Overview

Top 10 Dive Locations on Earth!

California diving offers temperate water conditions in a variety of unique, cold and warmer water ecosystems, which makes our liveaboard dive adventures incredibly unique not only for North America, but the world.

Come aboard the “Queen of the Coast” M/V Vision and let us take you to incredible and remote dive locations.

We have options for every type of diver.

A diver is entering the water from the dive door on the Vision

Location Information

  • Departure Harbor: Santa Barbara Harbor, Santa Barbara, CA
    (Big Sur trips depart from Monterey, CA)
  • Destinations:
    • Northern Channel Islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and/or Santa Cruz Islands)
    • Gaviota Coast
    • Big Sur

Trip Specific Information

  • Season: Year-round
  • Experience Level: All levels (open-water certification required)
  • Minimum Number of Guests: 16
  • Maximum Number of Guests: 32
  • Minimum Age:  10 years old
Grapes and cheese and crackers

Standard Times

*these may change, check your trip itinerary for details.

  • Liveaboard
    • Check-In: 5:00 pm
    • CIEx Hosted Happy Hour w/ pupus and cocktails: 7:30p
    • Mandatory Orientation and Safety Briefing: 9:00 pm
    • Departure: varies based on first dive location
  • Single Day Trip
    • Check-In: 7:00 am
    • Departure: 8:00 am
  • Dives: 3-5 dives per day (plus optional night dives on liveaboard trips, conditions permitting)
  • Return to Santa Barbara: 5:00 pm on final day of your trip

Duration Note: Liveaboard dive trips depart the night before your first dive day. They include the same number of nights spent on the boat as the number of “Dive Days” listed in the trip name. You will sleep aboard the boat either at the dock or underway to the first dive site. Example: A trip with “3 Dive Days” includes 3 nights spent aboard, returning at the end of the third dive day.

The dive deck on the Vision is large enough for over 30 divers to get ready comfortably.

What’s Included

  • Free air fills (nitrox available for $25/day for nitrox-certified divers)
  • Accommodations in private bunks with pillows and light blankets
  • Night Dive (conditions permitting)
  • Divemaster and naturalists
  • 5-star galley meals, snacks, and desserts
  • Hot and cold beverages (you may bring your own alcoholic beverages for  after you are done diving)

How do we calculate ticket prices?

Ticket Costs

Book in Bulk and Save

Book – 15+ spaces get 15% off each ticket and confirm the departure of that trip.

Military/Nurse/First Responder: $25 off booking
use code respect25

Check out our NEW 1 Day Gaviota Coast Dive Trip

M/V Vision “Queen of the Coast”

The 80′ Vision has an overnight capacity of 30 people in 13 oversized bunks and 17 personal size bunks

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). One person per 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.

Learn about booking your bunk

Click play inside window.  Sound on is recommended. 

The 80’ Vision was built in 1985 in Oxnard, CA

Cruising Speed – 10 knots

Compressors:

  • Ingersoll-Rand 10T-2@18 C.F.M.
  • Ingersoll-Rand 15T-4@21 C.F.M.
  • Capable of filling to 3500 P.S.I.
  • Nitrox Available
Captain Ian of M/V Vision

Captain Ian Higgins

Ian has been the Captain of the Vision for 6 years, working as a mate previously. You will quickly learn that Ian has a quiet determination to slay halibut and capture the biggest bug.

The crew of the Vision.

Destinations

Our dive trips encompass all of Channel Islands, Gaviota Coast, and Big Sur.

Northern Channel Islands

The Northern Channel Islands are San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa.

These four islands offer a diverse set of wildlife, geology, and diving opportunities. They are within the Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary.

Santa Cruz Island is the largest and Anacapa is the smallest. Learn more about the Northern Channel Islands.

