Scuba Diving Trips in California

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The islands off California have so much to offer scuba divers. The water is consistently clear, the seas are usually calm plus a wide variety of marine life awaits for divers to explore. California offers fantastic diving with a very high concentration of marine life, such as sea lions, garibaldi fish, lobsters and more.

California diving is a diverse and exciting experience with an extensive coastline and various marine ecosystems. Divers can explore a variety of marine ecosystems including kelp forests, sea caves and reefs. Some of the most popular dive sites include the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay and the kelp forests off the coast of La Jolla.

California also has several shipwrecks that can be explored, such as the USS Hogan and the SS Palo Alto. Overall, California diving offers a unique and rewarding experience for divers of all levels.

What To Expect

Scuba Diving

Diving in California can be defined by two words: Kelp. Forest. Kelp forests are home to a variety of species and the kelp itself can grow up to 2 feet per day. The kelp creates an underwater rainforest with a large canopy where sunbeams shine through. The ocean here is home to cool, nutrient-rich water and an abundance of marine life. California has great diving for everyone with large kelp forests and marine life everywhere you look.

Keep your eye out for:

  • Sea otters
  • Garibaldi
  • Horn sharks
  • Sea lions
  • Bat rays
  • Giant pacific octopus
  • Nudibranch
  • Dolphins
  • Whales

Recommended Specialty Courses

  • Boat diving
  • Dry suit diving
  • Spearfishing
  • Photo & video

Bottom Scratcher Liveaboard

Aboard the Bottom Scratcher, divers can enjoy hot meals, sleeping accommodations, quick air fills and a roomy galley. The vessel is 63 feet long. The port is conveniently located at 22nd Landing in San Pedro.




Santa Barbara Island

The diving off Santa Barbara Island is famous for the abundance of seals and sea lions, extensive kelp forests, underwater arches, pinnacles and rocky reefs. Marine life includes bat rays, lobster, large schools of fish, gorgonians and lots of invertebrates! Famed dive sites include the Rookery, Webster Point Sutil Island, Shag Rock, Black Caverns and the purple hydro coral of Arch Reef.



Santa Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island is a favorite destination for many divers. It’s just over two hours from Los Angeles Harbor and serves as a diving destination. With great kelp beds, a variety of life, pinnacles and walls, it offers something for all divers. The visibility is usually 50 to 100 feet, making photography and sightseeing popular activities. Great views of the Purple Hydrocoral can be found at Farnsworth Bank.





California is known for its laid-back attitude, emphasis on individualism and innovation and appreciation for outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking and skiing. California is also home to the entertainment industry and has a strong influence on popular culture, fashion and technology.

Hike Santa Barbara Island

Thrill seekers will be met with over five miles of rugged trails that go around the island. While hiking, you will have a 360° view of the Pacific ocean and have the opportunity to see seals, sea lion and a variety of seabirds. Make sure to bring plenty of water because there are no facilities on the island.


Bison Tour on Catalina Island

Catalina Island is home to a herd of wild bison that were brought to the island for a movie and have stayed on the island since. Visitors can take a tour to see over 100 bison against the backdrop of the ocean. Be on the lookout for Catalina Island foxes too!


Whale and Dolphin Watching

California is home to a variety of dolphin and whale species, making it an ideal place for those who want to experience a whale watching adventure. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is home to an abundance of whales and dolphins. Be on the lookout for grey, blue and humpback whales, and Risso’s or bottlenose dolphins, along with sea lions as well!

What prior travelers say
“All the fun without any of the hassle! We used to book our own private trips but going through Diventures gives us the opportunity to go to try out new places without having to do all the research and planning. And with the added bonus of making awesome new friends along the way!”
– Kathleen K.

Traveler Photos

Know Before You Go

Dive Insurance

Dive insurance is required on all Diventures trips. We recommen purchasing DAN dive insurance.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is not required but is highly recommended for all Diventures trips. We recommend purchasing DAN trip insurance.

Water Temperature

Southern California is considered to have a temperate climate with water temperatures ranging from 55° to 65°F.

Exposure Protection

We recommend at a minimum, a 7mm wetsuit, semi-dry or dry suit depending on your body build, cold tolerance and physiology. Hoods are also recommended.

Air Fills

Standard air fills are included; Nitrox is not refillable on the vessel. You can rent Nitrox cylinders from the store and take them with you on the vessel.

Cylinders / Weights

The boat does not provide cylinders or weights. The vessel can fill either low or high pressure air cylinders. You are welcome to bring your own cylinder (make sure it is in current hydro and VIP or it won’t be refilled). Please bring your own weights.

Clothing / Toiletries

Please bring casual, comfortable clothing. Bring your necessary toiletries and one or two towels (one to dry off ocean water and one for showering).


The boat crew will work hard to help you onboard, cleaning, cooking, refilling cylinders, etc. Tipping is a very personal choice and should reflect the level of service you received. We suggest an average tip of $40 to $60 per person for the weekend, with more being acceptable if you so choose. The tips are collected at the end of the trip and given to the captain to be divided equally among the crew. We ask that your tips be in cash.

Sleeping arrangements

The boat has dormitory-style bunks in the forward and aft sleeping quarters. We have a bunk list and will select your bunk as you make your reservations. Any unused bunks can be used for storing your clothing bags. Each bunk has a privacy curtain, pillows and light blankets. It is highly recommended to bring your own sleeping bag.

Hunting / Spearfishing Hunting

Spearfishing is permitted on board during open-season timeframes. You must be fully aware of what the current hunting regulations are to avoid any citations if we are boarded by the Department of Fish and Game. You must have a valid Fish and Game license with an Ocean Enhancement Stamp and a Lobster Report Card (if taking lobster). You will also need a lobster bag and gauge. During the season, you are allowed to catch up to 7 lobsters per person per day. You can get licenses online if you have a 3-week advance or you can purchase these licenses at Walmart or other sporting goods stores in California.

Need help packing?

We can’t pack for you, but we can share our packing list and travel tips.