Southern Islands Five Day Dive Adventure!
Come dive the warm waters of the Southern Channel Islands. Visit world-class dive spots like Farnsworth Banks, Ship Rock, Seal Cove and Pyramid Reef await. Our flagship vessel, the Vision, takes you to remote world-class dive sites at these lesser-visited islands and provides a liveaboard experience unequaled in California.
Our Southern Islands 5 Day Dive trip is an epic adventure perfect for divers seeking all that Santa Catalina, San Clemente and Santa Barbara Island have to offer.
- Departure Harbor: Santa Barbara Harbor. Santa Barbara
- Destination: Santa Catalina, San Clemente, Santa Barbara, and San Nicolas Islands. Which islands are visited is condition dependent.
- Make the Vision your home for an unparalleled 5-day trip full of excellent diving, great food, beautiful scenery, and abundant wildlife.
Trip Specific Information
- Season: May to October
- Experience Level: Intermediate
- Minimum Number of Guests: 16
- Maximum Number of Guests: 30
- Minimum Age: 10 years old
- Check-In: 7:30 pm
- Briefing: 9:00 pm
- Departure: 9:30 pm
- Dives:3-4 dives per day plus optional night dives
- Return to Santa Barbara: 5:00 pm on fifth day of trip
- Free air fills
- Accommodations in private bunks with pillows and blankets.
- Night Dive (conditions permitting)
- Divemaster and naturalists
- 3 meals a day & snacks
- Hot and cold beverages
How do we calculate ticket prices?
Meet your crew at the Sea Landing in the Santa Barbara Harbor (at 301 West Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA).
You will board the Vision at 7:30 pm to load gear and check in with our crew. A mandatory briefing will occur at 9:00 pm, and all loading of personal items should be completed before then. All guests must be present for the briefing. After the briefing, and once the manifest has been signed, passengers are not allowed to leave the vessel. Weather permitting, we plan on departing right after the briefing at 9:30 pm.
Day 1: Wake up early to the sight of Santa Barbara Island and the smell of breakfast. After the dive briefing from the Divemasters, get ready for your first dive of the day. We will dive sites where huge Black Sea Bass are often found meandering through the kelp forest. We will make 3-4 day dives and spend the night here for a night dive.
Day 2: Early in the morning the crew will move the Vision to San Clemente Island to dive in the authorized zone/s depending on what the US Navy allows. Enjoy 3-4 dives and a night dive at San Clemente Island.
Day 3: Start your day diving the world-famous Farnsworth Reef off of Catalina Island. Farnsworth is a grouping of underwater seamounts and pinnacles in 60 to 130 feet of water. This is one of the most incredible underwater experiences in the world. After this dive, we will begin our way down to Cat Harbor.
Day 4: Dive Ship Rock, Bird Rock, and a few other surrounding spots in the warm and clear waters off of Catalina Island. After dinner, we will begin our journey back to Santa Cruz Island for the final day of diving before heading home.
Day 5: The volcanic cliffs of Santa Cruz Island await on our final day. We will choose between a few dive spots in the Scorpion Ranch marine protected areas before heading up to the waters of middle Santa Cruz Island for some hunting opportunities. After 3 dives, we will begin on our final leg home and will return to Santa Barbara Harbor around 5 pm.
Check-in at 7:30 pm. Mandatory briefing at 9:00 pm. Departure at 9:30 pm.
Once the mandatory briefing has occurred, passengers are not permitted to leave the boat.
2-3 Dive Sites & 3-4 Tank Fills Per Day, Plus Optional Night Dives
Wake up at anchor to the sound of the ocean lapping against the Vision’s hull. Enjoy a freshly cooked breakfast and hot coffee or tea as you get ready to dive! Hot breakfast is typically served from approximately 7:00 am to 9:00 am, and continental snacks are left out until about 10:00 am.
Dive gates open around 8 am after we get set up at the first dive site. Typical entry is a giant stride from either our port and starboard gates or the bow gate. If necessary, you may also enter off the rear swim step. Reboarding the boat after your dive at the submerged swim step for easy access up the stairs with your tank. Air and nitrox tank fills will be handled by our crew during your surface interval.
