Scuba Diving California

If you are looking to try scuba diving California, this guide will get you started! Nicknamed the golden state, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the USA.

Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, and a lot of sunshine make it popular to visit year round. While the stunning coast line is best known for its incredible road trips, it also makes for some great diving as well.

Technically speaking, there are dive spots all down the coast, including around the major cities of San Francisco and LA, but to keep this guide as helpful as possible, we’re just focusing on the top spots.

So if you are looking to go scuba diving in California, these are your best bets.

NOTE: The locations on this list are indeed the best in the country, but are not ranked from 1-4. The list is random. Number 4 might be just as good as number 1. You decide.

Where should you dive in California?

1. Monterey Area

An hours drive away is another smaller city, Monterey. Often done as a day trip, Monterey is also popular with water enthusiasts and prized for its beautiful coastline. It’s no surprise that these two smaller cities are great destinations for diving in California. For more in-depth information on how to get there, dive site information or who to dive with, check out our guide to Scuba Diving Monterey.

2. Channel Islands National Park

scuba diving california

Part of the Channel Islands group, Santa Barbara is popular with nature lovers of all kinds. A lot of the area is untouched, making it not only a good home for marine life, but it also promotes the growth of many species including sea lions, sharks, and whales, kelp and much more.

Read more about Scuba Diving Channel Islands to get more info on how to get there, dive sites, and who to dive with.

3. Malibu Area

Located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Malibu is a staple in American pop culture and has been featured in a variety of television shows and movies. Along with its celebrity status, Malibu has some awesome sites for those interested in scuba diving in California. There are a variety of good dive sites you can get to near Malibu, and for more information on those sites and locations, or dive centers in the area, CLICK HERE.

4. Orange County

Orange country is a large stretch along the coast that is made up of several municipalities. Some of the more popular areas include Anaheim, Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel, and Santa Ana. The large stretch of coastline makes it popular for beach goers and scuba divers alike. For those interested in diving around California, Orange County is a great area to go. For more information on diving around Orange County, what to see, who to dive with and more, CLICK HERE.

5. San Diego Area

San Diego, located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, is located in Southern California; just across the border from Mexico. This city is best known for its beaches, nightlife, and the abundance of available outdoor activities. While most people come to swim, surf, and hike, dive enthusiasts should know shorelines here also offer some of the best diving in America. CLICK HERE for more information on scuba diving the San Diego area.


There is also an initiative to turn old oil rig platforms into permanent dive sites and artificial reefs around California, which is a great project for the environment, and us divers alike. There are so many oil rigs dotting the horizon offshore of California, and those rigs attract tons of fish species that make it their home. So if you are a fan of oil platform diving, you’re in luck! You can check out THIS SITE for more information on the rigs to reef projects. 

RELATED: Fun Things to do in San Francisco 

Best times of year to dive California:


The diving in California is available all year, with some considerations. Obviously, the winter months will be colder than the summer months.

That being said, the summer months are also much busier, not just with divers but with snorkelers and boating activities as well. It is possible that some specific dive sites are closed during the winter months. It is best to check if this is the case ahead of time.

A local dive shop will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have.With such a large coastline, there are plenty of opportunities to go scuba diving in California. While the five destinations listed above are considered to be the best, if you find yourself elsewhere along the coast it might be worth inquiring about diving in the area. From shipwrecks to sharks to kelp and sea lions, you never know what you may find.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below! Tell us where your favorite diving is in the Sunshine State!


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