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5 Best Places for Scuba Diving in California

California is world-renowned for its amazing diving locations. However, if you’re new to the area, you might be feeling lost and want to hear from a local firsthand about the diving that is available in California. Luckily, this rundown will do exactly that.

California is full of amazing diving spots, and there is no shortage of locations for you to enjoy the wildlife and scenery that California has to offer. However, some are better than others.

This article will dive into the top 5 diving locations for scuba diving in California. Not only will it tell you the best 5 locations, but we will also tell you about each of the locations and what they have to offer. Follow along to learn about these locations and decide if they are right for you!


Top 5 Diving Locations

Now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for. Whether you’re a longtime resident of California looking to scout new locations or you are planning a trip to California, these top 5 diving locations in California will provide you with experiences that you’ll never forget.


#1: Scuba Diving in San Francisco Bay Area

If you’re planning a trip to California, then the San Francisco area should be number 1 on your list. If you can’t make it to any other location, make sure that you stop by the beautiful sites that San Francisco has to offer.

San Francisco’s diving areas are well-known around the country and the world, mainly due to the lush underwater life that can be very beautiful in high-visibility waters. These sites are also very well-known for their interesting and challenging topography. Here you can find an article with 4 Best Places in San Francisco for Scuba Diving.

When you’re diving in San Francisco, it’s important to always dive to your skill level and not try to be too ambitious. Luckily, most of the sites in this area are pretty approachable for almost any skill level of diver.

Divers that love to take photographs will appreciate the diving locations in San Francisco the most. The underwater nature is known for its color. Though photographers love it, there’s something for everybody there.

Lastly, if you’re looking to learn diving, there are lots of classes available from diving instructors and schools with great reputations. San Francisco should certainly be a bucket list item for any diver that wants to put more sites under their belt.


Top Pick: Farallon Island

Farallon Island is the best place to dive in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This is because of the variety of marine life that you can find there. Everything from sea lions to great white sharks call this place home, so you’re sure to see some interesting things when you’re diving.

The best time to dive at Farallon Island is during the summer months, when the visibility is at its highest. However, if you’re looking for a challenge, then winter is the best time to go. The waves and currents can be much more challenging during this time, but it’s all part of the experience.


#2: Scuba Diving in San Diego

Next up for the top diving scenes in California is San Diego. San Diego is another world-renowned diving area with lots to offer both beginners and experienced divers.

San Diego’s waters are some of the warmest in California, which can be very welcoming for divers that are used to diving in colder climates. The average water temperature is around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, San Diego’s water visibility isn’t always the best. It can range from 10-30 feet, depending on the location. But, if you’re up for a challenge, there are plenty of interesting wrecks and caves to explore.

Like San Francisco, there are many diving locations that are perfect for divers of all skill levels. One of the best parts of diving in San Diego is the kelp forests that are available for you to explore. These forests can be home to some of the most amazing underwater wildlife.

San Diego is a great place to learn diving as well. There are many instructors and schools that can help you get started on your diving journey.

If you want to know more about Best Places for Scuba Diving in San Diego, check this article here.

Top Pick: La Jolla Cove Diving

La Jolla Cove is a top option for diving in San Diego.  This is because of the clear waters and the variety of marine life that you can find there. La Jolla Cove is also a great place for beginners since it has shallow areas.

La Jolla Cove is known for its kelp fields, which are home to a variety of unique underground wildlife.   These kelp forests can be a great place to learn about the different types of marine life that you can find in California waters.

If you’re looking for a challenge, then La Jolla Cove is also a great place to find it. There are many areas with cliffs and drop-offs that will give you a thrill.

The Cove has remained a destination due to its protected status as part of the Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve.   This means that the Cove is kept pristine and is perfect for those hoping to see some amazing things. It also means that fishing, camping, and hunting are banned within this area.

Another benefit of this area is that visitors and divers cannot take any geological items.  This helps to keep the area looking as beautiful as it did when first discovered.


#3: Monterey Scuba Diving

The next area that we want to highlight as one of the best places to dive in California is Monterey. Monterey is a very popular destination for both tourists and divers alike. Here you can find a list with 9 Best Places in Monterey Scuba Diving.

Monterey is most well-known for being home to the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. This aquarium is world-renowned and attracts millions of visitors each year.

What many people don’t know is that the aquarium also offers scuba diving experiences. These experiences are only available to certified divers, but they’re definitely worth it.

