San Diego (La Jolla) Diving
A few weeks back I was out in San Diego on business and brought my dive gear with me. I lived there for about 2½ years in the late 1990’s and enjoyed shore and boat diving on a regular basis and also did some Divemaster work on a local dive boat. Now, any time I head there I bring my gear and try to work in a few dives!
Late on a Monday afternoon I met up with a buddy for a dive at La Jolla Shores, right off Vallecitos Street. My buddy, Brady, is a San Diego resident that I met last year through an area dive group called Divebums. Brady was a relatively new, but extremely proficient, diver when I first met him. He’s working his way down the tec road and his comfort in the water is evident. We geared up, walked straight off the beach and surface swam straight out on a 300o heading for about 200 yards before dropping down to continue on that heading at about 15’ just above the sandy bottom. The bottom gradually began to slope deeper and steeper. We followed until we were at about 110’ where we only spent a few minutes before beginning to work our way back up.
It was an incredibly relaxing dive, water temperature was quite comfortable, and visibility was better than 25’. We saw most of the usual critters on this dive and Brady got some nice video with his Go Pro. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos – did I mention that shortly after our descent I noticed my camera housing was wide open and there was no camera to be found. As a result the photos in this blog are screen captures from his videos. We came across a large sheep crap sitting out in the open, who seemed completely un-phased by our presence, lots of lobster, flounder, garibaldi. The hit of the day was a large nudibranch that neither of us recognized. It was 3-4” long, very colorful, and positioned for an amazing photo (argh, my camera).
Our ascent was slow and mellow with a return to the shallows at 15’-20’. In this area we saw multiple stingrays and a very large flounder as we slowly returned to the beach. Post dive we chatted amongst ourselves and with other divers then headed out and enjoyed the atmosphere and fare at one of Brady’s hangouts, Jimmy O’s in Delmar.
The following evening we met at La Jolla Cove for another awesome dive. We got a late start so the sun set about midway through.
Once geared up, we descended the cement stairs to the beach, waded past the swimmers, conducted our last checks and surface swam out on a northerly heading. Just as we dropped down a sea lion decided to cruise by for a photo op. Lobsters were out in force, but all we took was video because lobster season was still one week away and La Jolla Cove is a marine preserve. Our swim out continued on a northern heading and was very relaxed as we let the surge take us.
Since Brady was our videographer, I navigated. We planned our dive and dove our plan perfectly. At the agreed upon pressure, we turned 90 degrees to head east. At about this point I started to notice we were losing ambient light and becoming more dependent on our lights. This served only to make the dive more interesting as kelp stalks look very eerie in low light – almost like a haunted forest. We continued on at about 45’ moving over, under, and around various underwater ‘gardens’.
At the next waypoint, we turned to 180o degrees (south) to head south back toward the beach. By this time there was no more ambient light and our lights were it. On we went for the remainder of the dive, gradually getting shallower and feeling it in the warmth of the water. By the time we reached our agreed upon ending pressure, we’d been at 12-15’ for a few minutes.
Upon ascent we found we were exactly where we’d planned. The sun had set, the swimmers were gone, the lifeguard tower was closed up, but the beach wasn’t vacant; it was occupied by sea lions. We did our best not to disturb them as we weaved our way around them and headed back up the stairs to take off and stow our gear.
Just another great dive at La Jolla Cove in sunny (then moonlit) San Diego!