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

Scuba Luv, Aug, 2006,

by Mort Rolleston, DC, United States . Report 2768.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments 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 somewhat.

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

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas
Water Temp 62-70°F / 17-21°C Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 40-50 Ft/ 12-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 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 N/A Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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