conditions are good, diving in California can be as beautiful as
any place on earth, albeit a little colder than some. Swimming
through a kelp forest on a sunny day feels just like walking through
a terrestrial forest. Diving in California can include submarine
canyons with sheer walls, rocky outcroppings, wrecks, kelp forest,
and open ocean. Accordingly, the wildlife one can expect to see
varies just as much.
Divers access this diverse environment
via shore diving and by boat. Several "six pack" charters leave
from San Diego and harbors in Orange, Ventura, and Santa Barbara
Counties. There are also larger liveaboard-type boats. We have
had great trips on the dive boat Horizon out of San Diego, which
travels mainly to the Southern Channel Islands and Mexico. Truth
Aquatics offer diving from three different vessels and primarily
take divers to the Northern Channel Islands.
Our favorite places
to dive in California are the Channel Islands, a group of 6 off-shore
islands stretching from San Clemente in the South to San Nicholas
in the North. The water temperature at San Clemente is warmer
than most other places in California and the kelp forest can
be stunning. San Miguel is probably our favorite Northern California
location. The water can be quite cold (high 40's) but the marine
life is incredibly colorful. We also travel to the local kelp
beds in our 17 foot Parker skiff. Pete knows this area very well
after making about 2000 dives here while working at Scripps.
SEA OF CORTEZ
We have been to the Sea of Cortez several times. The
first trip involved trailering our boat down the Baja peninsula
and camping and diving from shore. The second time was in October
2000 aboard the Don Jose which was chartered by friends. Most of
the Sea of Cortez images on this site are from that trip. Although
we didn't encounter the large animals that have made this part
of the world famous (mantas, hammerheads, and whale sharks) we
swam with large schools of jacks, played with the infamous sea
lions at Los Islotes, and found many other colorful animals. We
also fell in love with the town of La Paz, with it's beautiful
bay, friendly people, and terrific margaritas. Bahia de los Angeles,
only 9 hours from home, has become a favorite location of ours.
The water is pretty murky but many inhabitants are a pleasure to
see and photograph. The scenery is amazing and it is a wonderful
place to just kick back, read, fish, eat and dive.
the most famous islands in the world, we visited this archipelago
in 1998, during one of the biggest El Nino events. The Galapagos
was not what we expected due to the exceptionally high water temperatures
and high amounts of rainfall. The warm water kept the normally
huge numbers of hammerheads in deep water or well off-shore, keeping
the number of encounters quite low. We did see our first and only
whale shark which still stands out as one of our greatest underwater
experiences. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea (the
one we encountered was a small 14 feet) and use their huge mouths
to sweep in tons of plankton for their food. We spent two weeks
touring around the islands, including the Northern isolated islands
of Wolf and Darwin aboard the Lammer Law, one of the largest trimaran
sailboats in the world.
of the things that made our Galapagos trip one of the best was
the outstanding land visits we did almost every day. Our exceptional
guides showed us all the animals that the islands are famous for
such as iguanas, penguins, sea lions, tortoises, and the myriad
species of birds. We also spent several days touring the area around
Quito which gave us enough of a taste of South America to make
us want to go back and see much more of this colorful region.
COSTA RICA AND COCOS ISLAND
is famous for it's dense populations of large pelagic life such
as jacks, sharks (hammerheads, silkies, silvertips and white tips),
and whale sharks. Unfortunately, the area took a beating from illegal
fishing so populations have been very low at times, including while
we were there in January 2003. The diving is very challenging with
swift currents on most dives. A private charter with some great
people made this an unforgettable trip. We also loved Costa Rica
and will return to see more.
We have been to Fiji to dive twice. The first
trip was in 1992 where we stayed at the Matagi resort and dove
mostly in the Rainbow Reef area. We returned to Fiji in April 2000
and spent on week on the liveaboard boat Nai'a and one week on
the Sere Ni Wai. Both boats travel and dive mostly in the Bligh
Water region, between the islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and
Gau. The visibility was marginal and many corals were starting
to recover from El Nino, but the trip was wonderful, and produced
my best wide angle scenic images so far. Fiji is most famous for
her abundance of soft corals of every size and color imaginable.
This trip also gave us our first experience of travelling in a
country in the middle of a coup, but we had no troubles whatsoever,
and the Fijian people, as always, went out of their way to make
us feel at home.
We first visited the Solomon Islands
in 1997. Pete's mother was in Guadalcanal during World War II and
he had a great interest in the history of the region. I just wanted
to dive this area that had a well-deserved reputation as one of
the premier dive destinations, especially for photographers. We
spent a week on the MV Solomon Sea and a week at Uepi Island Resort,
which remains one of our favorite places to stay. I went back in
1998 as a last-minute addition to a trip with Chris Newbert and
Birgitte (Deda) Wilms on the Bilikiki. These trips are world famous
for photographers as Chris does a 5 day underwater photo course
and they go to all best dive sites with photography in mind. Chris
and Deda are the most gracious hosts and I learned a tremendous
amount during the two week trip. The Solomon Islands does indeed
have some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, and an
incredible diversity of marine life.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Like the Solomons, this is another
Western Pacific location that resides near the top of the list
of the world's best dive destinations and boasts of it's incredibly
high diversity of marine creatures. We spent 10 days on the Febrina
after spending a few days at Walindi Plantation on Kimbe Bay on
the Island of New Britain. This was our first real liveaboard dive
trip, and it spoiled us forever. The diving was truly spectacular,
and was our first time to swim with and photograph sharks. One
of the biggest highlights had to be snorkling with a pod of Spinner
dolphins as they rode the bow of the Febrina.
diving at Kimbe Bay, we journeyed to the highlands and where we
spent several days at the Ambua Lodge, which we still rate as the
most spectacular place we've stayed. We were able to see how the
highland people called the Huli Wigmen lived and enjoyed breathtaking
scenery and wildlife.
2002 we traveled again to PNG after I won a trip on the Chertan,
a liveaboard that concentrates on diving in Milne Bay. This is "muck
diving" at it's finest. We did many dives in shallow, silty
areas and found some of the most unique marine creatures anywhere.
Captain Rob van der Loos runs his boat in a very laid back manner
but is great at showing his guests these unusual animals.