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US Channel Islands - Remarkable Scuba Diving Experience

Being one of the top US scuba diving destinations, Channel Islands National Park should not be missed by any diver. These Californian nutrient-rich waters located in the Pacific Ocean sit just off the coast of Santa Barbara, north of Los Angeles. Diving Channel Islands undersea world, comprising the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary, is a really unique and tremendous experience.With thousands of diverse species of plants and animals living under the Channel Islands waters is not to be missed. Dive in with to find out what this area has to offer.
US Channel Islands - Remarkable Scuba Diving Experience

As already its name suggests, Channel Islands are surrounded by many islands full of unique species of plants and animals, kelp forests, colorful reefs, sea lions, garibaldi, rockfish, whales, dolphins ... you name it. With several islands comes also many diving spots and it is sometimes hard to choose the best ones. Thanks to Ken Kollwitz of Channel Islands Dive Adventures, a friendly diving specialists who has dove the Channel Islands for over 20 years. 

Ken Kollwitz

You would hardly find a more experienced guide for the area. Ken is an insured NAUI Divemaster and a brand new NAUI Scuba Instructor. He is certified in limited wreck penetration (TDI); advanced nitrox/decompression procedures (IANTD), open water buddy for disabled divers (HSA) and he is a DAN diving emergency specialist provider.

Ken Kollwitz

The Peace - 
one of the best boats in SoCal for dive trips

The crew

inside the boat

Ken has been also a member of the Channel Islands Divers dive club for many years where he has served as past President and Dive Coordinator. He also has been a member of and helped out with various other local dive clubs and organizations such as the Channel Islands Underwater Photographic Society and the Channel Islands Council of Divers. No wonder he knows the area like no other and what's even better, he kindly provided us with a few diving tips! Here you go:

North - Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island is (with its 60,6 acres) the largest island of the park. The marine life surrounding Santa Cruz is a whole other world. The area offers a bit milder diving conditions and with its many dive sites it offers endless diving opportunities. From sandy bays known for excellent halibut hunting to vast rocky reefs covered with kelp to mini walls covered with life, you can always find a fantastic dive spot there. Rather unknown to many, this island is also home to a very extensive system of underwater caves and caverns.

The Channel Islands park consists of 249,354 acres (100,910 ha), half of which are under the ocean, and includes 5 main islands - Santa Cruz ,San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Anacapa and Santa Barbara. Southerly islands of Santa Catalina, San Clemente and San Nicolas are not part of it.

South - San Clemente Island

There is so much to see and do underwater at San Clemente Island that even after diving several days there you will still have lots more to see. When the weather conditions are good and you can dive the south windward side of San Clemente Island, the diving becomes limitless. Because of the good water clarity and abundant marine life, San Clemente is perfect for photographers and it is equally as good for the hunter or sightseer.

Wrecks of Honda Point and the “Devils Jaw”

Honda Point  is a treacherous area (jagged rock pinnacles and reefs) just a little North of Point Arguello, off of Vandenberg Air Force base, also known as the “Devil’s Jaw”. Underwater, Honda is a wreck diver’s dream. Wreckage is literally everywhere and what's more, the wrecks here are some of the least dived in California. The access to the area used to reguire a permission from Vandenberg Air Force base but is now off limits.


The SM-1 was an oil drilling barge originally used as a U.S. Navy Landing Ship near the end of WWII that sank in 75’ of water during a big squall in 1962. She was then salvaged and is now a great dive site. Laying upside down about 2-3 miles offshore between Gavotia and Coho Anchorage, the SM-1 is an advanced dive and can be penetrated, but only by divers with proper training. The SM-1 can be great for pictures and just plain sightseeing with visibility being 10’-50’ and an average of 20’ ft.

Sounds good doesn't it? However, if you'd rather do a bit of coastal offshore reef diving, look no further - diving the coast is one of the things Channel Islands Dive Adventures likes the most. With six years of operation, Ken expanded and scheduled the local trips from 22 for this year to 36 for 2015. recommends services of Channel Islands Dive Adventures as highly professional. And with future trips planned already for the next 2 years, CIDA should not get off your radar when considering to dive US Channel Islands.

Photos: © CIDA, copyrights applied. Thanks to Ken.

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