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Diving in California

Explore diving in California

The diving in California is varied and spectacular, but if there’s one thing that defines this state’s dive experience it’s the massive, looming kelp forests that rival the state’s redwoods.

This marine algae can live for 20 years, reach lengths of 45 metres/150 feet and grow 60 cm/two feet a day. There is nothing to compare with descending down through the massive fronds that rise from the depths to a verdant surface canopy. Sunbeams filter through, and everywhere you look there’s life.

In Northern California, sea otters nestle on the surface, bright orange Garibaldi show no fear and bat rays cruise the sandy edges. Diving in California offers a rich experience for all marine enthusiast. 

When to dive in California

Diving in California can be enjoyed all year with some obvious considerations that the winter months (December-February) will be cooler than the summer months (June-August). Average water temperatures are 68°F (20°C ) during the summer with waters staying between 57-59°F (14 -15°C ) in the winter. It is always best to check with a local dive shop ahead of time to see which dive sites are available at the time you plan to visit. 

With great variety of dive sites, this region is suitable for all levels of diving. Visibility often sits between 10-20 meters.

If big marine life like gray whale interest you, December-April tends to be their migrating pattern through this region. 

Dive sites and dive shops in California

Find local PADI dive shops and explore the top dive sites with our map.

Common marine life sightings for California

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More Information

SFO (San Francisco International) and LAX (Los Angeles International) are responsible for the majority of international flights to California. OAK (Oakland International) is located near SFO and is often less expensive to fly to.

Airports for domestic flights include BUR (Burbank), LGB (Long Beach), SNA (Orange County) and SAN (San Diego).

Time Zone
120 V
Pounds/square inch (psi)
A, B
1st Stage
INT / Yoke / K
International airports
Los Angeles Intl (LAX)

Popular courses: California


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