Campground

California North, USA West

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This site is interesting because the underwater structures further out in the cove house a wide variety of marine life. Definitely a two tank dive spot, so bring a picnic lunch with you! Take Highway 116 off 101 to the town Jenner. Head North for about 12 miles (2 miles South of the Historic Park).
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Wipe Out Beach

California South, USA West

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Wipe Out Beach offers an easier entry for new divers. 900 yards South of La Jolla Cove. (See driving directions for La Jolla Cove)
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White Point

California Mid, USA West

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There's something for everyone at White Point. Beginner and expert divers will find interesting underwater vistas to explore. Ship wrecks and old construction have left bits and pieces of history strewn through the area. Plus, reefs and kelp around the point are harbors for the elusive critters. 1.5 miles East of the junction of I-110 and the Pacific Coast Highway, take Western Ave South toward the ocean. In about 5.5 miles, it will merge with West Paseo Del Mar. You'll see the view of the following picture.
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Jade Cove

California Mid, USA West

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Jade Cove is an Adventure in all respects! Plan on making this a full day trek, if not spending the night in the area. After making an incredibly beautiful drive up (or down) the coast, be prepared for a mild version of Gorilla diving. The reward? A souvenir piece of jade to take home to display with your other diving trophies. There are regulations to be aware of. A good starting place for web research is <a target="_new" href="http://www.mbnms.nos.noaa.gov/Intro/press_releases/980708.html">here</a>. <br><br>A rememberence from Daniel S. McDermed: In 1966 my Dad's hobby was scuba diving, and my grandparents' hobby was making jewlery. In the murky water of Jade Cove, Dad's exploration of a small underwater cave produced a large piece of jade that weighed 17 pounds. I remember a young man offered my Dad 35 dollars a pound for it while my Dad stood there in those chilly waters. Dad said "Thanks but this man has some real plans for this chunk." Much more than the money offered was gained from the retained stone. Found 70 miles South of Monterey and 70 miles North of San Luis Obispo, between Gorda and Pacific Valley, on Highway 1.
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Pismo Pier

California Mid, USA West

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(3)
World famous Pismo Beach is home to some fine sand-diving. Plan to spend the day, if not the week, enjoying the area. Once in Pismo Beach, take time to drive to the North and South of the Pier. Choose any spot, preferably away from surfers and fishermen.
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South Casa

California South, USA West

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South Casa is the alternate entry for Children's Pool. This site has two wonderful channels carved from the beach to the sea. This is not a dive for beginners, and should only be attempted on a calm day. 500 yards South of La Jolla Cove. (See driving directions for La Jolla Cove)
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Breakers

California South, USA West

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The Breakers is a less visited beach due its inaccessibility and, as the name implies, it is less protected than La Jolla Cove. People climbing on these rocks have been surprised by rogue swells that have swept them fatally into the sea. Talk to a local dive shop before attempting this dive. Around the Western point of La Jolla Cove. (See driving directions for La Jolla Cove)
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Fort Ross North

California North, USA West

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This is the Northern most site at Fort Ross. It is technically more challenging than the Southern site due to the hike and the rocky entry.<br><br>Notes from Paul Schmitt to a boater's question: There is a boat launch at Timber Cove a few miles north of Fort Ross State Park. I do not suggest taking a 14 foot aluminum boat as the wind usually blows from the north to the south and picks up late in the morning and really starts blowing hard in the afternoon. An Avon rubber boat is much safer. They will launch the boat for you at Timber cove. I haven't been to Fort Ross for a few years and it seems to me they have stopped all traffic down to the beach. Another outstanding state park with a boat launch is just north of Timber Cove at Salt Point. Timber Cove and Salt Point are usually populated with experienced divers on the week end. Take some time and talk to the divers down on the beach for current conditions and advice. Please note the seas and weather off the north coast of California can be very dangerous, especially if you are not familiar with the area. While diving from shore at the park may be a pain, it is much safer than attempting it in a small boat. For a scenic ride, take Highway 116 off 101 to the town Jenner. Head North for about 13 miles, and turn left into the Fort Ross State Historic Park. You'll see this site before you get to the Fort.
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Carnelian Bay, Tahoe