San Miguel Island

The remoteness of San Miguel, combined with its offshore location and shifting weather patterns, can make diving this island dependent on conditions. However, San Miguel has some of the most spectacular diving found off the coast of California. San Miguel offers a wide variety of dive site topography, including offshore pinnacles, walls, and expansive kelp forest reefs. The abundance of marine life at San Miguel is striking compared to the other islands, and the fishing and hunting at San Miguel is spectacular. Halibut, lingcod, schools of rockfishes, and nudibranchs galore inhabit these waters. More varieties of pinnipeds can be seen here than any other Channel Island. A nice day of diving at San Miguel is about as good as it gets.

Popular dive sites include Wyckoff Ledge, Prince Island, Judith Rock, Richardson Rock, Simonton Cove, Wilson’s Rock, the foul hole, Skyscraper pinnacle, and Castle Rock. Weather permitting, we like to spend the night in Cuyler Harbor, one of the most spectacular anchorages in the Channel Islands, or at Tyler Bight near the elephant seals.

Learn more about San Miguel Island.

Santa Rosa Island

California divers began flocking to Santa Rosa in the 1970’s and 80’s and it has remained a popular diving destination ever since. Talcott Shoals, which lies off the northwest section of the island, is a large plateau reef with extensive kelp forests that offers various terrain for divers. The shipwreck of the Aggie, which lays in 25 to 50 feet of water along a ridge, is a highlight. The east end of Santa Rosa has a wonderful assortment of pinnacles that are covered in Corynactis (strawberry anemone), rockfishes, and scallops. Weather permitting, we often spend the night in Bechers Bay, a large sandy anchorage overlooking the windswept island. 

Learn more about Santa Rosa Island.

Santa Cruz Island

The diving at Santa Cruz Island is probably the most diverse of all eight Channel Islands. The island bisects both warm southerly and colder northern currents, creating diverse habitats for many different species. Usually, the southern side has warmer water temperatures compared to the northern side. As the largest of California’s Channel Islands, Santa Cruz has a wide variety of different dive spots, each with its own unique characteristics.

The northwest section of the island is volcanic with steep, rocky cliffs. It is home to some of the world’s largest sea caves. The southeast section is flatter and composed of large plateaus with thick kelp beds. Santa Cruz offers more places to find good diving during rough weather periods than any other island, due to its size and many coves. Seals, sea lions, bat rays, and schools of fish are common sights while scuba diving along the shores.

Learn more about Santa Cruz Island.

Planning

Expectations on a typical dive trip

Boarding

Boarding begins at 1700 (5:00pm) where you will begin to meet some of your crew as they help you get comfortable onboard.

2-4 Dive Sites & 4-5 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 typically 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. Re-boarding 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, the boat is moved to a new site after one or two dives. The galley prepares a hot lunch around noon, with additional snacks put out after the third dive of the day. After snack, a fourth dive is available, and depending on the weather conditions, we can sometimes make a fifth dive. 

At the end of the day, we anchor in a cove for dinner and dessert. Conditions permitting, a night dive will be optional. Alcoholic beverages may be brought on the trip (there is no alcohol for sale on the boat) and may be enjoyed after you have finished diving for the day. The Vision is equipped with a full shower room with hot, fresh water showers, and has 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

After your last dive, 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. Enjoy 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

Pre-Trip Planning

How to pack for liveaboard on the Vision:

  • Recommended:
    • Bring bedding for your bunk – we suggest a sleeping bag or warm blanket (we provide you with a pillow and light blanket)
    • Towels and a warm dive jacket
    • Warm clothing – bring layers as temperatures can change rapidly
    • Personal toiletries
    • Motion sickness medicine and personal medications
  •  Optional:
    • Fishing gear, spear guns, or other hunting/harvesting equipment
    • Fishing license with ocean enhancement stamp (and report card if hunting lobster during season)
    • Binoculars (great for whale sightings and bird watching)
    • Adult beverages in coolers with your own ice

Diving Equipment

Rentals – Rent SCUBAPro dive equipment at the Santa Barbara Dive Center which is at the Santa Barbara Landing where the Vision departs from.

