arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

Kelp Forest Diving in San Diego

Explore these vast underwater ecosystems

By: Todd Lynch

By: Todd Lynch

San Diego's kelp forest is a thriving underwater ecosystem, supporting hundreds of species, and providing a unique undersea experience for divers. Kelp (an algae, not a plant) typically grows at depths of 30 to 80 feet, with narrow stalks rising vertically toward the surface by means of air filled bulbs at the base of their leaves. At the surface, these floating treetops form an overhead canopy. Rays of sunlight filter down through the leaves, illuminating the complex interactions of life.

What You Might See While Kelp Forest Diving

Near the surface, schools of baitfish move in cyclonic patterns, stalked by barracuda and yellowtail tuna. In the rocky reef below, sea stars and sea urchins scour the bottom, as lobsters, morey eels and octopus hide in cracks and caves, waiting for night to feed. Pastel-hued sea fans sway in the surge and gregarious Garibaldi fish guard their nests. Lucky divers are often visited by curious sea lions, soaring and spinning through the kelp stalks, or encounter bat rays resting in the sand.

Best Places to Go Kelp Forest Diving in San Diego

The best way to dive the kelp may be from one of the specialized charter dive boats that offer trips to the kelp beds off Point Loma and La Jolla, but the easiest is a shore dive starting and finishing at La Jolla Cove. The Cove is part of a long-standing ecological reserve and, as a result, the marine life is especially healthy and exceptionally trusting. With its north-facing orientation, the Cove is reliably calm and clear during the prime summer diving season. A swim of 100 yards or so will take divers to the inner fringe of the kelp forest, where it's not uncommon to encounter large sea bass, or the prehistoric-looking seven gill shark. Snorkelers will enjoy exploring the grassy shallows within the Cove itself or, on a calm day, the sea caves and sea lion colony just around the corner.

Other fine shore dives, conditions permitting, can be found along the reefs extending south of La Jolla Cove to Bird Rock, or on the wall of the submarine canyon that begins just off the south end of La Jolla Shores Beach. Spearfishing enthusiasts and lobster hunters should check with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine locations, seasons, size and catch limits for the different game they plan to hunt. Fishing, diving and specialty spearfishing shops can help get you outfitted and on the right track.

Further Afield

To experience the kelp forest and California diving at its best, consider an all-day boat trip to the nearby Coronado Islands, or a live-aboard adventure to the Southern Channel Islands, where the water visibility can exceed 100 feet and the animal life always seems to be wilder and woolier. Or, for the adventure of a lifetime, take a five-day expedition to Baja's Guadalupe Island, where you can cage dive with great white sharks (no scuba certification required)!

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you

Caterers

The Cravory: 15% off cookie dessert bar!

Cravory Cookies
Valid: Jun 13, 2018 - ongoing

Cravory Cookies can fully cater any wedding or event with Cookies, Coffee or Milk (regular or flavor cookie milks!). We have the perfect, customized option for you - please reach out to...

Activity

Discount San Diego Attractions Tickets Available at Western Inn San Diego

Old Town Western Inn
Valid: May 24 - ongoing

Pick up discounted ticket to The San Diego Zoo and USS Midway from the Western Inn Old Town.

Corporate & HQ

10% off Holiday Corporate Gifts

Cravory Cookies
Valid: Jun 13, 2018 - ongoing

The Cravory Cookie Box is the perfect Client Gift! Ship directly to your client OR delivery/pick up to hand deliver to your clients   Co-branding opportunities available ...

Events to check out

Event

San Diego International Auto Show

Dec 27 - Dec 30, 2018

Where the cars are the stars! The San Diego International Auto Show features the widest variety of new vehicles under one roof.

Event

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Dec 31, 2018

Don't miss America's Finest Bowl Experience! This signature San Diego event annually showcases a thrilling game between some of college football’s most competitive conferences, the Big Ten and...

Event

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Dec 9 - Dec 16, 2018

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated sailing by the shores for all to see.

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China FlagChinaGermany FlagGermanyGreat Britain FlagGreat BritainJapan FlagJapanMexico FlagMexicoKorea FlagKoreaSwitzerland FlagSwitzerlandBrazil FlagBrazilFrance FlagFranceAustralia FlagAustraliaCanada FlagCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish