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Show Highlights Equipment, Techniques, Best Dive Spots

June 25, 1988|CHRIS CHRISTENSEN

The latest in scuba, from equipment and techniques to the best dive spots in the world, will be highlighted at "Scuba '88, the Dive Show" today and Sunday at the Sheraton Plaza La Reina Hotel, 6101 W. Century Blvd.

Sponsored by the California Diving News, a monthly Southern California diving publication, the show includes seminars, a continuous underwater film festival and at least 80 exhibits. Novices, on a first-come, first-served basis, will be offered the chance to take a supervised test dive in a heated hotel pool.

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 at the door. Information on discounts is available through dive shops.

California has some of the best dive spots in the world. Enthusiasts can dive off the beaches at surf line or by swimming 200 to 300 feet out--and they can boat-dive with charters that will carry them to their favorite spots.

Charter boats leave from Queen's Wharf in Long Beach, 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro, or just about any harbor on the coast. Average rates are $38 to $60 a day for trips lasting six hours, or from sunrise to sunset.

Divers whose destination is Catalina Island will find ferry service available daily from the Catalina Air-Sea Terminal in San Pedro, the Catalina Terminal in Long Beach and from Newport Beach (April through October only) to Avalon.

Commuter flights are available from John Wayne-Orange County Airport; other scheduled and chartered small aircraft, seaplanes and helicopter service can be booked from Long Beach Airport, or other Southern California metropolitan areas.

Dive boat trips to other Channel Islands also can be arranged from Ventura, Santa Barbara or Oxnard. The biggest, most luxurious boats go out of Santa Barbara for multiday trips in the northern Channel Islands. There is no regularly scheduled transportation, and private boats can land only by special permit.

Here is a list of some of the best dive spots in California:

Channel Islands

On Santa Catalina's Avalon Bay, just outside Casino Point, a concrete strip offers easy access to an extensive roped-off preserve. In these waters, among the pinnacles and cliffs, and at the rocky bottom of 60 feet, are 16 wrecks, including a 163-foot steel hull.

Anacapa Island's Arch Rock is both a landmark and prime diving spot. Wreck divers can search through the remains of the Winfield Scott.

Wilson's Rock, off San Miguel Island, is covered by wildly colored invertebrates in waters as clear as any to be found on the coast. Prince Island, just off San Miguel, is home to a major sea bird rookery, so landings are not permitted.

San Nicholas Island is the best area for collecting lobster, but it's often inaccessible because of stormy weather. Introduction of sea otters may reduce game, but adds a new attraction for divers.

Dana Point to Point Dume

Prime dive spots accessible directly from shore include Diver's Cove, one of the most popular spots on this part of the coast. There is parking on the street and divers can walk to the sandy beach or try a rock entry. The waters are protected here, so there is a wide variety of fish and invertebrates in the reefs and kelp beds.

Shaw's Cove in northern Laguna Beach is small, but features diverse terrain and underwater life. It is protected by a long, rocky point and divers will find rock piles, sandy patches, some small archways, crevices and caves.

Also near Laguna Beach is Dead Man's Reef, a quarter-mile out from Crescent Bay. Beware of potentially dangerous, open sea conditions.

Palos Verdes Peninsula

There are numerous exceptionally good dive sites on the rocky shoreline of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. But many are accessible only by boat because of steep, high cliffs and privately owned property nearby. Divers who are willing to hike down the many cliff trails will be rewarded with excellent shore-diving conditions.

A steep trail known as Cardiac Path will take divers to a cove at the cliff base of Point Vicente. Underwater depths average 25 feet; divers will find a wealth of fish among the rock formations and thick kelp beds.

At 2900 Paseo del Mar, another steep path will take divers to Christmas Tree Cove, where a sandy beach entry leads into the clearest of Pacific waters and a reef that bottoms out at about 50 feet.

Malaga Cove, the northernmost dive spot on the peninsula, can be reached by a paved path from the parking area high on a cliff at 300 Paseo del Mar. Directly at the bottom of the trail, good diving can be found off the rocks, or there is a sandy beach entry. White sea bass may be seen in the sheltered waters, as well as gorgonians and crustaceans; lobsters cannot be taken from here.

White Point, at the southern end of the peninsula near the foot of Western Avenue, is the only beach on Palos Verdes accessible by car. The cove always has been a favorite site for training classes. Divers can be found here every weekend. Any diver needing a "buddy" can find one here.

There are extensive kelp beds, underwater hot springs (the cove was once the site of a Japanese mineral spring spa) and even a few wrecks. A group of diver-naturalists will be installing an underwater nature trail in the cove this summer.

Monterey

Monterey Bay and Cannery Row, as well as Point Lobos State Reserve at the southern point of Carmel Bay, offer unique kelp forest structures, colorful invertebrates and the possibility of spotting sea otters.

For more information on certification or diving instruction, contact local dive shops, or the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor's Assn., Gary Liebsack, (213) 327-5311; the National Assn. of Scuba Diving Schools, (213) 595-5361; the National Assn. of Underwater Instructors, (714) 621-5801; Professional Assn. of Diving Instructors, (714) 540-7234. For information on the Handicapped Scuba Assn., call or write the organization at 1104 El Prado, San Clemente 92672, (714) 498-6128.

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