In addition to your dive gear set up, please bring:

  • Required:
    • Certification card (we verify this at check-in)
    • Visual and audible safety signaling devices: surface marker buoy (SMB) and DiveAlert or whistle
    • If you wish to night dive, 2 underwater lights and a tank beacon (or chemical
  • Recommended:
    • Save-A-Dive kit (e.g., extra fin strap, mask strap, o-rings, silicon, tools, etc.) – come prepared to fix your own gear in the event something breaks

ok iconCIEx Dive Policies

We strive to be the safest dive boats in the world.

Our crew are trained to prevent and respond to dive emergencies. We carry oxygen and an AED for emergencies, and we drill regularly on the use of these. We would prefer not to use these and so we dive by the following 4 rules:

  1. Recreation diving only – 130 ft. max depth on ALL dives.
  2. No decompression diving.
  3. Dive with a buddy.
  4. Stick to your dive plan.

Divemasters on deck

To maintain a safe dive deck, CIEx has a 15:1 diver to divemaster ratio. Divemasters maintain a vigilant watch from the dive deck at all times. We keep a deckhand as the dive assistant on the dive deck to assist with tank fills and gear issues.

A divemaster or crew member will greet each diver as they return to the swim platform from their dive. Crew are happy to help with gear and facilitating you re-boarding the boat.

Dive Times

When dive gates are open, divers may enter the water. Once all divers are in, the dive gates close for the dive site. Dives are typically about 60 minutes in duration. We may extend gate times at dives where we may stay for more than one dive.

Night Dives

By request we will do our best to accommodate night dives, taking weather and overnight anchorage requirements into consideration. We require the following for all night dives:

  1. At least 4 divers who wish to participate in the night dive are required. 
  2. A primary and secondary light must be in working condition to enter the water, no exceptions. 
  3. All tanks must have a beacon or chemical glow stick attached during the dive.
  4. No scooters on night dives.
  5. Divers must dive in pairs (buddy diving).

Scooters

Divers using scooters must carry an surface marker buoy (SMB) and sound making device.

Freedivers

Freedivers must use either a float with a surface buoy or carry a deployable surface marker buoy (SMB), and carry a watch.

Air Fills and Nitrox

We provide unlimited air fills onboard during your trip. We require to be in current hydrostatic testing.

using an o2 sensor to gauge pressure and volumeIf you have nitrox certification, nitrox can be purchased ahead of time or at departure at check in. Nitrox is $25/day/diver. We fill at 32% oxygen. All nitrox divers must check their oxygen percent level in their tanks and dive plan accordingly after fills. We provide a sniffer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need boat transportation?

No. All CIEx trips are vessel supported and include boat transportation to and from your island destination. 

What dive certifications do I need for this trip?

You need a current open water certification to dive on this trip.

What is the age limit?

The minimum age is 10 years.

What are your dive restrictions?

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!

How many people can sleep in an oversized bunk?

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.

How difficult is the diving?

Our trips typically offer dive options for all experience levels. We will be diving at sites with various depth potentials. Some sites may require the ability to dive in relatively deep water and there can, at times, be strong currents, though we strive for the best conditions we can find. California diving often means cooler water temperatures and divers should come equipped with suitable wetsuits or drysuits.

Can we land on the islands and hike?

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.

Do you offer Nitrox Fills?

Yes, Nitrox is $25/day for divers with enriched air cards.

Why are your trips so much more expensive than other dive trips in the area?

