Tips on diving Catalina in December

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Skirnir314

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Hey All,

I'll be in LA for a week in December and would like to do 1-2 days diving on Catalina with my girlfriend (I'm AOW, ~200 dives, she's OW ~70). I've done the Casino Point Dive Park before and really enjoyed it.

How would you spend 2 days diving on Catalina?

Would it be feasible to dive Two Harbors? Any particular sites of particular interest? Events of interest around then? Dive shops you'd recommend?

I've read Farnsworth Banks is good and that there are a few wrecks. But, it seems like most shops on the island mostly cater to shore diving Casino Point.

Thanks!

- Mike
 

Esprise Me

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What are your dates? That will inform what's available.
 

Skirnir314

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Dates are flexible, but some time during the 2nd week, so maybe ~ December 5 to 12.

- Mike
 

Esprise Me

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I'm not seeing any Farnsworth or Midnight Hour trips during that time frame. Not everything has been scheduled yet, so it's possible some trips will be added. If you're looking for boat dives around Catalina, Eco Dive Center runs charters pretty much every weekend, and they have Catalina trips going out of San Pedro/ Long Beach on 12/5, 12/11, and 12/12: Southern California's Boat Diving Schedule - Online Reservations

If you're open to driving up to Ventura and visiting the other islands, the Raptor and the Spectre go to Anacapa/Santa Cruz every weekend:

During the week, the dive park is probably your best bet. I haven't done any shore dives in Two Harbors yet, but I believe there's a dive shop up there that could probably help you out. Just bear in mind that there are fewer ferries going to Two Harbors vs Avalon, so you have fewer options and will need to book farther in advance. It's good you're starting the process now; they've been known to sell out some days/ times weeks in advance, even in the winter.

December can be the best of times and the worst of times. I've had a lot of planned boat dives get canceled in December, and beach dives can be really tricky, except when they're randomly calm and epic. Try to set aside more dive time than you think you'll need, keep your expectations low, and cross your fingers.
 

Skirnir314

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Awesome, thanks so much!!

Can I take away from this is that the shops on Catalina only support shore diving? Seems all of the boat dives are leaving from the mainland.

I’m not married to doing Catalina specifically. I had just dived it once before, enjoyed it, and figured there was much more to see. But, I’m open to any good diving I can do in 1-2 days in the LA area. :)

How do Anacapa/Santa Cruz compare to Catalina?

- Mike
 

merxlin

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Are you going to stay on the island? Contact Catalina Diver Supply and see if they will be doing any weekday boats.

If not, most mainland boats only run weekends, although Sundiver does a lot of Friday trips if there is enough interest. Farnsworth is a different story and not likely in December. Winter swells make it tough. Had 2 separate trips cancelled last year. And most of the trips fill very quickly when announced.

Anacapa and Santa Cruz are possible out of Ventura or maybe Santa Barbara (new owners for the boats there). Peace, Raptor, and Spectre all go out of Ventura to the Northern Islands.
 

Skirnir314

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No specific plans yet, so we could stay on the island.

Awesome, I’ll reach out to Catalina Diver Supply.

It’s been 2 years since we’ve been able to dive, so actually it might be great to go to Catalina, do some refresher dives at Casino Point, stay overnight, then do some boat dives the next day.

Are Anacapa and Santa Cruz similar diving to Catalina?

I really enjoy kelp forests. I’ve done most of my diving in New England and Southeast Asia, so they’re not something I get to experience often.

- Mike
 

Esprise Me

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Yes, Anacapa and Santa Cruz are similar to Catalina. I'd say there's more variation from one dive site to another on the same island than there is between islands, so it's hard to make generalizations. But Anacapa sites tend to be relatively shallow, with somewhat better odds of sea lion encounters. Santa Cruz has some cool wrecks and wall dives. The dive park at Catalina is where I've seen nearly all the giant sea bass I've ever seen, though December isn't really peak season. But they all offer kelp and a fairly similar array of critters.

The great thing about the Raptor and Spectre boats is they always go out. You can book individual spots on them directly; you don't have to find a group chartering them for the day. The captain decides where to go based on conditions, which means you can't get your heart set on anything in particular, but you can be assured a couple of at least decent dives.
 

wnissen

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One more thing, I've been to Catalina (Avalon) four times in the winter and the conditions are wildly variable. One time we had incredible visibility and pool-like conditions. Like, calmer than most lakes. One time we made only 1 of 5 dives (should have skipped that one) and the boat didn't even make it across the channel. That time we learned what the flag for "gale warning" looks like! So be prepared for anything.
 
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