California North, USA West

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60' - 100' Viz! ~800' depth. Giant granite walls and lots of fish. 6,223' above sea level. 40-50 degF, so bring your dry suit! Lake Tahoe. Contacts: Sierra Diving Center 775-825-2147 (Reno) or Adventure Scuba 775-826-5333 (in Reno) or Tropical Penguins 775-828-3483 (Reno) or Strictly Scuba 775-884-3483 (Carson City)
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Leffingwell Landing

California Mid, USA West

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It has a small cement ramp leading to the sand to launch kayaks or small zodiac style boats as you have to carry them across the sand a short distance to the water. Depth with in the cove is shallow with bad vis often but clears up as you head out further. If you stand at the cove and look out at the water you will see a wash rock a ways out. We tend to kayak and anchor to the north of the rock to spearfish. We have had vis up to 40ft at that location depending on conditions. The dive spot is located in Cambria on Moonstone Drive. As you cross the bridge you will see the cove and small ramp leading to the beach.
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Windansea

California South, USA West

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If you find an exceptionally calm day, dive Windansea. At the Southern entry you can find a rocky point to explore, and a few minutes off shore, you'll find a large reef. Because this beach is fully exposed to the full power of the Pacific, treat this site with respect. 11 miles North of San Diego, take the Ardath Road exit to the West. In 1.4 miles bear left on Torrey Pines Road; 0.85 mile, turn right on Prospect Place; 0.2 miles, bear left onto Prospect Street; 0.75 miles bear left onto La Jolla Blvd; 1.1 mile turn right onto Palomar Ave. The beach is straight ahead.
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San Onofre State Beach

California South, USA West

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This location, although great for surfers and sunners, probably will not have the best visibility for diving. The shallow reefs, however, do house a wide variety of marine life perfect for you underwater fishermen! Located 3 miles South of San Clemente, and 19 miles North of Oceanside. From I-5, take the Basilone Exit South and travel 1.4 miles down the Old Highway 101.
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LA - Wreck of the Avalon

California Mid, USA West

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(1)
The wreck of the Avalon lies off Chiswick Drive. Can be a good bug spot early in the season. There are various spots nearby with local names not found on charts, including Drainpipe, Toilet Bowl Reef and Paddleboard Cove.
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North Crescent Bay

California Mid, USA West

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(1)
Laguana Beach, Dead Man's reef. I did a day dive there for the first time on the 4th.. It was Awesome! It was a nite dive.. My first, and let me tell u it was freaky! NO moon, no stars and fog! It was last week at 8pm.. The surf was nothing, small swells no biggie, but the surge was a pain. Back and forth back and forth.. Lol We had a 54 minute dive.(alum.100). Caught 1 legal Lobster- Had a blast, glad I did it.. Scared and all!! Vis was around 25 feet Which is great for there..temp 64----not bad at all..A long swim to the reef but well worth it. Night life was amazing!
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Ocean Cove

California North, USA West

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(1)
The main reason people go here is abalone diving. I did see several legal ones, however it seemed slightly inferior to the Stillwater cove less than two miles away. For spear fishing however I found it to be better. While free diving I pulled a ~30 inch ling cod out of only fifteen foot deep water. There are also many more perch, and rockfish than I had observed at Stillwater cove the day before. It is also a very calm site, and would serve as a good beginner dive for anyone wanting to make their first abalone dive. This site is only a few minutes north of Stillwater beach near salt point. take the highway 1 north until you see the Ocean Cove Store. From there take a left there will be a campground head into the camp ground and take the first right, that will take you to a boat ramp, enter anywhere near the ramp.
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Hearst Beach

