The Channel Islands along the Santa Barbara Channel consist of eight islands not far from Los Angeles. The archipelago extends 160 miles north to south along the southern California coastline. Five of the islands make up Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. To get to the islands fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or the much smaller, open air Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. Most divers fly into LAX, rent a car and head south to the seaside towns of either Ventura or Santa Barbara where you can ferry across to the islands or hire a private boat. There is a small airport on the largest island of Santa Cruz appropriately named the Santa Cruz Island Airport. The airport offers some commercial flights and services small private aircraft. The park is popular and closely protected requiring planning and reservations.
A dive shop that offers 1-day boat excursions as well as custom live aboard diving around the Channel Islands is Truth Aquatics. From April to September the company offers day trips to the popular Painted Cave area off Santa Cruz island. The cave and the surrounding waters are ideal for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. Painted Cave is a large partially submerged cave that is fun and save to explore. Truth Aquatics also offers 2-3 day excursions to the islands with food and drinks provided.
Channel Island Scuba is the oldest Scuba facility in Ventura County. The small dive shop is based out of Thousand Oaks, a slightly inland town between LA and Santa Barbara. The shop specializes in small, personalized scuba classes for all levels of certification. Channel Island Scuba is also a great retail source for state of the art scuba gear and underwater photography equipment.
Eco Dive Center is a large dive shop out of Los Angeles that frequents most of the Channel Islands as well as dive sites throughout southern California. The experienced, home based outfitter Channel Islands Dive Adventures (CIDA) is a example of a dive company concerned specifically with the Channel Islands. CIDA is unique because it is not a retail “dive shop” but more a scuba association focusing on excursions to the Channel Islands to explore not only the dive sites but also the islands history, science and preservation.
Farther south in San Diego, the one boat dive shop Waterhorse Charters accesses Wreck Alley, the artificial reef just one mile offshore from Mission Bay. Waterhorse Charters also frequents Los Coronados Islands, small islands to the south of the city in Mexican territory. Another company out of San Diego, Lois Ann Dive Charters caters to divers interested in the many ship wrecks along Wreck Alley and the Point Loma Kelp Beds nearby. Flying into San Diego International Airport is the best way to get to the dive sites off the far southern shores of California.
Great local shop. dean is super helpful and certified my 14 year old in the sound. he is patient and knowledgeable. the shop is fully stocked and really cute. I've been diving for 25 years and I wanted my daughter in good hands and she was.