Diving in California

This article is intended to provide the already qualified Scuba diver with information which will help to plan dives in the waters of California, whether as a local resident or a visitor. Information is not guaranteed accurate or complete. Use it at your own risk.


With hundreds of miles of coastline, California is a great place to scuba dive.

General Topography[edit]

Climate, Weather and Sea conditions[edit]

The Marine Ecology[edit]




Get around[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Dive Sites[edit]

Northern California[edit]

Farallon Islands:

Central California[edit]


Southern California[edit]

Channel Islands:

San Diego:

As one might expect, the San Diego area is a haven for Scuba Diving and assorted diving activities, none more so than La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores. La Jolla is the home of the Leopard Shark, and despite the ferocious name, this summer resident is not dangerous. The Leopard Sharks cruise in schools, with many congregating on the bottom at the beach between La Jolla Shores and the Marine Room. This is where the pups are born, and in general they grow to about four feet long and live 25 years.

Dive sites include:

  • La Jolla Cove - features many reef areas, caves and kelp. This is the area for underwater photographers, deep divers and night divers. The water here is rich in nutrients, hence the abundance of marine seals that are absolutely harmless and who will sometimes join in the dive with you.
  • La Jolla Shores - a long sandy beach close to La Jolla Cove, just a short walk from the village of La Jolla. The area is also an international snorkeling destination, and advanced divers have easy access to the La Jolla submarine canyon. This is where the slope steepens rather dramatically, and depths can reach up to 60'.
  • HMCS Yukon - a sunken Canadian destroyer and is one of San Diego's more popular dives. It was sunk intentionally in 2000, and lies about two miles of the coastline of San Diego. Almost all of the ship is within easy reach of the weekend diver, and she lies in about 100 feet of water. Many holes have been cut in the hull to help the divers, and all the hazardous items were removed prior to the sinking. Coins were also hidden in the ship to provide prizes for divers who found them. The ship was supposed to sit upright on the bottom, but an accident the day before the sinking, means she now rests on her port side. The ship however is beginning to deteriorate fast, and the chilly waters at that depth make this now a challenging dive.
  • San Elijo State Beach - known for great surfing. When the conditions are suitable in June and September, it can be a relaxed dive and not as crowded as some others. The shallow reefs are abundant with kelp, and you can also expect some high surf.
  • Pipes - located in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and the shallow reef and kelp are perfect for experienced shore divers. The water is less than 30', and the heavy surge can be dangerous, as can be the surfers that must be avoided when passing through the surf zone.
  • Ruby E - a local wreck that lies in about 80' of water off the coast of Mission Beach. The upright ship is part of the 200-acres Mission Beach artificial reef, and she is well marked with buoy from the Department of Fish & Game. Ruby E is a Coast Guard Cutter Cyane who is enjoying her retirement after duty in World War 11. She was sunk in 1989. The area is known for heavy swells, and visibility can vary considerably due to the silt on the bottom.

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