California Mid, USA West

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(5)
A great place for finding creatures-of-the-sand, Hearst Beach offers a protected cove that's perfect for new divers getting their feet wet, or old divers checking out new gear. It's a full service park with concessions, so plan on staying the day. Drive 34 miles North on Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo.
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Malibu - Corral

California Mid, USA West

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(1)
From TJ Jones
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LA - Old Pier Pilings

California Mid, USA West

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The old pier pilings and the jetty. The Palawan and the Sacramento wrecks lie offshore here if you like to dive deep. Closer to shore, there is a small reef off Rat (right after Torrance) Beach.
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LA - Lunada Bay

California Mid, USA West

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(1)
Diving in Lunada Bay can be hazardous to your boat. Not so much by the waves, but by the Bay Boys, a local terrorist group of surfers.
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Indian Beach

California North, USA West

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This site it only diveable a couple of times a year when the wind has died down for a few days. You can go straight out from the beach and kick straight out to the closes rock (Seal Rock). This is a fun dive. If you are more ambitious, there are several other rocks to swim out to explore. From US-101 take the Trinidad Exit. Follow the main road towards the water, you will go through town and down a big hill to the beach parking lot. On the right, there will be a beach with lots of swell (State Beach) and on the left there is a restaurant, boat launch and calm beach great for diving and kayaking. You can even drive your truck out on the beach and park there.
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LA - King Harbor

California Mid, USA West

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A good bug spot is the King Harbor break wall in Redondo Beach. Heading south, there is Redondo Canyon, which is a great dive in the Winter when the squid are mating.
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LA - Gauntlet

California Mid, USA West

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South of Drainpipe is the Gauntlet. This is a line of legal lobster traps stretched along the boundary from Rocky Point to Point Dume. Any trap found North of here should be destroyed and reported to DF&G. As you head around the extensive kelp bed of Rocky Point, you can see wreckage of the Dominator on the beach and, at low tide, what remains of the stern section sticking out of the water.
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LA - Break Wall

California Mid, USA West

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The L.A. break wall is home to every kind of plant and animal you will find on the peninsula, all in a relatively small area. Diving here is from as shallow as one foot to fifty feet. A buddy of mine got an 18 pound lobster in less than two feet of water two years ago, then released it when he noticed it was a female with eggs. The Middle Break Wall can be a great producer of legal size bugs. For the photographer, there are numerous varieties of Nudibranches.
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Malibu - Big Rock

California Mid, USA West

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From TJ Jones
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Zepher Cove, Tahoe

California North, USA West

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60' - 100' Viz! ~800' depth. Giant granite walls and lots of fish. 6,223' above sea level. 40-50 degF, so bring your dry suit! Lake Tahoe. Contacts: Sierra Diving Center 775-825-2147 (Reno) or Adventure Scuba 775-826-5333 (in Reno) or Tropical Penguins 775-828-3483 (Reno) or Strictly Scuba 775-884-3483 (Carson City)
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Nicholas Canyon

California Mid, USA West

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This site has beautiful rock formations and lots of life. This site is extremely beautiful. Gear up in the parking lot. It cost 2 dollars to park. There are bathrooms in the parking lot and 1/2 mile down the driveway or stairs. At the end of the driveway there are showers, too. You can go straight out from the stairs or enter to the right, down the path. The rock formation is about 72 yards out. The depth ranges from 20-40 feet. The conditions can be very calm and one day extremely ruff. This site is one of the more beautiful sights in California.
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Hurricane Bay, Tahoe

California North, USA West

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60' - 100' Viz! ~800' depth. Giant granite walls and lots of fish. 6,223' above sea level. 40-50 degF, so bring your dry suit! Lake Tahoe. Contacts: Sierra Diving Center 775-825-2147 (Reno) or Adventure Scuba 775-826-5333 (in Reno) or Tropical Penguins 775-828-3483 (Reno) or Strictly Scuba 775-884-3483 (Carson City)