Stellar diving off California’s entire Pacific Coast makes the Golden State’s cold water bearable — off SoCal, water temps range from the high 40s to mid 70s; to the north, temps rarely exceed the upper 50s. With kelp forests, soaring pinnacles and incredible diversity of sea life, the California coast is a favorite place to, well, chill out.
Two hours south of San Francisco, the bay offers killer diving with plenty
of marine flora and fauna and fantastic visibility. Shore dive from The Breakwater off the U.S. Coast Guard Pier, or venture by boat to Outer Chase Reef to see the riotous proliferation of invertebrates.
Part of the Channel Islands, Catalina is 22 miles off SoCal’s mainland
and is definitely worth the ferry ride. At sites like Pinnacle Rock, Pirates Cove and Torqua Springs, cold water brings a host of invertebrates such
as nudibranchs, cowries, sea cucumbers and sea stars to relatively
shallow waters. (For more on diving Catalina, click here.)