Scuba diving often comes to mind when one thinks of tropical places such as Hawaii, Fiji, or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. However, many in Southern California don't realize the prime scuba diving found in their own backyard. La Jolla boasts two excellent dive spots for scuba divers, whether you're looking to get certified in scuba diving, or just want to see a variety of under the sea wildlife.
The Dive Areas
The La Jolla Cove is a stellar place to dive for a multitude of reasons. First off, the area of the cove is full of sea life. You'll have the chance to see a variety of fish species, plus Leopard Sharks, octopus, crabs, seals, jellyfish, and more. If you haven't dived much or have only gone diving around fish, this array of marine life may seem daunting; however, it's typically very safe to dive with these creatures. Leopard Sharks are bottom feeders known for being mild and non-aggressive so you don't need to worry about them. If you see a jellyfish, keep your distance as you don't want to get stung, though the sting of most jellyfish in La Jolla Cove are not much worse than a bee sting (wetsuits also help if you end up swimming through a jellyfish's tentacles). The creature to most be aware of are the seals. Though once you reach a certain depth you'll be less likely to see them and though they are used to sharing the water with humans, they are still wild animals and will react if they feel threatened. Therefore, keep a respectable distance and just enjoy watching them glide though the water without trying to get too close.
Secondly, the La Jolla Cove is a great place to scuba dive because you can get to the dive spot without a boat. It's as easy as climbing down the stairs into the cove. This helps to make scuba diving in the cove much more affordable. Experienced and certified divers can rent (or bring their own) equipment and dive without having to pay high boat or guide fees. Be prepared for a workout getting down and up the stairs though, since you'll have to already have your equipment and tank on - but it's worth it to see the gorgeous sea life beneath the surface.
The other great area for scuba diving in La Jolla is La Jolla Shores. The reason for this is because it's an ideal place for beginners to get certified. Show up bright and early on a weekend morning and you'll see scuba packs scattering the grass by the beach and suited up divers wading their way into the ocean. The water off of La Jolla Shores gets up to 30 feet deep not too far from shore and drops off to 40 to 50 feet, which helps new divers learn the skills of diving in deeper waters and enables dive students to meet their certification requirements. In addition, there's not much to see underneath the water at this point of the ocean; while that would usually make for a bit of a boring dive, when it's your first time it's nice to be able to just concentrate on getting used to breathing under water without having to navigate yourself around sea creatures.
Just like at the La Jolla Cove, it's a bit of a journey to get to the dive spot as you have to swim your way out to it, but this is an important part of training since it lets you become being comfortable with your dive equipment on top of the water and lets your instructor check that you're able to swim properly with it on.
Getting Certified For Scuba Diving
There are dive shops in and around La Jolla that offer certification classes. Look for a package that combines the workbook classes with pool training dives followed by enough in-ocean dives to complete your open water requirements. Also, check if equipment such as fins, wetsuits, and goggles are included - some dive shops charge extra to rent those once it's time for your open water (in the ocean) dives.
The Scuba Diving Outfit
One downfall of scuba diving off of California's shores and not in some tropical oasis down closer to the equator is that the waters are much more frigid. Even in summer, you'll need a thick wetsuit and probably booties and a wetsuit cap. While swimming on the ocean surface on a hot July day with just your swimsuit on may be fine, once you reach 30 feet deep, the water is much colder and you'll be down there for awhile, so it's good to suit yourself up until you resemble a penguin to help make sure you stay a comfortable temperature under the water.Check out some of the local La Jolla Surf Shops to rent wetsuits and other gear.
Whether you're a novice or an expert, don't wait for your next tropical vacation to get certified or put your dive skills to use. Head to the beaches in your own backyard and get ready to scuba dive in the majestic Pacific.
For even more information on snorkeling and scuba diving in San Diego, click here.