BoatDiving.com
California Boat Diving
Useful information and guide
for Southern California boat diving.

General Information:

California scuba diving from the dive boats of Southern California is considered to be one of the best ways to enjoy the variety of scuba diving that Southern California has to offer. The Channel Islands of Southern California are beautiful, with a variety of life, and can offer a dive experience that is memorable and enjoyable. There are a variety of dive trips available, from short day trips to overnight trips, to multiple day dive trips.

Dive Boat Locations:

Dive boats are located in San Diego, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Typically, the San Diego based boats dive San Clemente Island and also the other Southern Channel Islands, depending on the length of the trip. There are also local dive trips off the coast of San Diego. Los Angeles/Long Beach based boats dive Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, Santa Barbara Island, San Nickolas Island, Cortez Bank, Begg Rock, and sometimes the Northern Channel Islands. Ventura and Santa Barbara based boats dive Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel, with some trips destined for the Southern Channel Islands (Catalina, San Clemente, Catalina, and Santa Barbara Island), depending on the length of the trip. There are also a number of dive boats based out of Avalon, on Catalina Island.

Types of Dive Boats:

Since diving at the islands involves an ocean crossing of 20-60 miles or more, most Southern California dive boats are larger sized boats, typically 65-80 feet in length.
There are uninspected boats that aren't permitted to carry more than 6 passenger, and they are not Coast Guard inspected. There are Coast Guard inspected boats that may carry the number of passengers shown on their certificate of inspection, and have all required safety equipment that is mandated by the US Coast Guard. The majority of Southern California Dive Boats are of the Coast Guard inspected type, but there are a number of uninspected (6 pack) dive boats as well. Many of the dive boats are designed for multiple day dive trips, and have sleeping accommodations, full galleys, and refills on board of air cylinders. Some have Nitrox available, some have camera rentals.

Boat Procedures:

Procedures will vary from boat to boat. In general, you need your own equipment. Some boats supply air cylinders and weights, some do not. Most diving is done 'self guided'. The dive supervisor is on the boat, you do not dive with a divemaster. Briefings explain the terrain and conditions, you and your partner dive based on your abilities. Entry is made using the 'giant stride'. It is important when surfacing to give the boat the 'OK' sign, since the dive supervisor is watching many divers. If a problem exists, wave for help. Work in and out of your gearbag, and always be sure your cylinder is secured. Some boats sell food and beverages, some have food and beverages included in the price of the trip. Some include airfills, others charge for airfills. It is customary to tip the crew at the end of a trip, when settling your galley bill. Should you become sea sick, it is best to be sick over the side of the boat, not in the head (restroom), or galley area!

Types of trips:

Single day trips normally leave in the morning at about 7AM and return at about 5PM. There is enough time to make 3, or sometimes 4 dives. These trips will generally go to the closest island, about a 2 or 2 1/2 hour boat ride each way. 

Overnight trips will leave early in the AM (12:30 to 1:00 AM is typical) and arrive at the island about 6-7AM. After 3 or 4 dives, the boat departs at about 12:30 to 1:00 PM for the 5 or 6 hour ride back to the dock. These trips will go to a further out island.

Multiple day trips will depart at night, generally go to further out islands for the first days of the trip, and work their way back. On multiple day trips, you dive well past the time that day trips head home, and normally do night diving, as well. 6-8 dives per day is normal, and some divers will do even more. Many divers prefer multiple day trips because they are not rushed to get their diving in so the boat can head back to port. Also, the night diving that is done on multiple day trips is very popular. Often on this type of trip, several different islands are visited, with travel at night between islands.

check out the Links to Southern California Liveaboard Boats click here !

How to choose a boat:

What is important to you, may not be important to someone else. With a number of different boats to choose from, asking questions is the best way to make a decision. Reputation is always important, and you certainly want the best time for your money, and an experienced captain and crew seem like a good starting point. The question table below can be used to get the answers to the questions that you find important.

 

Question:

Boat 'A'

Boat 'B'

Boat 'C'

Are the air
cylinders
and weights
provided ?

Nearby rental
location ?

Cost to rent ?
-
-
-
Food and Air
inluded in
trip price ??

How many
meals ??
-
-
-
Is breathing
air tested
and results
available ?
-
-
-
Is Nitrox
available ??

On-board
refills ??

Oxygen clean ?
-
-
-
Number of
dives done
in a day ??
-
-
-
Rescue boat
for tired
divers ??
-
-
-
Number
of years
the Captain
is licensed ??
-
-
-

Ask questions, be informed, and choose wisely ! California scuba diving is fantastic, and you will enjoy it best on a dive boat that meets your needs.





 

Question:

Boat 'A'

Boat 'B'

Boat 'C'

Is the
Captain
a Diver ??
-
-
-
Camera
Rentals ??
-
-
-
Sleeping
Accomodations ?
-
-
-
Destination
of Trip ??
Number of
trips run to
the destination ?
-
-
-
References
available ??
-
-
-
Number of
Captains ??
-
-
-
Number of
Multi-Day
trips run ??
-
-
-
Scheduled trip ?
or
"Open Boat"
number of
Divers needed
to run trip ?
-
-
-

Enjoy your California diving experience !!

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