Scuba diving in San Diego will give you a view of the region like no other–a truly immersive one! Snorkeling is always an option, but for the slightly more adventurous, scuba is the way to go (although it does require some classroom time to be certified). When you go scuba diving in San Diego, you’ll explore everything from shallow coves to deep shipwrecks.
The kelp in San Diego creates an incredible undersea forest. When you go scuba diving in San Diego’s kelp realms, you’re floating through an environment that can grow as much as 30 inches per day. In this magical environment, you’ll encounter garibaldi fish, colorful nudibranchs, bat rays, sea lions and numerous indigenous species.
Learning from the Best
San Diego is possibly the best place you could possibly learn and dive. The region has been a key player in diving worldwide, and we’re home to important equipment manufacturers and world-class dive instructors.
No experience yet? No problem! You can start in a classroom on a Friday evening and be diving in the ocean by Sunday morning.
Sites for Scuba Diving in San Diego
Some of the most popular dive sites are around La Jolla and Point Loma. La Jolla Cove is an excellent location for shore diving–it’s protected as an underwater ecological park. Real adventure seekers should definitely consider Wreck Alley, an artificial reef created by intentionally sunken ships.
When to Dive
You can definitely dive year-round, but summer and fall months are most reliable for good conditions. Definitely check in with local experts, who can advise about the safety of the conditions.
San Diego Expeditions La Jolla
To scuba dive in La Jolla, San Diego Expeditions has some great options. Scuba guides can take you through the kelp forests at La Jolla Cove and the canyon wall at La Jolla Shores. All the La Jolla Ecological Reserve dives are stunning and satisfying, and occasionally surprising.
Scuba San Diego
Scuba San Diego has been around since 1968, so naturally, they know the terrain very well. Non-divers should consider the Scuba Adventure, a great introduction to diving that lets you experience it before deciding to be certified. With Scuba San Diego, you can dive in La Jolla, dive the wrecks, or even go night kayaking to mix things up.
Check out our vacation properties in La Jolla if you want to be right by all the scuba action.
If an adventurous, memorable trip to San Diego is your aim, you’re on the right track with scuba diving. In fact, we recently wrote specifically about diving in Wreck Alley. But check out our other suggestions for rounding things out: we’ve written about the 5 most memorable places to visit in San Diego, as well as a list of 7 exciting things to do in the area. After you’ve worked up an appetite, check out some of our favorite Mission Beach restaurants for a satisfying and delicious finish.
One of the most incredible things to do in the region isn’t on land at all. Scuba diving in San Diego is anything but typical, because the coast off San Diego is home to Wreck Alley. Part of the best training grounds for wreck divers in the U.S., you too can dive Wreck Alley with pro wreck divers.
Scuba Diving in San Diego Along Wreck Alley
An artificial reef just a mile off the coast near Mission Bay, you can explore a number of both large and small wrecks. The Wreck Alley dives focus on six particular wrecks, with the flagship dive being the Yukon.
Wreck Alley is so popular for scuba diving in San Diego, that the San Diego Dive Boat Operators and the San Diego Oceans Foundation keep the sites buoyed so divers have descent/ascent lines to easily find the wrecks and also to use for their safety stops after their dive.
You can learn basic or advanced techniques for wreck diving based on your starting ability.
Classroom sessions are done at the conference center in Mission Bay Marina. For your dives, you can expect to venture out to the Canadian Destroyer HMCS Yukon, the Coast Guard Cutter Ruby E, and the World War II Aircraft the P-38, among others.
About the Wrecks
The Yukon is California’s most popular wreck. What makes the Yukon different is that it is completely intact. There is ample opportunity to dive the Yukon over and over again and always have a unique experience.
The Ruby E is almost completely covered with anemones and marine encrustations–it’s been sitting in Wreck Alley since 1989.
The El Rey was sunk by the U.S. Navy in 1987 to a big fanfare.
The only true wreck in Wreck Alley, the NOSC tower is an old Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC) tower dedicated to oceanic research. Now it sits in 60 feet of water and has sprouted an underwater ecosystem as an artificial reef. [
The Seasoned Wreck Dive Instructors at the Academy of Scuba will teach you basic and introductory wreck diving techniques. Over a two day period, you will be exposed to expert wreck diving instruction and techniques. You will be doing four world famous wreck dives over two days in Wreck Alley and have several hours of classroom instruction from your Master Scuba Diver Trainers and Master Instructors.
There are classes available for basic, intermediate, advanced and even night wreck diving.
Stay close to the diving action off Mission Beach by choosing one of 710 Beach Rentals properties in Mission Beach. You’ll work up an appetite with diving, so check out our blog post on Mission Beach restaurants. For any non-divers on your trip, or for relaxing on your down time, we’ve written about the Mission Beach boardwalk–you won’t need to look any further for fun, relaxation and great eats. And don’t forget to check out our free area vacation guide to help plan your trip!