If you’re not interested in diving at the aquarium, there are still plenty of other great options for diving in Monterey. There are many dive sites that offer beautiful underwater scenery and plenty of marine life to see.


Top Pick: Point Lobos

If you want to dive in Monterey, then there’s only one clear winner for the best location: Point Lobos.  Point Lobos is a beautiful state reserve that offers some of the best diving in all of California.

The underwater scenery is breathtaking and the marine life is abundant. You’re sure to see plenty of seals, sea lions, otters, and even whales if you’re lucky.

Point Lobos is suitable for basically any diver of any skill level.  However, it’s important to note that the currents can be strong at times.

So, if you’re not an experienced diver, then it’s best to go with a guide or instructor. But, if you’re up for the challenge, then Point Lobos is definitely worth checking out.


#4: Los Angeles Scuba Diving

Los Angeles is home to some of the best scuba diving locations in California.  The city is located on the coast, so there are plenty of great places to choose from.

One of the best things about diving in Los Angeles is the variety that you can find. There are many different types of dive sites available, so you’re sure to find one that suits your skill level and interests.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing dive or an adrenaline-pumping experience, Los Angeles has it all.

There are many shallow dive sites that are perfect for beginners. These sites usually have calm waters and plenty of marine life to see.

If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, then there are also deeper dive sites available. These sites usually have stronger currents and more advanced wildlife.

No matter what you’re looking for, Los Angeles is sure to have a dive site that’s perfect for you.


Top Pick: Catalina Island

Catalina Island represents everything that is amazing about scuba diving in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.  The island is home to some of the best dive sites in California.

The visibility is usually quite good and there’s an abundance of marine life to see. If you’re going to give Catalina Island a try, you’ll have to get there by boat. The island offers a convenient ferry.

Alternatively, if it is within your budget, you can elect to rent a helicopter, which will get you to the island in just 15 minutes.

But, once you’re there, you’ll be able to find a dive site that’s perfect for your skill level and interests.

Water temperature at Catalina can reach as low as the mid-50s in winter, but is a very nice 70 degrees in the summer. Visibility there is great, sitting between 30 and 40 feet at any given time.

If you want to avoid the crowds when diving here, you should visit in January and February, which are the winter months and feature the coldest water.

Catalina Island is definitely a top pick for the best place to dive in Los Angeles.


#5: The Channel Island Scuba Diving

One of the lesser-known, but equally as impressive locations for scuba diving in California is The Channel Island. The Channel Island is a chain of eight islands that are located off the coast of California. These islands are home to some of the best dive sites in the state. Here are the Best Places in The Channel Islands for Scuba Diving, listed by our writers.

The visibility is usually quite good and there’s an abundance of marine life to see. If you’re looking for a challenge, then The Channel Island is definitely the place for you. The currents can be quite strong at times, so it’s important to be an experienced diver before you attempt to dive here.

But, if you’re up for the challenge, then The Channel Island is definitely worth checking out.


Top Pick: Anacapa Island

In The Channel Island area, the best spot to check out is Anacapa Island. Anacapa Island is widely regarded as one of the most naturally beautiful and interesting dive sites in the state.

What makes Anacapa Island so intriguing is its difficulty. The currents can be very strong at times, so it’s important to be an experienced diver before you attempt to dive here.

Another draw to Anacapa Island is its underwater giant kelp fields. These kelp fields are home to a variety of marine life, including seals, sea lions, otters, and even whales. In the waters surrounding Anacapa Island, you can dive up to 60 feet deep.  This is a great depth for experienced divers who are looking for a thrill.

One thing to know if you are going to dive at Anacapa Island is that water temperatures can vary greatly off the coast of this island. So, you should plan accordingly. It is known for having cool to cold water.

The warmest water will come at the end of summer. This also creates amazing conditions for visibility. But, even in the winter months, Anacapa Island is still an excellent place to dive.

Lastly, lovers of caverns and caves will love diving at Anacopa. The island features an extensive of caves that you can only reach by diving. In these caves, you can feel like a true explorer and see wildlife that you won’t be able to see at any other site in the area. Common wildlife that you will see while diving here includes bat stars, bright blood stars, giant brown kelp, a variety of fish, purple urchins, sheepshead, lobsters, and giant spined stars.


