Monterey Bay California
Scuba Diving Monterey Bay in California is an experience some will enjoy, or not. Unlike Caribbean and South Pacific diving, the California coast is considered cold water diving. The diving requires extra thermal protection such as a 7mm wetsuit, or a dry suit in addition to gloves and a hood. Staying warm is one concern, but the extra equipment can be overwhelming to some. Add in a current, surge or turbidity and you've lost quite a bit of the diving community's interest.
The Strong Survive
Despite the cold water, 10 foot visibility and surge, multitudes of divers embraced the ocean on the day I visited. There was easily over 70 divers present and accounted for. There was quite a bit of quibbling about the "terrible visibility" and some sarcastic statements over the survival of "terrible diving" for locals. Many others discussed the troubles of "excessive equipment" and "long walk through the breakers". To many, today was perhaps not the greatest visibility, temps or clarity, but it would do for my one day to dive.
Dry suit divers waddled down the beach carrying 50-80lbs each as the 7mm-clad students stumbled through the breakers and into a new life experience. It truly was a great day for those brave enough to battle the conditions and equipment obstacles.
Count Me Among the Strong
California diving for me was a fairly new experience. Although I had been diving southern California prior to this day, the kelp forest was alluring and I was not about to miss a chance to dive it. One day for diving meant one day to experience the Pacific kelp forest and all it had to offer. Rain, wind or sun - I was diving.
At 40 feet below, I found a plethora of stars including Bat Stars and Falling Star Sea Stars. Their coloring was stunning against the black rock backdrop where they resided. My first surprise was the Pacific Sea Nettle floating less than a foot from my mask, desperately pulsing against the strong surge. Sand hung in suspense as the ocean swayed algae back and forth. Purple sea urchins were prevalent in the rock crevasses, reminding any diver to keep their distance. The algae, anemones and other plants and invertebrates dotted the rocks like stars in the sky. Kelp reached from 40 feet to the surface with grandeur, like pillars of ancient Rome in a sea of green.
All in all, it was a beautiful day. To me, the "terrible visibility" was exceptional. The "long walk through the breakers" was nothing more than an opportunity to take a deep breath and enjoy my surroundings. The "excessive equipment" was merely a means to have one more incredible experience on this journey we call life. And despite my own griping over the 50lb weight limit for my dry suit (which flooded) bag, every inconvenient minute of dragging it through the airport was worth it.