Santa Barbara Island is known for its large rookery where you can spend hours diving with sea lions. Photographers get more opportunities to photograph these animals up close here than any Channel Island. The playful, curious pups will pose and frolic in front of a diver’s lens as long as one can stay in the water.
The famous “Arch” is a dive to be remembered at Santa Barbara Island. The top of the reef just breaks the surface at low tide and the bottom of the arch lies in 40 FSW. One of the more unique underwater arches in the world it makes the perfect backdrop for photographers. In addition to the Arch, there are many offshore pinnacles that host shear walls and some of the largest clusters of purple hydrocoral found anywhere.
Lush kelp beds make this island a good location for spear fisherman. Calico bass, white sea bass, yellowtail, and an occasional tuna are among the types of game fish that can be found in the waters surrounding this island. As with all Channel Islands, lobster divers make this a prime destination during season.
Santa Barbara Island can be some of the best scuba diving found offshore but if conditions are rough there are not many areas to seek shelter. Because of its small size, ocean swells can wrap around the island, so planning a trip is weather dependant.