If you are planning a diving trip to the Los Angeles area, there are a few locations that you just can’t miss if you want to get the full diving experience in LA.
Alternatively, if you live in the area and are just getting into diving, you’re probably wondering about where the best places to dive are and what to expect from those places when you get there.
Luckily, we have gathered up some of the best places to dive in the state and especially in the Los Angeles area. Each of these locations is within close proximity to LA, allowing you to conveniently access them at any point.
However, if you’re traveling to LA for a diving trip, you’ll want to make sure that you spend some time organizing your trip and working out the logistics to make sure that it’s a trip that isn’t wasted!
Read along to learn about some of the best diving spots in LA and even discover some hidden gems!
Veterans Park, Redondo Beach
If you’re looking for a relaxing, calm diving site, then Veterans Park might be a great choice for you. This diving location is known for its calm waters and easy entries and exits. This makes it perfect not only for new divers looking to get their “feet wet”, but also experienced divers looking for a change of pace or a nice relaxing dive.
Another thing that this spot is great for is training dives. For anybody that is training for certain events or jobs, this would make a great location. The neutral conditions lend itself to a totally blank slate where you can test new methods, equipment, and technology.
It’s also one of the few locations in LA that is completely safe for night dives!
Entering the dive spot is quite easy, especially when compared to many other dive locations in California and around the rest of the country. You’ll be able to simply walk right down a sloping sandy bottom to find a canyon with a steep drop off that gets the blood pumping. For those not in need of an adrenaline rush, simply skim across the bottom and look at the sandy wonders below.
The location is great for muck diving. There’s lots of sand dollars, rays, horn sharks, crabs, shrimp, and various other small marine life along the wall of the canyon. These can be found at depths between 60 and 80 feet.
At night, you can see shrimp, lobsters, nudibranchs, bat rays, rockfish, octopus, and eels. Seahorses have been known to frequent the area, as well.
If you visit in the winter, you can see the fabled squid runs. During these times, you could witness thousands of squid, intent on mating pass through the area.
As for dive conditions themselves, water temperatures can range from 60 to 70 degrees, which is right in the comfort zone. As you go deeper, temps will get chillier. You can enter the park at basically any time, but you should take note of when there is high surf for safety reasons.
Leo Carillo, Malibu
The next diving location on our list of the top 4 diving spots in Los Angeles is Leo Carrillo State beach. This diving location is easily accessible via the shore and is right off the beach, making it a very popular destination. Luckily, there is plenty of room and plenty to see!
This also means that if you want to dive here, you will want to be aggressive and proactive in getting your reservations because they fill up very quickly.
One of the things that this location is well-known for is its great visibility. Under the right conditions, this location can have some of the best visibility in the state. On those days, you can see lots of kelp fields with marine life.
The great thing about this beach is that it offers more than just diving. For nature lovers, there’s plenty of geography to explore. There are nature walks, coastal caves, tide pools, reefs, and giant sycamores that shade the area. Head there for a dive, stay for the above-ground nature!
Another reason why people love this location is that you can see just about anything when you’re in the water. The location has been known to be visited by sharks, large rays, and even halibut.
More commonly, there are schools of perch, bat rays, soupfin sharks, lobsters, cabezon, sheep crabs, octopus, and kelpfish. Sometimes, a harbor seal or sea lion may pass by.
The beach is also suitable for night dives and is mainly used for lobster hunting at those times of night. parking and access is incredibly easy here, so getting in the water is very easy.
This location is considered suitable for divers of any skill level, as entries and exits are quite easy and shouldn’t pose a challenge to divers who are just starting out.
Catalina Island Scuba Diving
Next up in our journey through the best 4 diving locations in Los Angeles is the famous Catalina Island Scuba Diving experience. Catalina Island is also featured as Top Pick Places for scuba diving in California by our writers. To get to this amazing diving location, you will have to take a 2 mile boat ride to the island. For this reason, it’s recommended that you plan well in advance to make sure you can secure transportation to the diving area.
Once you get there, you’ll see what everyone loves to see when they get underwater–giant kelp beds. The Catalina Island diving site is known for its huge kelp forests which draw hundreds of species of small fish and some predators. Divers can choose from a range of activities around the island, including lobster hunting, exploring underwater features, finding caves, and simply enjoying the fresh Pacific waters.
Conditions are fairly standard on Catalina Island. Water temperatures in the area are around 50 degrees in the winter and 70 degrees in the summer. Visibility is good to great on any given day with ranges of up to 40 feet with no problem at all. If you want to avoid the crowds here, head to the Island during the winter months, which have colder temperatures. You’ll need special gear during these months to stay warm.
There are two options for getting to Cataline Island. In a matter of 15 minutes, you can arrive from the mainland in a helicopter. Otherwise, you’ll have to book an hour-long ferry ride. The ferry leaves several times per day, and a round-trip ticket will run about $75. If you’re going to take the ferry over, make sure that you arrive to the departure location about 40 minutes before the scheduled departure.
You should be able to get a same-day ticket when you go diving, but nothing is guaranteed with a location this popular.
Again, it’s recommended that you bring the proper equipment. It can be quite chilly in the winter months, and for that reason, some divers recommend bringing a 7 mm suit and hood to keep warm. It’s a matter of personal preference, though.
Catalina Island is known for its variety of wildlife and plenty of places to explore. So, what are you waiting for? Check it out today!
Casino Point, Avalon
In recent years, the dive location at Casino Point has exploded in popularity, and for good reason! The main reason for this has been an added access point from the ocean. It’s now incredibly easy to access this dive and that makes it a popular destination for hobbyists.
One of the great features of this entry point is that you can watch others enter and exit, enabling the ability to learn from their entry and whether it was successful or not. A helpful tip is to time the surge of water when you are entering to avoid getting pushed back.
The city of Avalon has put a great deal of effort into making this location a lot more diver friendly by increasing access and putting protections in place to encourage more marine life. You can see lots of sea life and it represents a great opportunity to bring a camera.
A unique feature of this site is that you can often find small wrecks to explore, which are always fun and usually full of marine life. This is a very beginner-friendly site, so don’t be too intimidated!
Now that you’ve learned all about the best 4 diving locations in Los Angeles let’s recap.
- Veterans Park at Redondo Beach is perfect for a calm dive or for testing methods, tech, and equipment.
- Leo Carillo offers a wide variety of marine life. You might be surprised by what you see there on any given day! Other than that, it is surrounded by campgrounds and wildlife, making it the perfect day adventure.
- Catalina Island may be a little inconvenient to access, but it’s worth the trip. There’s plenty to explore and you can see some great wildlife. Chilly, but great visibility!
- Casino Point is a fast-riser and is quickly becoming one of the top places in the region to dive. From shipwrecks to unique rock formations, you won’t ever be bored here!