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Dive Review of Dive Catalina/Villa Portofino in
The Continental USA/Catalina Island, CA

November, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Neil Burgess, NF, CA
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports)
Report Number 6804
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Cozumel, Yucatan cenotes, Guadeloupe
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, no currents  
Water Temp
60   to 61    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Abundance and variety of fish in kelp forest of Avalon Underwater Park was
very good. Fish were not shy of divers and were easy to photograph.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
5 stars   
4 stars    
My wife and I really enjoyed two days of diving on Catalina Island in
mid-November. Coming from Newfoundland, the weather was beautifully sunny
and warm in California. We dove comfortably in dry suits, but most other
divers were in wet suits. There are only three dive operators in the town
of Avalon. We chose to go with Ron Moore and Dive Catalina, based in part
on past news items in Undercurrent. Ron and Connie treated us like friends,
right from our first phone conversation. I had booked a boat dive and Ron
was good to his word. He agreed to take my wife and I out in the boat, even
though we were his only divers that day. That meant a lot to us. The two
boat dives were our first in kelp forest and Ron's dive briefings were
informative and safety-oriented. The dives at Long Point and Hen Rock were
fabulous. Lots of giant kelp, a large variety of fish and inverts (all new
to us), and lots of bottom structure to keep it interesting. We had freedom
to set our own dive plans and the sites were well suited to our level of
training and experience. The hot freshwater shower and rinse tank on the
dive boat (Catalina Grace) made rinsing our gear easy after we finished.
Our second day was at the Avalon Underwater Park by the casino. Ron met us
there with our dive gear and tanks, and provided a good briefing on the
highlights to see, the depths, navigation and potential hazards. The Park
provides an excellent setting for shore diving with entry stairs, lockers,
washrooms, fill station, and cafe on site. The kelp forest holds a wide
variety of fish and inverts, with some very approachable for photographers
(especially "Oscar" the sheephead). The Cousteau plaque and the
several sailboat wrecks provide some spots to visit beside the giant kelp.
The bottom has some steep drops towards the end of the breakwater, which
were interesting to explore. I imagine the Underwater Park must get very
crowded in the summer months, but it was treat in November. We stayed at
the Villa Portofino and had a normal-sized, clean motel room for a
mid-range price. (Hotel rooms tend to be small and expensive in Avalon,
especially in summer.) The Portofino does not cater to divers and had no
rinse tank or gear-drying area. The Seaport Village Inn is another choice;
it caters more to divers with rinse tanks, diver shuttles to the Underwater
Park and boats, and cheaper rates. But the rooms are not as nice as the
Portofino. I highly recommend the Lobster Trap restaurant. It's where the
locals go for food (a tip from our dive boat captain, Clint). Excellent
seafood and good prices. The best source of information on dive sites is
Bruce Wicklund's 2005 book "Boat, Dive & Fish Catalina
Island".  Lots to do on Catalina besides diving with island and casino
tours, zip lines, kayaking, snorkeling, "submarine" excursions,
and Zodiac trips to see dolphins and sea lions. Have some fun and rent a
golf cart for an hour, and tour Avalon and the surrounding hills for some
stunning views. It's hard to believe how laid-back, relaxed and affordable
Avalon is in November, given it's close proximity to Los Angeles. It's a
hidden oasis of calm for those not familiar with diving in southern
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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