What makes San Diego scuba diving and snorkeling so unique is the kelp. Kelp can grow as much as 30 inches per day and forms an undersea forest with an overhead canopy. Just like a terrestrial forest, the kelp is a teeming three-dimensional realm, extending from the sea floor to the surface, and to dive the kelp is to soar weightlessly through that undersea forest. Garibaldi fish, colorful nudibranchs, bat rays, sea lions and numerous indigenous species all make the kelp forest their home.
San Diego has a central role in the relatively short history of diving, with many key dive equipment manufacturers, underwater photographers and filmmaking pioneers based here in town. So it's no surprise that you'll find world class dive shops and dive instructors, ready to help you gear up and get down in the water. In fact, you can start in a classroom on a Friday evening and be diving in the ocean by Sunday morning. Experienced divers can rent gear, fill tanks and book dive boat charters to San Diego's local dive sites and far-flung offshore islands.
Geographically speaking, the more rugged and rocky the coastline, the better the diving, so the most popular dive sites are centered around La Jolla and Point Loma. La Jolla Cove is perhaps the best place for shore diving with an easy entry point, a short swim to the kelp, and abundant marine life, due to the longstanding protection of the underwater ecological park. A must for adventurous divers is San Diego's Wreck Alley and its star attraction, the Yukon, a decommissioned 366-foot Canadian Destroyer intentionally sunk to form an artificial reef and recreational dive site. Charter dive boats based out of Mission Bay offer half-day trips to the Yukon and other local wrecks. To experience the very best of Southern California diving, consider a dive adventure to the islands, where the water is clear and blue and the wildlife always seems larger than life.
Summer and fall months are the most reliable for diving in San Diego, but select days in the winter and spring can often be the best. The water temperature varies drastically - from the high fifties to the mid-seventies. A 7mm full wetsuit with hood, booties and gloves are standard fare for scuba divers, with a 3mm suit recommended for even casual summertime snorkelers. Similarly, the conditions can range from flat calm to dangerously rough, and the visibility from 100 feet to practically nothing. The local dive shops and lifeguards can provide dive reports and direct you to the best sites based on the current conditions.
Browse the articles below to find out more about scuba diving in San Diego and to find scuba diving charter companies.
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