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Californian Channel Islands?

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Hi knowledgeable Waterpixels folk,


I've wanted to dive in California for a while now but get a bit bamboozled searching online and as I'm coming over from the UK I want to get it right - can anyone recommend an operator or itinerary? 


Thank you in advance!

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I did a 9days Channel Islands liveaboard with Truth Aquatics. In terms of planning, this was the easiest way for me. I found out at the time that providers only offered diving trips on the weekends


Edited by Alex B
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As well as boats, you can shore dive the casino point on Catalina. Get a ferry from LA, then you rent a trolley, cylinders and weights from the dive centre. Then take your trolley up to the casino and take yourself diving. There is also a kayak rental outfit where you can rent a dive kayak. This was all >20 years ago, so could be out of date by now. I found one of my articles on the web archive. 


There is another article some where about the shore diving.

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I dived out at Catalina island on a boat organised by Bluewater photo a few years back.  As I was flying in, I asked about tanks and weights and it seemed like it was a difficult problem to hire them and they ended up organising one of their staff loan me a tank and weights.  That may be because I was dealing with Bluewater rather than a dive shop?  


The boat I was on did tank fills (incl nitrox) on the boat.  The boats seem to go out of San Pedro near Long Beach.  The boats are separate operations to the dive shops.  I expect if you emailed one of the dive shops in this area they could help you out with what you need to hire and booking onto a boat.  On the boat I was on I needed cash to pay for Nitrox (and tips for the crew).  If I recall correctly the boat trip included air fills and breakfast/lunch.  This shop is closeby to the San Pedro harbour and has trips out to Catalina on its schedule:  https://pacificwilderness.com/?page_id=521  I've not used them but they are close to where the boats leave from. 


I went in August and was lucky to have really nice conditions water varied from 20°C at some sites to 16°C at another.

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The California Channel Islands are a fantastic dive destination.  As i see it there are two main options diving either the Southern Channel Islands out of Long Beach or San Pedro or the Northern Islands out of Venture or Santa Barbra.


Southern Islands include: Catalina, San Clemente, (my favorite), Santa Barbara and San Nicolas but this island is very weather dependent.  


Northern Channel Islands:  Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Island.  


Usually local dive shops will charter boats and you can rent tank and weights with them.  A really goos book with 98 dive spot descriptions is "A Scuba Diver's Guide to the California Channel Islands"  By Dale and Kim Sheckler a resource I would highly recommend.  


Water is temperate a 7mm wetsuit with hood or even better and what i use is a drysuit. You can stay in Venture or Santa Barbra dive the Northern Islands and do a side trip up to Monetary do dive that area as well.


I have few California scuba videos on my YouTube channel - Peter Neubauer I live in San Diego so i am close enough to have dove all the islands.  Kelp forests are a great ecosystem to explore.  


Hope this helps

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  • 1 month later...

A lot depends on what part of the CI you want to visit.  Our favorite is San Miguel the northernmost and furthest out (and hardest to get to). Catalina is the easiest to get to and is a place you can stay on land but to me it has the least interesting diving (at least for macro things unless you can get to the backside and go to Farnsworth (awesome).  For overnight trips, your choices are the Bottom Scratcher from San Pedro, the Peace and Truth boats from Ventura. 


For day boat diving we highly recommend the Giant Stride from San Pedro and the Spectre from Ventura.  Check with local dive shops (Hollywood, Zen, Pacific Wilderness, In2Deep etc.) for trips. 


For a taste of local diving check out


particularly the Channel Islands on the Vision for a taste of San Miguel.


Let me know when you are coming perhaps we can help arrange some diving for you.


Attached is a nice local nudi (Ancula) from a Giant Stride dive last week.




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