Scuba Diving the Channel Islands – Day 1: Overnight Departure

Thanks so much for your read and please comment with any pointers and feedback – we love to know how we can improve and what we’re doing well!

Kiana and I recently had the absolute pleasure of spending three days living on a boat and putting around the ruggedly beautiful Channel Islands off the coast of California. For a few years now I have been longingly browser-window shopping for live-aboard trips that I would love to do, including the shallow seas of Thailand, the expansive Great Barrier Reef of Australia, or the pinnacle of our aspirations, the Galapagos, with its spectacular marine megafauna and notorious finches. The wall of my bedroom is lovingly adorned with cutouts my favorite critter from countless dive magazines, and it is fair to say that the pictures provide the majority of the personality to my room (just look at this vibrant chap, the Mandarin Dragonet). Anyways, funding even one of those dive trips would cripple our savings and reduce our diets to Cup o’ Noodles and boiled eggs for a couple months, so for the moment we are content with sticking to our ‘hood of Southern California. I booked the trip through Diver Dan’s, which is based out of Santa Clara, CA, and employs a friendly, experienced, and helpful staff; Jeremy Theade in particular.Diver_DansFB

Day 1: En Route (and a quick blurb about Pete’s love of Crocs), On the Alley, & Aboard

En Route – The adventure began on a Wednesday afternoon when I excused myself from work early, picked up Kiana and our dive gear, and then sallied forth to one of our very favorite cities: Santa Barbara. Fortunately, the drive was uneventful, save for a quick pit stop to the Camarillo Crocs store to pick up some new kicks. This will not be the last time I mention Crocs, as they are undeniably the most comfortable, accommodating, convenient, versatile, and durable, contrary to popular belief. I promise I am not getting a penny to say any of that – it’s just extremely endearing that one can spill spaghetti on them, jump into the ocean with them, or subject them to any other treatment that would render any normal shoe much less comfortable/wearable, and after a quick rinse they are immediately ready for the next misadventure. Most people do not share my high esteem for these fine shoes, and the winds of Croc ridicule have filled our sails, expeditiously carrying us as far as the opposite side of the planet, and I guarantee future Croc-nadoes will fuel countless adventures to come.

The drive up to and through Los Angeles from Orange County is nothing too special (unless you are enchanted by tall buildings, smog, hot traffic, swampy underpants, and omnipresent concrete), but once you enter Ventura the magical scenery really begins. Summiting the final mountain before descending into the coastal cities is always a cathartic experience, likely due to leaving the oppressive and stuffy freeways behind for the wide open spaces of Ventura County, ripe with fresh ocean breezes and farmland.


Arrival & Lunch – We arrived in Santa Barbara around 2 PM and parked near Stearn’s Wharf, which is home to some splendid restaurants that we make a point of patronizing each time we visit. Our favorite is called On The Alley, which has some of the best fish and chips we’ve ever tasted on United States soil, and their pies and salads are nothing to scoff at either. As its name suggests, the restaurant is comfortably situated in a wide alley (I would argue a narrow thoroughfare), which serves as a wind tunnel once the sun starts to fall, so be sure to dress warmly.

On the Alley editedfish n chips edited

After satisfying our hunger, we took a stroll around the marina to scope out all the boats and decide which one we would one day sail around the world with.


Brews, Meds, and Wheelbarrows – We suddenly realized we had forgotten anti-nausea medication, so we took a trip down State Street to find the nearest CVS, but Santa Barbara Brewing Company caught our eye on the way, so we stopped in. The interior was really great and the ambiance was fun, but neither of us were impressed with the beers; my stouts lacked flavor and Kiana’s sours tasted a little overripe. We paid our bill and skidaddled to CVS and back to the boat, which was beginning to board.  Fortunately for us, our ship’s crew provided huge plastic wheelbarrows to transport our gear in, and even with those at our disposal, we needed a few trips.

Pete rolling barrel editedThe Vision edited

Night One – Once aboard the Vision (the 80′, diesel-powered flagship of Truth Aquatics), we assembled our dive gear in preparation for the next morning. After organizing our gear, we transported our luggage to our bunks, got situated, and went back up to deck for our debriefing. The captain introduced the boat crew, recited the ship’s safety features, and informed us of our expected itinerary for the days to come. Directly afterwards, we prepared for bed in anticipation of waking up surrounded by endless ocean. Kiana and I both slept like rocks that night. It may have been the seasickness pills, but we suspect it was the gentle rocking of the boat as it made for Santa Catalina Island.

Please continue reading about our trip in our Day 2 article.

Thanks so much for your read and please comment with any pointers and feedback – we love to know how we can improve and what we’re doing well!

Happy Travels,

Pete and Kiana

We have received no compensation to write this post – all opinions are our own.

If you are interested in learning to scuba dive… we highly recommend Beach Cities Scuba; they have a highly experienced staff who really bend over backwards to accommodate peoples’ schedules, and often offer Groupon deals, especially during summer. They are the organization I have risen from Open Water Diver to Dive Instructor with, and have thoroughly enjoyed every step of the journey, as well as making some fantastic friends and contacts in the industry.


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