LA - Casino Point
from Christian Schulz
In Avalon on Santa Catalina Island
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02/14/2012 Nate Ewigman (Avg: 4.92 Review) - A really amazing dive site, and the protections that Catalina Island has afforded the area have paid off in incredible kelp and fauna. Dived for a week in Feb 2012 for about 4.5 hours. My first cold water diving experience (51 f at the bottom) and I loved it. For those not used to cold water, I am 170 lbs and used 11 mm of neoprene with about 18 lbs of weight. Hoods, gloves of course. I felt really comfortable for 50 minute dives. The whole park is really excellent diving, and amazing for u/w photography. The only thing I would add to others' descriptions is a highlight from my dives - about 25 minutes with sea lions...A first for me! They were slightly beyond the park, so me and my db surface swam to the buoys at the end of the park, then u/w navigated to them and back to minimize any risk (boats occasionally go close to the buoy). What an AMAZING experience, they are so incredibly playful. My advice - go to where they are and then they make the decision to come to you. If you do go beyond the boundaries of the park, be very careful and highly confident in your navigation abilities as it feels pretty much like 'blue ocean' once you are past the park. A diver's flag would be a wise choice. However, there's loads to see in the park itself as well.
03/16/2011 Doug from Cucamonga (Avg: 4.24 Review) - This is as good as shorediving gets in California. It almost doesn't seem fair to consider Casino Point a shore dive since it's so easy to get in the water...but alas you are entering from the shore, so technically it is a shoredive. So: entry is easy, rarely is there surf, rarely is there surge, the kelp is big and healthy, there's lots of sealife and vis averages from 30-50ft and at times can be 100ft. Not to mention there is an airfill station on-site. Few downsides to this spot though. It's pretty busy on weekends, and on weekends in the summer it's PACKED! Seriously, sometimes there's a line of divers waiting to get in the water. Also, sometimes vis is excellent, but gets screwed up by OW classes silting up the water like nobody's business. Also, since there's so many divers, Casino Point isn't exactly in pristine condition (although it's definitely not destroyed or anything like that). And there can be some fairly strong currents there as well. Lastly, although there is a good amount of sea life, I actually find that I see more fish and a wider variety of fish at Heisler Park in Laguna…so this is not the Socal fish mecca you might think it is. Drawbacks aside, this is still my favorite Socal Shoredive as it offers depth, great vis, tall/healthy kelp, easy access, an on site air fill station and a good amount of sealife. You can do boat dives that will give you a better/more beautiful dive-experience, but as far as shorediving goes, Casino Point is the best diving in Socal.
06/18/2009 Chip Reuben (Avg: 2.76 Review) - This dive site is an excellent spur-of-the-moment dive, because you can rent all of your gear right at the dive site!
11/08/2007 Stacey Steele (Avg: 3.07 Review) - Casino Point was a great dive. Probably the most enjoyable experience of it was getting a picture of me kissing the Jacques Cousteau plaque at approximately 35 ft. Beautiful kelp forests and marine life. Visibility was great. Highly recommended, especially for amateur divers.
11/05/2006 Robert Inglis (Avg: 4.62 Review) - Casino Point has always been one of my favorite dive spots. I went with a group from DiverFest.com the weekend of October 13th, 2006. We stayed at the Hermosa Hotel. Their motto is "sleep cheap" as they are the cheapest hotel on the island which, if you want to save money, this is a huge saver. The entry stairs do get crowded, but, if you time your dives right, you can avoid all the students who seem to dive all at the same time. There has always been a lot to see and visibility is usually over 30 feet, not to mention that night diving is just as nice. Being that the dive site is protected, the fish are much more friendly and tend to just hangout with you while you dive. It's cool when you look into some rocks and the fish are right there checking out what your doing. If your looking for a easy dive spot, then Casino Point is the place to go.
09/12/2006 Todd (Avg: 3.80 Review) - I have to admit that I was not excited about doing this dive at first. The idea of fighting up to 200 other divers to go down one set of stairs to swim around a little roped off area sounded less than ideal to say the least. All of my concerns were put to rest the moment I started to descend from the surface. There are a lot of classes going on during weekends, so visibility isn't great around the entry point, but other than that, the visibility cleared up for me quite nicely to about 40-50 feet. Also, it can get very crowded on entrance and exit, but again, once you get away from the stairway area, it didn't feel crowded at all. I had two dives here the other week, both were enjoyable, but the earlier dive off to the right from the staircase was the better one. Following the line of kelp, I easily encountered at least 10 different species of fish within the first few minutes. Lots of curious kelp bass and garibaldi would hang out with me, even keeping me company during my 3 minute safety stop! Some other highlights were small schools of barracuda hanging out just off of the kelp, and also spotting a California halibut swimming in the sand. If you take Catalina express, you can arrange to have a baggage service take your gear to casino point and back. If you are in a rush to get in the water though, it may be better to arrange to carry your own gear, as it can take up to 20 minutes or so for your gear to arrive. It is also disappointing about not having on-site shower facilities to wash your gear, so plan accordingly for any gear you are concerned about rinsing right away.
