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5 Reasons We Love California Kelp Diving


Guest Post by PADI

The long stalks of kelp anchored on the ocean floor reach up to the surface like trees. When the seaweed-trees are grouped together, they make an underwater forest. The forest supports a population of marine life and makes an arena for divers.

There are many reasons we love kelp diving; here are a few!

kelp forest

Swimming through a kelp forest feels like flying

Doesn’t everyone have flying dreams? It will be hard not to raise your arms above your head, Superman-style as you swim through a kelp forest.

You can interact with sea lions and seals

In an encounter similar to running into a big dog at the park, divers can make eye contact with furry eared seals. If you’re kelp diving in Catalina Island, you could see a Pacific Harbor Seal. They love to look at their reflection in the dome port of your underwater camera.

A California scuba diver peering through kelp fronds while kelp diving.

There are great photography opportunities

The way the light rays divide when filtered through the kelp leaves can make stunning photographs. Off the coast of California, where photographers are fortunate to have good visibility, one can use kelp as a backdrop for stunning wide-angle shots.

The location is wonderful.

There’s a reason there are so many songs about California. The warm sunshine and the Pacific Ocean can be intoxicating topside and underwater. Whether you’re diving in Catalina, Monterey Bay or La Jolla Cove in San Diego, you’re sure to enjoy it; California diving never disappoints.

A jellyfish swimming near kelp in California.

There is a great diversity of marine life.

A Black Sea Bass sighting would be a treat because these giant fish are making a comeback after being on the brink of extinction. Sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and sometimes whales not only eat the kelp, they also rely on the kelp forest for refuge. Invertebrates like sea stars and urchins cover the kelp forest floor. Garibaldi, the state fish of California, provide a bright orange pop of color on the otherwise greenish blue landscape.

If you love kelp diving, you probably dive in a drysuit. Kelp thrives in water temperature between 5-20 degrees Celsius / 42-72 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re looking to try kelp diving for the first time, check out the PADI AWARE Fish Identification Course. This course will help you identify species unique to the kelp forest ecosystem.


Contiki and PADI, the world’s leading scuba diver training organization, have partnered up and want to add a little “depth” to your travel adventures. Why? Because travelers like you love to travel the world and seek adventure! Find more info at

PADI Divers carry the most respected and sought after scuba diving credentials in the world. No matter where you choose to dive, your PADI certification card will be recognized and accepted. In fact, on most scuba diving adventures, you’ll be surrounded by other PADI Divers (23 million PADI scuba certifications to date) who made the same certification choice you did – to train and dive with PADI.