Doug from Cucamonga's Dive Log
La Jolla Cove on 9/25/2010
Overall a great dive site; I would say it's in the top 5 SoCal dive spots (arguably THE BEST snorkeling spot). Very easy shore access, lots of rocks/kelp/fish, sea lion encounters not uncommon (same for black Sea Bass). Visibility typically ranges from decent to excellent (10-40ft; 10-15ft being the norm). Also, there's a bathroom and showers. Downsides to this site are that there isn't an air fill station you can walk to (closest one is a few miles away). If you decide to get an air fill, good luck trying to find a parking spot when you get back! Parking is limited and difficult to get...you may end up parking quite a ways away, or paying $10-$20 to park in a parking structure (oh, and no leaving and coming back for free!) Conditions do vary, however, so you will be well-advised to check conditions in advance...sometimes it's great, sometimes it's crap, sometimes it's dangerous, sometimes it's closed! Overall, though, this a great dive site and a definite 'must-dive' for SoCal divers.
Heisler Park on 9/25/2010
A great dive spot! There's lots to see (both in terms of plant life and animal life) all in fairly shallow water (average depth is around 20ft, although it will get down to around 50ft if you go to the Southside of the kelp forest). It's one of the few Laguna spots where you can just keep going...meaning once you head out a hundred yards or so from shore, drop down and head out east and you can go for a really long way before you run out of stuff to see. Couple of downsides to this spot though...tends to have bigger surf than other Laguna spots, and the walk down to the beach sucks (sucks even more walking back up). When conditions are good, this is a great site.
Malaga Cove on 9/25/2010
An interesting dive site. When conditions are good this can be a very enjoyable shallow dive. There's lots of Kelp and other plant life, lots of marine life (including Leopard Sharks and Horn Sharks) and a fairly good-sized reef structure. However, the drive there is weird (traveling through lots of winding roads in Palos Verdes). Plus the walk down to the beach is a nightmare in full gear (I just cart my gear down to the beach and suit up on shore). AND conditions are very hit or miss. Sometimes visibility is 20ft with virtually no surf and surge. A couple of days later the site may be undivable. Definitely worth checking out, but if your looking for a 'sure' dive, or a true beginner dive, you'd be better off heading to Laguna or San Diego.
La Jolla Shores on 3/6/2011
Pretty crappy site if you ask me. This is one of the most popular dive sites in Socal, and with some good reason. Good parking, typically light surf, light surge, good viz, ability to go REALLY deep, and nice facilities. BUT IT'S UGLY! There's really not much to see...lackluster rock formations, not many fish, very little plant life, and muddy/silty bottom. I had heard so much about this site I was honestly surprised by how unpretty it was here. Some people love this site so you may like it, but if you're looking for beautiful scenery, lots of fish, lots of plant life etc., check out La Jolla Cove or head up north to the Laguna area.
Divers Cove on 3/6/2011
Been here many times and it is a nice little site. Easy shore entry, typically light surge/surf, good viz, good amount of fish, depth and plants. Depth avg's about 10-20ft but will get down to about 40ft if you head fairly far south during high tide. This is one of the best socal spots for snorkeling; I personally like it better than La Jolla Cove. For diving, this site is pretty good, but there are better sites in Laguna. However, if you are willing to do a moderate surface swim, there is an area a couple hundred yards out (you can see the kelp to the south and slightly east if you are in the parking area), that is really nice has lots of kelp/fish/gorgonians etc. and because it's a decent way out, it's in fairly pristine condition. Also Diver's Cove is the site I most frequently see Bat Rays at.
South Crescent Bay on 3/6/2011
Been here numerous times, and this is one of my favorite Laguna sites. This site is good for snorkeling/freediving but is better appreciated on SCUBA. Entry is fairly easy, just enter to the West by the second-to-last staircase and head out straight (south). You can submerge as soon as you get near the rocks on the west and there will be rocks/plants/fish to see. If you swim past the rocks on the west and then head out SW, there is lots to see. At first there will just be a bunch of rocks and urchins but keep heading south and when you get to about 25-30ft there are huge boulders with lots of growth, kelp, lots of fish, starfish etc. Also if you head out towards seal rock you will likely encounter sea lions who will be as interested in you as you are in them. If you're feeling really adventurous you can head out to Deadman's Reef (look up maps online). DMR is a huge rock formation in about 50ft with lots of fish...definitely a great spot but make sure you're up for the lengthy surface swim and return swim...it's pretty draining. Dive this site a few times to really see all that it has to offer; overall this is an excellent spot.
Shaws Cove on 3/7/2011
Doug from Cucamonga
Mar 7, 2011, 12:00 AM
Not my favorite Laguna spot. This is probably the most popular spot in Laguna...seems like no matter what time of year I drive past Shaw's there's either divers walking back to their cars or divers suiting-up to go dive. Parking is free and there is a good amount of it, beach access is easy (although there are a lot of stairs), vis is typically in the 10-20ft range and you don't have to swim very far at all before you enter the diving area. However, the diving here is pretty shallow, I feel a little claustrophobic in the crevices, and there isn't the abundance of plant/animal life that there is at other sites such as Heisler Park. Definitely worth diving, but of the many sites in Laguna I go to, this is the one I go to the least. However, I will say that this is arguably the best snorkeling/freediving spot in Laguna.
Robert Badham on 3/14/2011
Doug from Cucamonga
Mar 14, 2011, 12:00 AM
Pretty cool site. Like others have said, very nice shore scenery, and there are drinking fountains, bathrooms and showers. Access is relatively easy, although I would recommend carting your gear down to shore and suiting up there as it is a long walk (and fairly steep) from the parking area to the beach. I headed to the left (east). Conditions were surgy with poor vis near entry, but once I got a decent way out into the kelp bed, vis was in the 10-15ft range. There are lots of big rocks covered in growth and an excellent amount of sea life. I saw a HUGE crab, plus many urchins, garibaldi, calico bass, sheephead, starfish etc. (i.e. your typical socal fish). It appeared there would be a lot to see heading out west as well, and there was a kelp bed a couple hundred yards out SW that I would like to investigate also. Overall a nice site that I will check out again to see what else it has to offer.
LA - Casino Point on 3/16/2011
Doug from Cucamonga
Mar 16, 2011, 12:00 AM
This is as good as shorediving gets in California. It almost doesn't seem fair to consider Casino Point a shore dive since it's so easy to get in the water...but alas you are entering from the shore, so technically it is a shoredive. So: entry is easy, rarely is there surf, rarely is there surge, the kelp is big and healthy, there's lots of sealife and vis averages from 30-50ft and at times can be 100ft. Not to mention there is an airfill station on-site. Few downsides to this spot though. It's pretty busy on weekends, and on weekends in the summer it's PACKED! Seriously, sometimes there's a line of divers waiting to get in the water. Also, sometimes vis is excellent, but gets screwed up by OW classes silting up the water like nobody's business. Also, since there's so many divers, Casino Point isn't exactly in pristine condition (although it's definitely not destroyed or anything like that). And there can be some fairly strong currents there as well. Lastly, although there is a good amount of sea life, I actually find that I see more fish and a wider variety of fish at Heisler Park in Laguna…so this is not the Socal fish mecca you might think it is. Drawbacks aside, this is still my favorite Socal Shoredive as it offers depth, great vis, tall/healthy kelp, easy access, an on site air fill station and a good amount of sealife. You can do boat dives that will give you a better/more beautiful dive-experience, but as far as shorediving goes, Casino Point is the best diving in Socal.