Disguised in wetsuits, flippers, and diving masks, humans almost seem indistinguishable from the scores of aquatic life that thrive among the San Diego coastline. In the water, curious sea lions tug playfully at divers' fins, and thick stalks of kelp wave like Queen Elizabeth telling the gathered crowd to go home already. With access to five separate sites in which to see such wonders, the guides at San Diego Excellent Adventures tailor their adventures—whether snorkeling, diving, or paddling—around the experience level of each tour group, ensuring an easy assimilation to undersea life.
During guided dives along La Jolla Shores, swimmers peer in on frolicking creatures such as lobsters, octopuses, and leopard sharks, and standup paddleboards grant access to Mission Bay's shoreline views previously seen only by terribly lost Venetian gondoliers. Currently the largest manmade bay in the country, Mission is known for its calm waters suited to beginners just learning to explore the ocean.
Over the course of its 22-year existence, Ocean Experience Surf School has helped somewhere in the neighborhood of over 15,000 students to safely discover and refine their passion for watersports. Students 6 or older hop atop surfboards, paddleboards, and kayaks for on-the-water practice under the care of experienced instructors during private lessons and group classes.
The local press and community showers the school's companion retail outlet with praise, which won both the Best Surf Shop and Best Skate Shop in CityBeat's 2010 Readers' Poll. In an effort to give back to the community, the organization runs an afterschool sports program offering surfing and skateboarding lessons to kids up to 18 years old and adults with a note from a certified kindergarten teacher.
A colony of seals suns itself on the rock ledges of La Jolla Cove while seabirds preen themselves a few feet above. Below, bright-orange garibaldi fish and california spiny lobsters scuttle about the cove’s reefs and kelp beds. This biologically rich landscape sets the stage for La Jolla Dive & Snorkel’s scuba-diving lessons, which range from beginner discovery classes to dive-master-certification courses that adhere to the training standards of the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI). They also lead four shore dives to various sites, such as one located near The Marine Room restaurant, where the shallow reefs and smell of lobster bisque attract gentle leopard sharks in the early summer. Along with scuba diving, instructors also teach students how to strut in fashionable snorkeling gear and how to stoically gaze into the horizon during standup-paddleboarding tours.
At La Jolla Water Sports, guides undergo extensive training before captaining snorkeling excursions into the calm, crystalline waters of the Pacific. The experts escort 6 to 12 patrons at a time on shark tours) of the shallow, sandy flats where small-mouthed leopard sharks up to 5 feet long lounge on their easy chairs of sand. Snorkeling tours of the La Jolla cove grant participants, including beginners and kids, a siren's-eye view of rock formations, underwater flora, and marina critters including garibaldi fish, sea cucumbers, anemones, and starfish. The most action-packed of La Jolla Water Sports's offerings are the spearfishing tours in which leaders expound on the importance of safety and proper form as customers skewer fish before schlepping them home for dinner or as treats for pet grizzly bears.
Paddle Dive San Diego takes paddleboarding beyond just the board and paddle. It uses the simplicity of these two items and creates a wealth of different aquatic activities. The outfit's special boards allow paddlers to haul along their snorkel or scuba equipment as they skim out to a favorite dive spot, where they can explore the undersea sights or check in with their extended mermaid family. Those who choose remain atop their board can enroll in entry-level and advanced classes or take a tour of the surrounding waterways, including Mission Bay, Oceanside Harbor, and La Jolla. A full body workout, paddleboarding has become a mainstay for avid exercisers, who build muscles paddling and even perform yoga exercises while on their board.
The staff at Unified Team Diving can transform someone who's never scuba dived before into a professional diver with their expansive menu of classes and courses. In their onsite heated swimming pool, instructors orient students to the world of breathing and exploring underwater. Combined with classroom sessions, they can award their students various certifications such as recreational diver, technical diver, diving instructor, and overhead diver, which includes cave diving. They conduct their training dives at the nearby La Jolla shores, which offer shallow wrecks, walls, and kelp for students to explore.