08/12/2006 Scuba Joe (Avg: 3.61 Review) - My wife and I had 2 great dives, the kelp is awesome and there's lots of cool garibaldis. The big downside for us is that there is not a very good setup place for suiting up and NO fresh water to rinse your gear! Between my wife and me, we have over 2k in gear and there was nowhere to rinse it. Inexcusable! There is a place to shower walking back towards the ferry. Its called the 'Casino Point Showers' or something like that. The guy charges $2 for a 5minute shower (no big deal, we paid for 10 minutes each) but when we tried to bring in our gear he says (the owner of this soon to be bankrupt shower facility) "oh no we have tried that with YOU divers and it does not work." Why does he care since I am paying for the water and time? We have never met an inconsiderate scuba diving gear rinser. We were both so ticked off we got our $8 bucks back, (I could not give this guy my money out of pure principle now) and went home on the ferry with our gear and us both salty. Never again Catalina! There are too many places that actually want and encourage divers to come visit. Here are some facts of our day long excursion (so glad we did not book a room like we had planned too) $116.00 for the ferry, $45 for Catalina shirts, cards etc. breakfast in town $22.00, hydration drinks before and after dives $44.00, scuba tanks and weights for 2 dives each $55.00, lunch $34.00. For a grand total of $326.00. It would have been more as we quit diving early so my wife could go shopping in town (which would have been pricey) but we were so disgusted with the utter indifference of the fact that we were there and had lugged 70lbs of gear and spent a lot of money on their island, so we took the hint and headed for the ferry. On our walk back, I talked to a guy working at the dive shop on the pier who was also disgusted by the "shower nazi" as they supposedly call this guy. He told me to write a letter to the Chamber of Commerce; but what is the point as I will never go back. I am not sure if this was the same shop that has the van down at the Casino Point but in my opinion they should be providing a rinse tank for the people who rent their tanks, charge us for it, but then say "no, we don't have one"? They don't understand diving very well. My opinion is if you're going to Catalina to dive, skip the island and just pay for a day long dive boat excursion out of long beach; they understand and want divers to come back, or better yet just go to the Cayman Islands, it's cheaper. Please, though, if you are a diver, do not support 'The Casino Point Showers'. Cheers and good diving everyone! Joe
01/29/2006 Brian Xavier (Avg: 4.59 Review) - Casino Point is one of my favorite dive spots anywhere. The viz is usually great and the fish life is amazing. Dove for two days in July and on the second day saw a giant sea bass in about 70 feet. Followed him around for twenty minutes or so. Also met Dr. Bill Bushing. Lots of Garibaldi and Calico bass here, a few sunken boats, and a J. Cousteau plaque. For the money, one of the best dives anywhere. P.S. I also like the boat ride and room rates. Going back this April.
09/13/2005 John Holland (Avg: 3.20 Review) - My buddy and I had not been diving in several years so after a couple of pool sessions we decided to go to Catalina. He had been there several times before and it was my first time. We took the Catalina Express over to Avalon which took a little over an hour. We brought all our gear minus tanks and weights which we rented from the van at the Casino, $10 for a tank and $5 for weights. From the Catalina Express pier we took a taxi to Casino pt. for $11. On the way back we shared a taxi with another group of divers and it only cost $6. After 3 dives we ate lunch at the dockside cafe, drank beers and listened to live music until it was time to leave. The diving was excellent but a bit crowded on the deck and in shallower water. I actually had someone bump into me at about 15'. But since it was a Saturday it was to be expected and the deeper we went, the less people we saw. One dive was to 60' and another to 80' to see the wreck of the Sue Jac; not much there really. The last dive was in 20' to 30' where there were lots of friendly fish. It was definitely worth the trip and I can't wait to return.
02/02/2005 Jason NYC (Avg: 4.60 Review) - There are plenty of boats that go out of Catalina, but we chose to dive in this protected and roped off marine park which couldn't have been much easier. Just suit up and head down the steps into the water. Catalina Divers Supply has an air fill van right at the Casino that is open most days during the in-season and only weekends during the off season. They also have some gear rental and snacks for purchase. We had all our own gear except for tanks and weights, so we never needed more than the van had to offer. Their web page has specifics on hours of operation and prices, which you should be sure to check, as it is and island and island time applies here, too. There are bathrooms on site, however, there are no showers and no rinsing facilities (unless you are rinsing their rental gear). I highly suggest buying a map of the dive park from Franko's Maps either before you go, or from CDS at the Casino. We found it very helpful and useful for dive planning. We had surprisingly good visibility given surge and surf that met us at the bottom of the steps. This was our first dive in Southern California and we were instantly awed by the amount and variety of life and the abundance of kelp (this sentence works best when spoken with a Cousteau accent ;-). Interestingly enough, our main objective on this dive was to find the Jacques Cousteau commemorative plaque in 35 feet of water. Highlights on this dive included: a very large bat ray and our first look at Garibaldi's and of course, kelp, which can best be described as ethereal and surreal (again, with the Cousteau accent). What can we say? Kelp, kelp, kelp, Garibaldi, kelp, Garibaldi, kelp bass, kelp, Garibaldi and a whole herd of blue banded goby. Starfish, kelp bass, opal eye, half moon, lingcod, sheephead, Garibaldi and sargo were present on almost every dive. Kelp forest diving must be experienced to appreciate it, but it felt to us as if the Northeast and the Caribbean conspired to create this truly unique environment. 61 degrees in January at depth, 67ft, 35 ft vis, light current. It was a good day to be diving dry as the surface interval proved to be breezy and chilly.