Typically, after two dives, the boat is moved to a new site during lunch. The galley prepares a hot lunch around noon, with additional snacks put out after the third dive of the day. Depending on the weather conditions, we may add a third dive spot.
At the end of the day, we’ll anchor in a cove for dinner and dessert. Conditions permitting, a night dive will be optional. Alcoholic beverages may be brought on the trip and enjoyed after you have finished diving for the day. The Vision is equipped with a full shower room and hot, fresh water showers, and a wetsuit drying rack. In the evening, enjoy watching bioluminescence and the many fishes and pinnipeds that gather around our side-mounted squid light!
Return to Santa Barbara
After diving has concluded on the fifth day of the trip, we will begin our return trip across the channel to Santa Barbara, which will take approximately 2.5 hours. We will likely dive at Anacapa or Santa Cruz Island for our final dive of the trip. We will keep our eyes peeled for whales and dolphins in the channel. You are welcome to enjoy adult beverages on the crossing back to the mainland. Relax on the sundeck to close out a beautiful few days of diving!
Estimated return time to Santa Barbara Harbor is 5:00 pm
After your third tank fill, we will prepare the boat for the return trip to Santa Barbara, approximately 2.5 hours. We will keep our eyes peeled for whales and dolphins in the channel. You are welcome to enjoy an adult beverage or two on the sundeck as we cross back to the mainland and close out a beautiful few days of diving!
Estimated arrival time in Santa Barbara Harbor is 5:00pm
We are currently building our locally inspired menu but here is an example of what you may expect from your galley crew onboard the Vision.
- Fresh fruit
- Granola and yogurt w/ fixings and local jams
- Hot breakfast sandwich or burrito (made to order)
- beef burgers OR veggie patty
- Chicken salad wraps
- Island coleslaw & homemade potatoe salad
- Organic salads from Tutti Frutti Farms
- Homemade hummus and veggies
- Buffalo chicken wings
- Chips and homemade guacamole
- Sushi rolls
- Tri-Tip w/ grilled veggies
- Local fish tacos & ceviche
- Garlic cheesy potatoes
- Locally sourced salad bar
- Freshly made desert
Return Trip Snack
- Fresh baked cookies
Beverages Served All Day
- Hot tea and coffee
- Soda bar (soda, juice, water, seltzer)
- Ginger iced tea
You may bring alcoholic beverages to enjoy after all diving is complete. There is absolutely no drinking before participating in a night dive.
Accommodations are in our comfortable bunk room. We supply each bunk with:
- 1 Fleece Blanket
- 1 Medium soft pillow with pillow case
The bunk room is air-conditioned to 68-70 degrees at all times. We recommend bringing a sleeping bag or additional blanket.
Personal vs Oversized Bunks
- You may choose an oversized bunk for an additional $50 (limited quantity). Couples need only select 1 oversized bunk.
- Each person will be assigned a bunk.
- Each bunk has a privacy curtain and a reading light.
Personal electronic devices may not be charged in the bunk room at any time.
The Southern Channel Islands are Santa Catalina, San Clemente, San Nicolas, and Santa Barbara.
These four islands offer a diverse set of wildlife, geology and diving opportunities. From warm waters to remote offshore diving, the southern islands offer something for everyone
Santa Catalina Island is the largest and Santa Barbara is the smallest. Learn more about the Southern Channel Islands here.
Catalina Island is well known for its calm, clear, and warm waters. Ease of access makes Catalina the most popular channel island for divers. Verdant kelp forest full of garibaldi, yellowtail, kelp bass, white seabass, giant black sea bass, and leopard sharks abound in the offshore waters of Catalina. Purple hydrocoral and abundant nudibranchs are found at Farnsworth Pinnacles. Catalina offers a wide variety of incredible diving for both newly certified and experienced divers.
Learn more about Catalina Island here.
San Clemente Island is home to the clearest, warmest waters in the Channel Islands. Giant kelp beds, schools of fish, coral banks, deep pinnacles and shear walls make diving here unforgettable. In the summer, waters can reach over 7o degrees. World-class diving spots are located at both the east and west ends of the island.
