This beautiful stretch boasts world-class diving, courtesy of the nutrient-rich water upwelling from the Carmel Trench that nourishes lush kelp forests and colorful anemones. You'll likely meet playful otters and sea lions. Don’t miss the stellar diving in the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. (For more on diving Carmel Bay, click here.)
Santa Barbara Island
The smallest of the Channel Islands holds big appeal for divers, especially thanks to the many sea lions who make their home here. Pinniped sightings are practically guaranteed at sites like the Rookery and Shag Rock, while walls blanketed in vibrantly hued invertebrates provide visual delight.
La Jolla Cove
Thanks to the protection afforded by the La Jolla Park Ecological Reserve, this site hosts a wonderfully healthy marine ecosystem. Sheltering in the kelp forests are all manner of sea creatures, including harbor seals, sea lions, lobsters and sharks. Keep an eye out for the vibrant orange garibaldi, California’s state fish.