Many divers from San Diego can come across as annoying when diving in other locations. The constant comparison of their home diving spots to where they are abroad could easily bother the locals. But with the wonders and variety offered in San Diego, they have good reason to brag.
EXPLORING WRECK ALLEY
San Diego is a wreck enthusiast’s dream. A collection of purpose-sunk ships forms world-famous Wreck Alley that is headlined by the HCMS Yukon. This 366-foot Canadian destroyer actually sunk the night before its intended reefing in 2000 due to rough seas. It now lies between 70 and 105 feet of water on its port side, which can be a bit disorienting. Its bridge, crow’s nest, davits and smokestack are coated with bright corynactis, plumose anemones, clusters of imposing giant metridiums and schools of blacksmith surrounding it, making it a site with amazing photo opportunities for all underwater photographers.
The wreck system also includes the Ruby E. This 165-foot Coast Guard cutter-turned drug smuggling vessel was sunk in 1989 and lies between 60 to 85 feet deep. Due to its shallower depth it’s much easier to fully examine in a single dive. Although divers often become overly fascinated with the brightly colored greenlings, rockfish, and California scorpion fish on its decks, it’s rather effortless to safely inspect its wide-open bridge and wheelhouse.
More than often, kelp forest is the most commonly thought of type of diving site when California diving is mentioned. San Diego, in particular is home to many lush options.
La Jolla Cove is accessible by shore entry, but requires a bit of diligence. Swimmers, snorkelers and tourists tend to crowd the area, so parking can be an issue. However, if you have a bit of patience to make it pass the crowds and deal with parking, it can pay off in a big way. Divers can immerse themselves in a shallow kelp forest within minutes of entering the water at a depth of just 35 plus feet. And although the visibility may not be the best, La Jolla Cove offers you a great chance of getting up close and personal with nesting garibaldi, sea lions, harbor seals and even seven gill sharks.
Another nearby site is Point Loma kelp beds. To get to this different type of majestic kelp wonder, it takes a day boat ride. The beds lie between 45 and 120 feet of cold, nutrient-rich water and supports an incredible variety of life. Sponges, bryozoans and gorgonians cover the rocky reefs. Within the crannies and crevices, one can find moray eels, lingcod and cabezon. Point Loma’s phenomenal invertebrate density has also delighted many fanatics of the nudibranch. It isn’t unusual to see 20 different species of nudis during a single dive.
San Clemente Island offers divers better visibility and warmer water. Those who peruse this southernmost of the California Channel Islands to dive are greeted by purple hydrocoral and fiery-red gorgonians dot reefs. Torpedo rays and soup-fin sharks are extremely common to be spotted in the deeper areas, but with many popular sites between 40 and 100-plus feet, you’re sure to find a place fitting for to fulfill your diving dream.