If you’ve always wanted to take scuba diving lessons, experience unparalleled adventure and see the world beneath the waves, this is where it starts. Get your scuba diving certification with the PADI® Open Water Diver course
The PADI Dry Suit Diver course will equip you to make the most of California’s diving year round. PADI Underwater Naturalist Specialty course helps you identify and appreciate the variety of marine life.
La Jolla Cove – Get there early, because if there’s one problem with this easily accessible shore dive just north of San Diego, it’s the parking. With that sorted, you’ll have only a few steps between you and some great diving. The entry is from a sandy beach and you’ll immediately pass some interesting rocky reefs on your way out to the kelp beds. Keep an eye out for playful sea lions and leopard sharks. Make sure to slow down at some point and look for the small stuff; the nudibranchs you’ll find here are spectacular.
Catalina Island – Just an hour-long ferry ride from Los Angeles, you’ll find laidback Catalina Island and perhaps the best shore dive in Southern California. Divers can hit the water right from the steps at Casino Point Dive Park to explore rocky reefs, which drop quickly to 30 metres/100 feet. If you don’t like long surface swims and want a world-class kelp diving experience, this is the place. You’ll encounter a wide variety of marine life – everything from nudibranchs to angel sharks and sea lions. There’s a resident pair of enormous black sea bass here too, just don’t forget to breathe when you first see them, as they are BIG.
Monterey Bay - Deep water close to shore makes Monterey an ideal spot for unbridled ocean action, with the chance to spot sea creatures big and small. Many choose to shore dive here, with great opportunities to swim with sea lions at the San Carlos Beach breakwater, and towering kelp forests at Lovers Point. But don’t miss the chance to explore iconic spots such as The Pinnacles, where two rock pinnacles just 30 metres/100 feet from the sea floor, surrounded by dense, fish-filled kelp forests.
Channel Islands National Park - Sometimes called the Galapagos of North America, the Channel Islands are about as wild and uninhabited as it gets. Just a short boat trip from the mainland, the beautiful rocky shorelines are home to sea lions, sea birds, whales and dolphins. Giant kelp forests underpin the islands’ marine ecosystems, and cold and nutrient-rich currents support a staggering variety of marine life. You’ll need more than a day trip to really experience this aquatic playground.
Off the coast of California you can see humpback whales, great white sharks, and droves of sea lions and dolphins. The fertile waters bring plenty of animals cruising around the shore. Expect to swim through kelp forests with tuna and paddle through the shallows, checking out octopi and starfish.
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