Rich in life, the five-island chain of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara islands is also a national marine sanctuary and national park. Many Southern California scuba divers, plus global visitors, take advantage of this backyard resource yearly.
Bathed in a combination of cold current from the north and warm current from the south, these waters attract big-animal action. Large marine mammals use these islands as stopover points on their migratory routes. There are seal and sea lion rookeries and haul-outs on all the islands, and these animals frequently visit divers for a game of underwater hide-and-seek. Offshore, large pods of dolphin hunt bait fish and ride the bow waves of passing boats, while blue and humpback whales dive over the deep banks for krill. California gray whales migrate through in the winter, headed for Mexico's lagoons, and return in the spring. Closer to shore, huge schools of silvery mackerel flow through the kelp forests, and brightly hued fish and invertebrates serve as colorful reminders of nature's creativity. This is a place to find nature, and to coexist and marvel in its presence.
DESTINATION PRIMER Average Water Temp: 52-68ºF What to Wear: 7 mm full wetsuit or drysuit Average Viz: 40 feet When to Go: May-February