Learn more about San Clemente Island here.
Even though Santa Barbara Island is the smallest Channel Island, it is home to some of the most incredible dive sites within the Channel Islands. With magnificent underwater arches, plentiful purple hydro coral, and a large sea lion rookery, Santa Barbara offers divers a rich wildlife experience. The unique underwater formations are great for photographers and the abundant game is ideal for hunters.
Read more about Santa Barbara Island here.
Pre Trip Planning
What to Bring with you?
- Soft, packable duffle bags for clothing and skin or scuba equipment
- Warm clothing – bring layers as temperatures change rapidly
- Low heeled rubber soled shoes for on board the boat
- Binoculars (great for whale sightings and bird watching)
- Motion sickness medicine & personal medications
- Swimsuit & towels
- Personal toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
- Sunscreen-We prefer reef safe sunscreen. Learn what makes sunscreen reef safe here.
- Sunglasses, hat and other sun protection.
- Small backpack
- Alcoholic Beverages (if desired)
All dive equipment can be reserved at the Sea Landing Dive Center next to Truth & Vision in the harbor
- Mask, snorkel, gloves, booties, and fins
- Dive Certification Card
- 7mm wetsuit or drysuit with hood (water temperatures are typically mid 60’s in summer and mid 50’s in winter).
- Tank and BCD
- Weight belt and weights
- Regulator with gauges
- SMB (Surface Marker Buoy) & DiveAlert or whistle
- Dive computer (highly recommended)
- U/W light and chemical light (Cyalume) if you plan to make night dives
- Save-A-Dive kit may be helpful (extra fin strap, mask strap, o-rings, silicon, tools, etc.)
Frequently Asked Questions
No. All CIEx trips are vessel supported and include boat transportation to and from your island destination.
You need a current open water certification to dive on this trip.
The minimum age is 12 years.
At each dive site we open the dive doors and check each diver off as they exit to the water. The dive doors are open for 90 minutes at each site. All divers must return to the boat at the set time or they risk being asked to sit out the next dive. We do not limit your dive time, but we strongly encourage each diver to stay in the limits of no decompression. Between each dive is a mandatory 60 minute surface interval.
Each diver is responsible for their own safety and their buddy. CIEx keeps a deck master and a divemaster on each trip along with a dive assistant that helps with gear and tank fills. The CIEx dive crew reserve the right to check dive computers and make recommendations for diver safety at any time.
CIEx is committed to running the safest dive boats in the world, thank you for helping us with that!
Each person is assigned one bunk. Our night watch crew is tasked to focus on the safety of the passengers on board the vessel at all times.
This trip is for advanced divers. We will be diving at sites with various depth potentials and possible strong currents
We understand that years of experience and recent experience are two different things. So if this is your first time diving in 5 years or more, we suggest you start with our Discover 2 Day/2 Night trip where you can brush up on your skills in more controlled environments and the help of an instructor or divemaster.
This trip does not include landing or hiking on Santa Cruz Island. If you want to hike on the Channel Islands, we recommend that you book a 4-Day Expedition Trip with us! Because you are not paying a National Park entrance fee, you cannot take advantage of the National Park’s terrestrial areas.
Yes, we offer Nitrox fills for certified divers. Unlimited Nitrox fills are $25 a day.
A great question that we’re happy to answer in more detail.
- The western islands of the Northern Channel Islands are more than 80 nautical miles from Santa Barbara Harbor. This is a great deal of fuel, much more than the eastern islands from Ventura and Oxnard.
- Crew costs are going up. Minimum wage in California $14/hour and will be $15/hour next year. Most of our crew is paid more than that and is required to be on duty for a 12 hour period at at time. This is easily the largest expense of running these boats.
- We have added an additional crew member to enhance the overall safety of the operations.
- Maintaining boats has always been expensive, but if you’ve been to the hardware store lately, you’ll agree that things are more expensive now than ever before. Imagine what that means for boat parts!
- We have increased the quality of our food and accommodations so that you can expect a world class experience on all trips!
-Allyson Arons | TripAdvisor
-Tad | TripAdvisor
-Alicia | TripAdvisor
-Denise W | TripAdvisor