California scuba diving in the kelp forests around the Channel Islands and Big Sur is a unique and different experience for divers more accustomed to tropical waters. Diving in kelp is similar to a walk in a lush forest of trees with these plants growing to heights of more than 120 feet. Giant kelp helps support this rare aquatic ecosystem, providing domicile for more than 800 species of marine life.
The knowledgeable Truth Aquatics crew will provide you with many scuba diving opportunities to discover a wide variety of underwater landscapes. There are untold opportunities for viewing and photographing a panorama of underwater vistas. Unlike the coral reefs of tropical waters, the giant kelp forests of the Channel Islands add a third dimension.
The rocks are covered with brightly colored bouquets of anemones, starfish, and garlands of hydrocoral, sponges, and sea fans. Moray eels, octopus, abalone, rock scallops, California spiny lobsters, and a host of other sea creatures inhabit rock fissures and crevices. Divers may chance upon giant black sea bass weighing in at 500 pounds, or halibut, lingcod, vermilion rockfish, calico bass, bat rays and more. Friendly seals and sea lions pay visits to divers to show off their graceful swimming abilities. Migrating gray whales, blue whales, hump back whales, and schools of dolphins, are familiar sightings during daylight channel crossings.
Each island offers a different and unique collection of sea life so even the most discriminating diver can find a variety that will keep them entertained. From swimming with the sea lions at the Santa Barbara Island rookery to the virtually unexplored waters of Big Sur, where everything seems bigger, these California coastal waters have something to offer every diver.
Getting to Your Diving Destination:
On most multi-day liveaboard dive trips with Truth Aquatics we will plan departure times to travel during the night hours so that you arrive at the dive site first thing in the morning. The location will dictate departure time so check the schedule closely before traveling so that you arrive on time.
The boat is always open the night before departure so that you have plenty of time to board the vessel, sign in on the ship’s manifest, store your equipment, and settle into a comfortable bunk. When you hear the engines of the boat come to life you may remain in bed or awake to watch the boat maneuver out of the Santa Barbara Harbor as we get underway to your dive destination.
Water Temperature and Visibility:
Water temperature can vary up to 15 degrees from the Northern and Southern ends of the island chain with an average of 50-60°F in winter and 60-70°F in summer. Visibility can range from 40 to 100 feet and on rare occasions sometimes even up to 150 feet.
The Truth Aquatics custom built fleet of liveaboard dive boats was created with both the diver and photographer in mind. These camera gear friendly boats include at host of amenities for the photographer; camera tables, rinse tanks, lines at all exits to help lower your gear into the water, and a friendly crew to help you in and out of the water.
From the majestically lit kelp forests and coral banks to colorful nudabranchs and playful sea lions, the Channel Islands are an underwater delight for creating beautiful imagery. Rich in diversity, the terrain can change from island to island ensuring that no two visual experiences are the same.
Much of the surrounding waters of the islands are protected by the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary. These protected waters offer some of the most visually distinct animal and plant life in the world, making it one of the best diving destinations to create stunning photography and captivating video.
Truth Aquatics has been host to the who’s who of underwater photographers and videographers. The likes of Ernest H. Brooks II, Jean Michelle Cousteau, Norbert Wu, Howard and Michelle Hall, Tom Campbell, Marty Snyderman, Mike Degruy, and many more have chosen Truth Aquatics and the Channel Islands as one of their preferred destinations for creating beautiful topside and underwater imagery.
Whether you are an amateur or professional photographer or filmmaker a dive trip with Truth Aquatics will ensure that exciting and memorable images are to be made and that both you and your gear will be well cared for.
Discovery Dive Trips
Caters to divers of all skill levels, and are a great option for newly-certified divers or those who have been away from the sport for a while. With a more hands-on direction and guidance from the captain and crew, these trips are designed to give the diver some valuable boat diving skills at a relaxed entry level location.
What is a Discovery Dive?
Truth Aquatics’ 2-Day Discovery Dives head to the Inner Northern Channel Islands and are slower-paced trips designed for new divers, instructors with students completing dive courses, divers with fewer logged dives and diver looking for extra boat diving experience. They also provide a great introduction to liveaboard dive boats. The captain and crew give a comprehensive briefing at each dive site and, for those interested, the crew will give demonstrations on proper boat diving etiquette while suiting up or reading ocean condition. Learn how to board the boat in rough conditions, use a current line and understand how a boat swings in the wind. These trips target the calmest and clearest waters at Santa Cruz Islands and we also invite intermediate and advanced divers to join us and dive at their leisure.
With a price between $411 – $420 per person, the trip includes all meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages and air refills. Our fleet departs from the Sea Landing, in Santa Barbara, at 4am and everyone is encouraged to board the night before after 8pm. Aiming for more protected waters we plan for 5 dives on the first day and 3 on the last day of the trip. Enjoy great freshly cooked meals aboard and hang out around the BBQ with your favorite drink after your day of diving. After 2 fantastic days of great diving, we dock back in Santa Barbara Harbor around 5pm.
There is no better way to learn about the lifestyle of boat diving than one of these trips. Gain valuable skills that will enable you to dive from any liveaboard boat around the world!
Trip dates are available on our online calendar and for more information please contact our office. Group discounts and incentives are available for dive shops and dive clubs. Please, contact Truth Aquatics and ask for our group sales representative. Gear reservations are a separate fee and can be made at the time of reservation with the SEA Landing Dive Center.
Fishing at the Channel Islands can be very exciting and rewarding. Over the years divers have come from all around to spearfish both on Scuba and free diving, grab lobsters and take rock scallops. Truth Aquatics firmly believes in observing all fish and game regulations and we endorse responsible conservative fishing practices. There is nothing like eating fresh seafood harvested from the ocean but we all need to take part in conservation in order to sustain a healthy resource.
Over the years the fish and game and user groups made up of commercial and recreational fisherman, citizens, and biologist established Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) around the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary. These areas are no fishing zones but divers can dive within them with fish onboard as long as fishing equipment is stored and not in use.
Please check our calendar to find a trip that suits the type of fishing you are interested in. Specialty fishing trips are scheduled throughout the year and many groups allow hunting as part of their charter.
Everyone who desires to fish must posses a California Fish and Game License along with appropriate stamps and report cards. You can purchase your fishing license online or at Sea Landing prior to your departure.
The Truth Aquatics crew is experienced with first hand knowledge of the many shipwrecks that can be dove in the Santa Barbara Channel. Wreck diving offers an altogether different experience from the reefs and giant kelp forests that surround the Channel Islands. Diving shipwrecks presents new challenges and experiences for scuba divers. These large structures offer up a unique playground to explore and provide artificial reefs that have become home for many types of marine life.
The Santa Barbara Channel has a long and rich maritime history and the shipwrecks found in these waters reflect that. From recent times with the 1980 wreck of the Spirit of America to the 1853 wreck of the sidewheel steamer, the SS Winfield Scott, wreck diving in the channel provides you with a wonderful diversity of options to explore.