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Scuba Diving Catalina Island

Last year on this blog, I said I would be diving in Catalina in March of 2010, but I was unable to dive that trip due to a knee injury.  This year, my girlfriend and I decided to take a short cruise for my birthday to Catalina and Ensenada aboard the Carnival Paradise, so  I had another opportunity on the horizon to dive Catalina.

I had not been diving since August 2009, so I took a scuba review course at my local dive shop.  It gave me a chance to review my skills and make sure my gear was in good working condition.  I took the course just two days before the start of our cruise.  Reviewing the weather reports, it appeared the weather was going to be a little unsettled.   I decided I would only bring my mask, regulator, and dive computer, and rent the rest of the gear.  If there was a possibility I would not dive, I didn’t want to lug all of the gear for nothing. 

When we boarded the ship, I went directly to the shore excursions desk to sign up for the dive.    They only had four spots available and I was surprised to see that it was already booked full.  I asked to be put on the waiting list, as I walked away disappointed.  I tried calling the dive company on Catalina but it was too late in the day.   My hopes for diving were fading fast.  When I woke up in the morning, I looked outside, and it looked cold and grey.  I thought maybe not diving was going to be okay and that I wouldn’t have to deal with the cold.  I noticed an envelope had been slipped under the door in the middle of the night.  Inside the envelope was a ticket for the diving excursion; surprise, I was diving after all. 

I met the other three divers at the Catalina Divers Supply counter on the green pier where the tenders from the Carnival Paradise dropped off cruisers after the five minute trip from the ship.  After signing our waivers, we made the ten minute walk to the aquatic port behind the famous casino building in Avalon Bay.

We all suited up in 7 millimeter wetsuits to protect us from the cold water.  The water temp was 56 degrees at the surface.   Entry into the park is made easy with concrete stairs allowing us to walk into the water without much problem.  Once in the water, we descended to about 40 feet.  For the next 45 minutes we were treated to some of the most impressive kelp forest I have ever been in.  Lots of Garibaldi, which are an orange colored fish found only off the coast of California.   We explored the park descending to a maximum of 60 ft where the water temp was a balmy 52 degrees.    I observed lots of sea anemones, sea stars, sea urchins, and lots of other mollusks . 

As we emerged from the water, the sun had come out, and we were treated to some warmth as we removed our wetsuits and gear.    We all spent some time sharing our experience in the park.   I headed back to town and had lunch with my girlfriend at Luau Larry’s.

The water temps raise to around 70 degrees  in the summer.   All in all, one of the best shore dives I’ve done on the West coast. 

About the author:  David Patch is not only a valuable contributor to our blog, but also a friend and valued guest, who travels frequently to resorts and on cruises with special interest in scuba diving.  Last year he shared “Scuba Diving Tips” on our blog. 

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