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Beach Diving Basics

You Can Dive at the Beach?!

Yes, you can. :) Shore diving isn't just something people do in the tropics. If you've been with us at Casino Point or any of our local boat trips, you already know that California is an incredible place to dive. Most of our local species can also be found at our beaches. With a good plan and nice weather, you can give it a try too! Being mentored and racking up experience make the difference between a great time and getting pounded into rocks, though. If you're curious and want to give it a try, just email me and we can give it a go.

This is part of a series of posts based on topics requested via Facebook. Come join the discussion by liking PCH Scuba on Facebook or friending us on twitter @pchscuba

So it's easy... right?

Nothing is easier than being on a boat, taking a couple steps, and giant striding into 40 ft of water. While shore diving does have a number of benefits, it takes considerably more effort to do it and logistics start to get annoying when you plan for more than a couple people or more than a single dive. Also keep in mind that things are different when you're shore diving in California or when you're in front of the resort during your next tropical trip. Weather is also a bigger factor than when you're on a boat.

The Good

  • Cost: Shore diving is inexpensive. You can dive a bit more while you're trying to save up for your next tropical trip.
  • Time: Sometimes, you're busy and you can't make a scheduled boat.
  • Night dives: Boats will run most of their trips during the day. Shore diving lets you do more night dives.
  • Food Choice: Take the group to your favorite place after getting dry.
  • No Rush: Surface intervals, breaks, longer dives... all your choice.
  • Easy navigation: If properly researched, provides a good place to get better at underwater navigation.
  • More sleep: Start your day whenever you like.
  • Self Reliance: With experience, you become better at helping yourself.
  • Awareness when experienced: With so many more things to pay attention to, diving in general gets easier.

The Bad

  • Not as nice: Generally less to see due to fishing pressure and urban run-off. Life tends to be smaller and not as lush.
  • Viz: You'll generally have less visibility than at deeper (boat-accessible) sites.
  • Parking: Always an issue at nice beaches. Plan ahead or expect your plans to be delayed.
  • Facilities: Not all beaches have toilets, drinking water, or rinse showers.
  • Late people: Big group? You will have stragglers and traffic issues.
  • Air fills: Bring more than one tank or expect to drive somewhere (and dealing with packing gear) in between each dive. More delays!
  • Sandy Gear: Cleaning your gear takes longer.
  • Hard navigation: If you show up to a place without researching it, get ready to get lost.
  • No help: No DM to help out with spare parts/gear issues.
  • Gearing up: In your car or at the parking lot.

The Ugly

  • Awareness when you're new: With so many more things to pay attention to, you might accidentally do unsafe things.
  • Heavy Gear: Cross the street, walk across the sand, THEN get through the waves with gear on your back. Repeat that after diving for an hour to get back to the car.
  • Rough Surf: Entering and exiting through waves can get tricky. You can go from a relaxed, fun dive to a dangerous situation fast.
  • Rocky exits, Rip currents: Can be dangerous.
  • Gear Wear and Tear: Sand is abrasive, especially for cameras and electronics.

The ... Confusing

Deciding where/when to go shore diving is 1 part science, 1 part reading dive reports, and 4 parts voodoo. If you think the TV weather man gets it wrong a lot, you should read surf condition websites. Developing a reliable sense for this can take a long while. You learn to be humble and skip a dive rather than do something dangerous. If you're smart, this happens without any close calls.

Over the course of the week, I'll be highlighting some of the favorite shore diving sites around the area... stay tuned!