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Dive Review of Scuba Luv in
The Continental USA/Santa Catalina Island, CA

August, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Mort Rolleston, DC, United States
Report Number 2768
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Ko Samui Thailand, Great Barrier Reef, Nassau, Bonaire, NC wrecks, wrecks
near Brockville Ontario, Key Largo FL
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy, dry  
Water Temp
62   to 70    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
We dove for two days around Santa Catalina Island.  On the first day, we
did three dives at Italian Gardens, Gibralter Pinnacle, and Sea Fan Grotto.
 Each was very different than the other.  Italian Gardens had little in the
way of interesting scenery, but had 4-5 very large jewfish size giant black
sea bass, which were not shy of swinging by very closely to check you out. 
Gibraltar Pinnacle is a rock formation that has a fair amount of small
morays, lobster, small octopi, and many small fish.  Sea Fan Grotto has
stunning scenery with dramatic large walls and fairly thick kelp forests,
but the fewest fish.  All sites have the bright orange garibaldi, a large
damselfish that, like clownfish, are not afraid to defend their nests.  All
sites also have small inch-long flourescent looking gobies over all
surfaces at the density of about one per square foot.  Other than the
garibaldi, fishlife primarily seemed to be mostly small blue blacksmiths
with occasional sheepheads and small horn sharks.  While there were some
kelp at each site, most were individual or small groups of strands in an
otherwise clear ocean, which surprised me a bit.  The sealife definitely
clusters around the kelp.  It turned out that the second day we were there
was the dive shop's monthly trip out to Farnsworth Bank, widely considered
the best diving on Catalina and even California.  We happened to catch it
at its best conditions, according to the boat pilot:  little current and
surge, sunny day, and 40-50 feet of visibility.  The Bank is a large
pinnacle a mile or so off the ocean side of the island that comes to about
50-60 feet of the surface.  Most of the sealife and the light was on top of
the pinnacle, so we spent most of our two dives there.  Farnsworth is full
of life.  The many cracks and crevices were full of lobsters, octopi
(including one that came out and was very photogenic and hung out with us
out in the open for several minutes), colorful Spanish Shawls (purple
nudibranches with bright orange frills coming out the length of their
backs), keyhole limbits, blue halfmoons, sea urchins, starfish, green
anenomies, rockfish, garibaldi, moray eels (including one out in the open),
and sheephead.  Lots of small baitfish (perhaps sardines) and blacksmiths
clouded over the pinnacle.  The pinnacle also contained purple hydrocoral,
unlike other sites on the island.  On the way back, we stopped for our
third dive of the day at Garibaldi Reef near the mine on the south side of
the island.  The site is known for various sharks, but we did not see any. 
We did see a couple of large black sea bass, a couple of large bat rays,
and some large sheep crabs that remind you of giant crabs from Alaska. 
Overall - the sea life is quite different from the tropics, which was a
nice change of pace, and the kelp is quite beautiful as well.  Only minor
disappointment is that we didn't see any seals or sea lions underwater
(they apparently head north during this time of year).  We didn't have time
to do the shore dive right off the Casino in Avalon, but we walked by and
it seems like fantastic (and very convenient) diving and snorkeling.  It
apparently has immense kelp forests and the sealife seems to know they are
protected within the ropes that keep boats and fisherman out.  It
apparently gets very crowded on weekends though (we were there during the
week).  As for the dive shop, Scuba Luv:  we liked the fact that they go
out for the entire day - unlike some other places we dove elsewhere that
try to do two trips per day with the boat and are, therefore, pushed for
time.  As a result, everything was relaxed and you could dive as long as
you wanted.  They served basic sandwiches with various toppings at lunch as
well as fruit, cookies, and various drinks.  They were very pleasant and
relaxed.  They basically allowed the divers to do their own thing, but were
readily available to help out if anyone wanted or needed it.  A local
marine biologist apparently often dives with this shop, so he would film
fish life during the dives and would participate in the dive briefs and
talk about the marine life you were seeing.  The communications of the shop
was a bit odd.  For example, not all divers on the boat to Farnsworth Bank,
an advanced site, knew boat was even going to the Bank.  While it turned
out not to be an issue, any beginner divers would have been hosed and
probably uncomfortable.  I was a little disappointed that there were no
buoys to tie up to.  While there isn't much in the way of coral to destroy
and lots of sand to put down the anchor at most sites, the anchor at
Farnsworth Bank did so some damage on the top of the pinnacle.  But that
doesn't appear to be the dive shop's issue and if dive boats are only going
to Farnsworth once a month, at least that limits the potential damage
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