Casino Point Dive Park, Avalon, Catalina, CA

Ken and the steps Avalon, Catalina Island, CA

We took a week from our schedules this summer, as did our friends the Bocchicchios, and headed south to Catalina. None of us had ever been there, and they are supposed to have good diving. :-) So off we went.

We got there too late on Monday to actually dive, but we went over to check out the site of the Underwater Park. It looked cool, not that large but roped off from boats. And there were steps into the water so the entry would be a piece of cake!

Note that this was in the mid-afternoon, and we'd be diving in the morning. That'll matter later.

So the next morning we rented a taxi (the hotel cars claimed they wouldn't take scuba gear) for $12 and all six of us headed for Casino Point, which is next to the dive area. Rebecca and I started suiting up, and everyone else headed for the beach.

The first thing we did was walk over to the shed where one of the dive shops rents tanks and weights. Absolutely brilliant place to do it, right next to a hot diving spot. We got tanks and weights and got to it.

A while later - we're not too fast at suiting up - we were ready. We had already noticed that the tide was out, and the steps leading into the water now ended in some nasty looking rocks, but it was ok. Awkward, since we didn't know what to expect, but not bad getting in. Then we rested on the surface for a bit, since getting all the way in the water is usually fairly exhausting. Then down we went.

The first shock of (cold) water in the face usually causes me to use up about half my air. After that it's not too bad. I went down to about 15 feet and waited for Rebecca, who descends slower than I do because of her ear. But the water was clear enough that I just sat down there and waited. I was fine, and did not want her to hurry. I suppose I should not have been that far away from my dive buddy, but it didn't seem that far at the time. And it didn't occur to me until later that day that I was using a lot more air down there than she was... and women use air slower than men do anyway, statistically, and she usually uses less air than I do in fact. Anyway, it took her a few minutes to get down, then we took off.

There is a plaque on the bottom to Jacques Cousteau, and I wanted to go find it. I wouldn't have given you a nickle for our chances, cuz it's a small thing and we're not very good at navigating yet, but we did find it. Stumbled across it, if you must know, but we did. All it said was something like "This is to commeriate the life of Jacques Cousteau", but it was cool. Too bad we didn't have a camera that day. On the other hand, we did have one the next day and it didn't do too well underwater. But that's tomorrow.

We tooled around down there for over half an hour, and even got down to 50 feet. We saw lots of fish, including some bat rays I got too close to. They were cool, but took off when I got too close. I didn't mean to disturb them, I just didn't see them until we were right there and Rebecca pointed them out.

That's about when I spotted a 5 lb weight sitting on the ground. I picked it up, which worked pretty well since I was a little underweighted. I gave it back to the rental guys later. It was the same kind of weight they rented out, so I figured someone lost it fairly recently (it was pretty clean).

About then, I was getting low on air, so we headed up. Gradually, but then with more determination when I got down to less than 500 psi. When we got up, I had under 400 lbs, which surprised Rebecca, who had over 1200, I think. She said "No wonder you wanted to come up!" Yeah!

We popped up just as our family members walked up to the wall. Great timing! While we got our stuff together, they went off and rented a boat to cruise around in. We took our stuff back (another $12 cab ride) and got changed and came down to the boat.

It was, all in all, the best dive we've ever had. Lots of fish, kelp trees (that didn't bother me at all), plaques, rays, good visibility, 50 feet and 33 minutes. It was great.

The next day we decided to try using the hotel taxi. They didn't actually care that we had scuba gear. I suspect it's a rule that allows them to refuse dripping wet or messy gear. Ours was in bags and such, and wasn't a problem, so they didn't mind. We went to the downtown scuba store (Scuba Luv) and rented tanks there, and a cart to lug everything around in. This basically saved us $20 in cab fare, so it was worth it. Walking half way across Avalon with the gear wasn't that bad, and we took turns pushing the cart.

Mike (Rebecca's husband) had had to leave the day before, so Pam (my wife) took our kids on to the beach and we went on to the dive site. Today we were planning on going the other way from the stairs to find an old platform there and whatever else we could find. It took us a little longer to set up, for some reason, but we got in the water.

This time I went down with Rebecca, instead of waiting for her down below and using up my air. She got down a lot faster, so we went off north of the stairs looking for stuff. We saw lots of fish again, and were trying to take pictures of them with an underwater camera we got from a drug store, and some are on this page. The rest (and our other pictures) are at

We were down longer (36 minutes), and saw more fish, and the remnants of the pier we were looking for, which were pretty much a reef now, covered in sea life. We only got down to about 34 feet, but it was cool. How deep isn't as big a deal as what's there. (But I was pretty excited to get to 50 feet yesterday. :-)

At one point, I came across something weird. It was a weight on the ground with a rope coming off it, similar to the ones holding the buoys at the entrance, but I couldn't tell what was tied down. I swam closer to it, still trying to figure out what it was... and it swam off! It was a bat ray. It startled me as much as I did it! The "rope" was its tail sticking up. That's why I couldn't tell where it was going, it was only a foot or so long. I tried to tell Rebecca it was there, but by the time I got the card out and pointed to the picture it was long gone.

We came up and got changed, and had to lug the gear back to the dive shop. Pam and the kids had already gone back to the hotel, so we caught the van back and we all spent the rest of the day around town. The kids finished off the roll of film in the underwater camera in the hotel pool.

The picture of Catalina Island is from Google Maps.

Next: Negro Bar, Folsom, CA

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