04/04/2004 Rob Turner (Avg: 3.62 Review) - Taking into consideration that the tide was down about noon, and after fighting through the kelp jungle and swimming out to an area I could dive down, it turned out to be a nice area to dive. Lots of fish and plant life in this area with rocks and sandy bottoms at 30 feet. Visibility was great. A great place for a first time diver.
03/29/2004 Don McWilliams (Avg: 4.50 Review) - Awesome site . Go midweek to avoid the crowds . A little pricey getting there ($50 ferry) but a great dive.
01/14/2004 Rob (Avg: 4.11 Review) - Amazing dive, 3 small wrecks as well as some various underwater history, some memorial plaques, etc. Simplest shore entry ever, and the vis was amazing for CA! All in all a terrific dive spot
12/16/2003 Edward J. Palumbo (Avg: 4.26 Review) - A ferry ride from away from Newport Beach, Dana Point or Long Beach, the community of Avalon is a wonderful escape from the crowded freeways of southern California for a week or a weekend. If you can't turn off the cell phone and relax here, you need prescription medication. Casino Point is a convenient stroll from most of the lodging and 3 of the dive shops in Avalon. Concrete stairs with a handrail were built in 1997 to facilitate diver entry/egress. From the moment you submerge, the marine life and photo ops begin. You will begin to find the broad spectrum of native marine life with a giant stride off the stairs. Viz varied from 30 to 75 ft during my visits (averaging 55-60'), deteriorating only with an approaching storm. Water temp in early October was 62 deg.F, and diving was excellent. If you enjoy a diver's vacation (eat-sleep-dive), you will not be disappointed with Avalon. The Casino is an easily recognizable landmark. Lodging expenses vary from the very affordable Hotel Atwater (expect no mints on your pillow in the morning) to romantic B&Bs with harbor views. Air refills are available from Catalina Scuba Luv's van, positioned at Casino Point. Rental carts are available on the pier ($10)to carry tanks, weight belts and accessories. If you live in L.A. or Orange County, or if you're a visiting diver, do not miss the opportunity to visit Avalon and dive Casino Point.
08/19/2003 Len Wittrock (Avg: 4.85 Review) - Year round this location is great; after all it's Catalina Island! The entrance in and out of the water couldn't be easier or more orderly, due to the stairs that lead right into the water. This spot is ideal for both classes and for the novice to advanced divers. The area is part of the larger Catalina marine reserve, which means you can't take anything but pictures. But this also means that the reef will continue to look great and you'll never feel like you've seen all there is here to enjoy. Look for one of the plaques at the bottom, just east and west of the stairs in approximately 20 o 30ft., one of them is dedicated to Jacque Cousteau! It's very easy and inexpensive to get to Catalina Island from the mainland. If you want to make the trip over and back from the island light, rent tanks and weights at the Casino. There's a truck from one of the dive outfits on that island that rent gear. You can rent complete packages or just what you need. Air fills are $5.00, Tank rentals and weights I believe are $10.00ea., and they accept plastic payment. It's a great spot so go and dive it, you'll be happy you did!!!
06/06/2003 Christian Schulz (Avg: 3.78 Review) - Casino Point is located right in front of the Casino Building (large round structure) on the opposite side of the harbor where the ferries dock. This popular dive spot features stairs leading down to water's edge and is roped off to keep boat traffic out. Depths within the park are as much as 90'. There are a number of interesting animals, wrecks, and lets not forget the giant kelp. As one diver from Texas said to me, "I can't believe how big the kelp is here!" You can see boat engines, tires, large spider crab, garibaldi, small and large wrecks, and many other indigenous creatures. Visibility is usually 50'+. The shore is steep and gets deep very quickly so snorkeling may not be great here. You might be better off at Lover's Cove on the opposite side of the harbor. I hear it's shallower there. In the warmer months it's not uncommon to find a lot of people here, but it's big enough to not feel cramped. Restaurants are within walking distance and rental equipment/air is about 50' away from your entry point. Make a day of it and your non-diver friends can shop in the picturesque little town. Just don't miss the boat or you might find yourself checking into the Pavilion Lodge. Don't ask me how I know ;)
06/03/2003 Terry at San Diego (Avg: 3.85 Review) - This is an outstanding beach dive site. Set up your gear on the wide lot next to the sea wall and stroll over to the STAIRS that lead right into the water. If the tide is in, its a little flop forward into the water kicks 5 times and drop into the 30 fsw of kelp, rocky coral bottom. Swimming out further and (with the Harbor Masters permission) you can dive a couple of nice little wrecks. Lots of macro and wide angle photo ops. During the weekend the local dive operator runs a fill station right at the dive site. Crowds at the sea wall can get hectic but once in the water you may not even see another diver. DIVE THIS SITE.
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Number of reviews for this site: 17