By David Morse
So you always wanted to scuba dive (or learn how to scuba dive) in Laguna Beach?
The shoals off Laguna, at almost every turn, is loaded with colorful fish, lobsters, eels and more. Available to everyone, quick and easily.
Not unlike most people in Laguna Beach I spent my youth and now my “other years,” on the Southern California beaches in the surf and watching the ocean. My love of the ocean never included diving, only snorkeling. At the insistence of a friend, however, I took a Groupon offer and walked into a place that changed my world — Beach Cities Scuba. The instructor, a former navy diver, was focused and showed me how in a series of simple classes, I could be PADI certified. Within a month, I was diving off Laguna. My instruction costs was less than $300.
Where to go
Beach Cities Scuba is headquartered locally on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point where they have classes. The nearest pool for scuba diving lessons is at the Laguna Beach Store, on Pacific Coast Highway in North Laguna.
Andrew, who manages Beach Cities Scuba, knows more about equipment, and what works for new and experienced divers than any other dive store I have visited. His quick wit is always tempered with comments on safety and the options for equipment. Amazon and other web sites offer no better prices than Beach Cities Scuba, and Beach Cities Scuba stands behind their equipment. Andrew has been essential in helping me decide where in the world to dive and what I would need. My recent trips to Zanzibar and Sipadan could not have been better and it was thanks to Andrew’s cautious preparation for me.
Beach Cities Scuba contracts with a local dive boat out of Dana Point harbor that leaves each weekend. They also lead epic night dives. On Saturday and Sunday, they usually have two day dives, one leaving early in the morning around 7 AM and the afternoon dive at 1. If you rent equipment you will not be disappointed. I have never heard a complaint about the status of any rented equipment and if there is any issue with purchased regulators or dive computers they are immediately rectified.
The boats have room for students and recreational divers. Buddies can be arranged on the boat, but the best advice is to arrive in pairs. The boat provides two tanks and muscle to get in and out of the boat. Dive locations go as far north as Emerald Bay and as far south as Three Arch Bay.
What you can see
The underwater landscape is not as dramatic as the channel islands, it is, after all, a near shore dive. Each dive ranges in the 45 foot range but can go deeper if you are interested. The reef and kelp beds offer amazing views of a multitude of local fish from California’s famous bright orange Garibaldi, to sheepshead, lobsters, a variety of smaller sharks, and a variety of Moray Eels. Visibility can be tough if the weather, tides and surges are unusual, but a call to Andrew will provide you the latest update.
Another great resource is the dive club ‘No Beach Too Tough’ (NBTT). You can find them on Facebook and request membership. This is a broad range of divers, from newbies to master divers and everyone is welcomed in open arms. Local dives are posted and invites are open. These dives are usually beach dives and require hike down to the beach and back up with equipment, but they are always attentive divers and a great group to hook up with. Occasionally, NBTT and Beach Cities Scuba offers dives at the Channel Islands and a few exotic places.
For someone with kids who roll their eyes at my adventures—hiking safaris in Central Africa, long slow boats up the Mekong through Laos to China and hiking the Himalayas, I promise them safety, but I won’t compromise my adventure. For local divers, I think I found the answer in Beach Cities Scuba.
Beach Cities Scuba
34283 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, CA 92629
Images Copyright Laguna Beach Gazette 2014. Do not use them without permission.
Note from the Editor:
Opinions are those of the author. According to FTC rules we must disclose that the author received a gratuitous dive from Beach Cities Scuba.