A great question that we’re happy to answer in more detail.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. We have added an additional crew member to enhance the overall safety of the operations.
  4. 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!
  5. We have increased the quality of our food and accommodations so that you can expect a world class experience on all trips!
CHOOSE YOUR DIVE ADVENTURE

Testimonials

tanner
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

1st Sea Kayaking Experience

Amazing experience led by Garrett and his team to the Channel Islands. I had travelled from Hawaiʻi for this 4 day adventure. I'm not a diver (they had a ton of opportunities for them) but was able to free-dive and go kayaking. I had never kayaking on the ocean like this but felt incredibly confident with the instruction from the guides and crew. Incredibly competent and friendly, the trip felt completely about the participant experience. Kayaking around and seeing all the Harbor & Elephant seals and sea lions was an amazing experience. Their knowledge on the water, the wildlife, and especially the history of the place made for an experience I've been recommending to friends since the trip. Great grub too!
5/5stars

- | Google

mark r
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Kayaking Channel Islands

Did this with my wife and 4 of our friends. Drove up from the IE , 2 hour drive, well worth it! What a great crew! Very knowledgeable about the island and surrounding area. Going in and out of the caves was awesome, though challenging at times but that made it even more enjoyable. If you are considering this trip, DO IT! We WILL do it again.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

david c
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Anacapa Caves

Great outfit. Very professional guides, safety and COVID conscious. I went on a trip to Anacapa Island in mid-November. The cruise out was pretty quick. The wildlife on the way was excellent. The caves and rocks on Anacapa were wonderful to play in. I will return again when the Gray Whales begin to head back up the coast. I highly recommend them.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

Chuyên L.
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Channel Island National Park

Channel Island National Park so amazing and beautiful places. And The Wild Blue Adventurer was professional. We loved it . Thanks You so Mụch for get we the nice trip .
5/5stars

- | Yelp

john s
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Father and Son day

I had an epic day with my son in late July 2020. Our guide Phil was a UCSB grad, marine biologist who was in area, as his normal guiding in Antarctica was limited due to Covid. The boat staff was knowledgeable, friendly and worked hard to make our day both enjoyable and safe. Only 8 people on a boat that can hold 30-40 and they were very Covid compliant. Masks in the boat at all times (except lunch - bring your own food) and outdoor seating but could take off masks in the double kayaks. Really easy and felt safe and compliant. 10 out of 10 and I'm a tough critic.
5/5stars

- | Yelp

yelp
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

5 Night Liveaboard Trip

Recently went on a 5 night, 6 day liveaboard trip off the Truth. The crew and captains were all very nice and welcoming. The boat has great safety protocols to ensure us divers were safe throughout the entirety of this trip. Chef Tim was fantastic! I have never had better quality food on a boat trip, and he has definitely set the bar high. We had amazing homemade dishes almost every meal, he had vegetarian and vegan options as well. I would 100% recommend this boat to anyone interested in planning a multi-day dive trip to the Channel Islands.

5/5stars

- | Yelp

jelly fish
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Kayaking Anacapa Arch

We had a wonderful time kayaking through the sea caves and Anacapa Arch.  All the on board staff were excellent.  We will definitely come back and do a different tour with them.

5/5stars

- | Yelp

go blue icon
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Great Family Day Adventure

We had the BEST first time kayaking experience with Blue Ocean. Garret and his crew are great! The Anacapa tour is something special... we all loved it! It was a perfect day for our family. We highly recommend!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

Another great day kayaking with Blue Ocean

We had a great day at Anacapa with Garrett, Jordan and the rest of the crew. We paddled for about 3 hours but it is not too strenuous, so if you are wondering if you can do it, you probably can! Thank you, Blue Ocean Crew!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

HIGHLY RECOMMEND

LOVED IT! Truly an amazing experience that I will never forget. Awesome crew, wonderful day, all around great time. I hope to do it again some day!
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor

go blue icon
Dive California and the Channel Islands Sandbox
Rated 4.9/5 based on 11 customer reviews

A great time!

Even though it was a foggy day, we had a great time. The boat crew was great and friendly. Garrett the guide was knowledgeable and friendly. He even saved a pelican-"Birdie Sanders" .
5/5stars

- | TripAdvisor