Scuba around north San Diego, CA?

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SlugMug

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In about a month, I will be in San Diego for about a week in the Solana Beach area. It's not a "diving-trip," but I could potentially go diving a couple days. Are there any "must see" dive-sites in the area? Or just places that are really good diving in general? I'm trying to figure out if there's "must see" stuff in the area, or if it's just more average, so I can determine whether or not to bring my equipment ... as well as possibly plan a few dive-outings.

I do a lot of solo-diving (and prefer solo), so wouldn't need a touristy dive-master to lead me around, though obviously some sites may or may not be shore-accessible.

Obviously, I see there are dive-shops & dive-boats, and stuff marketed towards tourists, but prefer to get a good sense from locals about what's actually good versus just overhyped.
 

JMJ Wetsuits

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La Jolla Cove and that area has some great diving when conditions are good. I'm sure you'll find a lot about it in a web search. Solana Beach and that whole North County area is best known for the surfing, but the diving can be OK - like 10' viz when the swell is down. Mostly sand and mixed rocky reef + kelp. There can be sizeable surf so take care out there if you decide to go.

Personally I would head to Catalina if you can swing it, otherwise La Jolla Cove is about 15 minutes to the south. La Jolla Shores is also popular given the submarine canyon, but be ready for sand habitat not reef. The Yukon, Wreck Alley and Point Loma kelp beds are also popular.

Hope that helps,
Derek
 

Ulfhedinn

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Ulfhedinn

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I agree with Derek that Yukon, Wreck Alley, and Point Loma kelp beds are great too along with Catalina.
 

Akimbo

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With limited time and if you have the budget, I suggest boat diving — especially if you will have to rent tanks and lead anyway. La Jolla Cove is an easy dive but can get really crowded, on the beach and parking. Boats run to Wreck Alley, the Coronado Islands in Mexico, and the Point Loma kelp beds.

Non-Diving Stuff:
I lived in Solana Beach for most of my adult life. We were also there in 2019 for 2 months. Check out Fidel's Little Mexico, our favorite Mexican restaurant. Watch the schedules of the Del Mar Fair and racing season because they can really jam up traffic and restaurants. You might be interested in visiting the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It's not as big as the Monterey Aquarium but is still interesting. Scripps has been at the center of a lot of diving and oceanographic history. Sea Lab II was off the Scripps Pier, just down the hill from the Aquarium.

A cruise of San Diego Bay may also be interesting, especially on a warm day. The Maritime Museum of San Diego is next to the bay cruise boats and exhibits include two submarines and the Star of India.



The USS Midway is about a mile from the Maritime Museum if you have never been on an aircraft carrier. If I had to choose, I would go to the zoo over Sea World. Have fun.
 

scubadada

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SlugMug

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Hi all, this is a lot of information to dig through, and I appreciate all of the responses. It looks like definitely yes bring my scuba-equipment, and I'll have about a month to plan exactly which dives to do. I'll probably have some specific questions as I dig through the information in more detail.

I am AOW certified, so I could do the deeper dives if they're worth it, but don't particular seek out deep dives. I often dive side-mount (and solo), although I usually do the equivalent of a 1-tank dive using 1/2 of each, or dive with 80 and 19cu as redundant.

In terms of a boat charter .... I'll consider doing one. It would probably have to be a "absolutely must see" location. It's not necessarily the cost (though I do consider that), and more the schedule and being able to do my own thing. I could probably do either 3x days of shore-dives, or 1x all-day boat-charter, and 1x day shore-dives, because the trip is about 50% about spending time with family.
  • Wreck Alley - To be honest, I'm rarely interested in wrecks. It would have to be a "top 5%wreck" - something super interesting to get me interested. Is there anything there worth "you have to see this wreck?"
  • Kelp Forest - It looks like La Jolla Cove kelp forest is shore accessible. Are the ones the charter-boats go to (Point Loma Kelp) significantly better in terms of wildlife?
  • Coronado Islands - Is there anything special about this spot in terms of wildlife or visibility?
 

scubadada

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Hi all, this is a lot of information to dig through, and I appreciate all of the responses. It looks like definitely yes bring my scuba-equipment, and I'll have about a month to plan exactly which dives to do. I'll probably have some specific questions as I dig through the information in more detail.

I am AOW certified, so I could do the deeper dives if they're worth it, but don't particular seek out deep dives. I often dive side-mount (and solo), although I usually do the equivalent of a 1-tank dive using 1/2 of each, or dive with 80 and 19cu as redundant.

In terms of a boat charter .... I'll consider doing one. It would probably have to be a "absolutely must see" location. It's not necessarily the cost (though I do consider that), and more the schedule and being able to do my own thing. I could probably do either 3x days of shore-dives, or 1x all-day boat-charter, and 1x day shore-dives, because the trip is about 50% about spending time with family.
  • Wreck Alley - To be honest, I'm rarely interested in wrecks. It would have to be a "top 5%wreck" - something super interesting to get me interested. Is there anything there worth "you have to see this wreck?"
  • Kelp Forest - It looks like La Jolla Cove kelp forest is shore accessible. Are the ones the charter-boats go to (Point Loma Kelp) significantly better in terms of wildlife?
  • Coronado Islands - Is there anything special about this spot in terms of wildlife or visibility?
Hi @SlugMug

Appears you have done little research of you own or you would know the answers to your questions. Of course, appears you have a modest number of dives. The Yukon is a very good deeper wreck, the Ruby E a nice dive at a more moderate depth. If you don't like wrecks, skip it. Yes, the kelp forests other than La Jolla cove can be quite nice. I'm sure you are aware that the bottom temps will be low to mid 50s. The water in the Coronados is warmer, there is a chance to dive with sea lions and Harbor seals.

I wish you a good trip
 

SlugMug

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Yes, I was a little rushed into this. I wasn't expecting to be in SanDiego until a couple days ago & have been super-busy with work. I needed to decide quickly, in order to secure plane tickets, and determine what to bring with me. So, I've done some research, but not an extensive amount.

The thing you don't get with research, is a sense of quality. What is marketing and overhyped, or astroturfed reviews, versus the experience of someone "normal?" The local scuba-charters act like they have amazing dive-sites, have great reviews, and spam every local forum/board/chat. but having dived those sites from my friend's boat, they're poor visibility with little to see. The only thing the dive-charter really offers is access to areas with party-boats, where people sometimes drop sunglasses. That's why I'm trying to have some human-to-human interaction.
 

happy-diver

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Yes engagement is what it's all about
 
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