Things You Should Know Before Diving in California

When it comes to diving, safety always comes first. The best way to be as safe as possible is to gather as much information as possible. The more that you know about the area that you’re entering, the better prepared you are. And if you are prepared, then you can avoid the possibility of injury or inconvenience.

Not only that but knowing what to expect and how to approach your diving trip could save you hours of planning time and make your trip much more enjoyable.

Here are some of the top things that you should know before going diving in California.


Best Time for Scuba Diving in California

The best time for diving in California really varies depending on the location. In general, the water is warmest from June to September. But, there are some areas that are better at different times of the year.

For example, if you’re looking to dive in San Francisco, then the best time would be August or September when the water visibility is at its best. But, if you’re looking to dive in Los Angeles, then the best time would be during the winter months when the water is at its clearest.

In short, it really varies depending on where you want to go diving. The best way to find out is to research the specific location where you’re interested in diving.

This might not seem like an important consideration, but the time that you pick out for going scuba diving in California is actually crucial. The first reason that this is an important decision is that you want to be able to prepare yourself for the conditions that will be present during your visit.

Left unprepared, you could be restricted from diving in certain areas due to a lack of proper equipment. Additionally, you could be cutting yourself off from certain experiences because some areas are only open during certain times. Make sure that you put in the work to research what the best time to go diving is for your individual needs.


Cost of Diving in California

The cost of diving in California can also vary depending on where you’re planning to go. In general, the prices for diving trips and courses tend to be a bit higher than average.

This is because California is such a popular destination for divers from all over the world. However, there are ways to save money on your diving trip. One way is to look for group discounts. Many diving operators offer group discounts for parties of 10 or more people.

Another way to save money is to book your trip in advance. Many diving operators offer early bird discounts for those who book their trip a few months in advance.

Last but not least, you can also look for diving package deals. This is where you book your accommodation, diving trip, and other activities all in one go. This can often save you a significant amount of money.

Diving isn’t the cheapest hobby, but with a little legwork, you can make the cost much more tolerable. It’s important to budget when you are planning out a new scuba diving trip. Your travels can take you all sorts of places, and knowing what it will cost to do transportation, lodging, and for any other expenses that come up along the way will be central to ensuring that you have a good experience.

By planning ahead and doing dives within your budget, you can maximize the number of dives that you do and cross bucket list items off your list rapidly!


Where to Stay While Scuba Diving in California

When it comes to finding accommodation, there are many options available. You can choose to stay in a hotel, motel, AirBnB, or even camp on the beach.

Of course, the type of accommodation that you choose will depend on your budget and preferences.

If you’re on a tight budget, then you might want to consider staying in a hostel or camping on the beach.

But, if you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, then you might want to stay in a hotel or AirBnB. No matter what your budget is, you’ll be able to find accommodation that suits your needs.

An important consideration to make when you are planning your lodging for your scuba diving trip in California will be the proximity of the accommodations to your desired diving sites.

There can be a lot of logistics to consider when planning a trip, so making sure that you make things easier on yourself when booking your lodging could make a huge difference in the quality and enjoyment of your excursion.

A good idea would be to try and get a hotel or AirBnB that is centrally located to all of the diving sites that you would like to experience. That way, you can minimize the amount of time that you spend on driving and maximize the amount of time that you spend on diving!


Deep Sea Diving in California

Deep sea diving is one of the most popular activities for scuba divers in California. This is because there are many interesting things to see at deeper depths.

Some of the most popular deep sea diving spots in California include Catalina Island, Anacapa Island, and Point Lobos.

Each of these spots has something unique to offer divers.

For example, Catalina Island is home to many shipwrecks. This makes it a popular spot for those who are interested in exploring history underwater.

On the other hand, Anacapa Island is known for its kelp forests. This makes it a popular spot for those who want to see marine life up close. No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find a deep sea diving spot that’s perfect for you.

If you are going to go deep sea diving in California or deep sea diving in the state interests you greatly, then it might be a good idea to work with a guide or another diver that is experienced in the area. Deep sea diving requires more organization than regular diving and can be more dangerous, as well. Make sure that you take all the necessary precautions and planning steps before you go on a deep sea diving adventure in California.


Final Words

Scuba diving is a great way to explore the underwater world. But, before you go diving, there are a few things that you should know.

By following the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to having a safe and enjoyable diving trip.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your next California diving adventure today!