Refugio


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Posted by JRM on August 10, 2001 at 11:30:11:

In Reply to: Beach Diving posted by Darren on August 10, 2001 at 09:38:45:

I dive the SB area a lot, since it's where my wife is from, and my inlaws still live. If you're into books, call Anacapa Dive Center, and they have (still I think) a bunch of copies of an older diving guide to Santa Barbara. There's a ton of great stuff in there.

If you're going to dive refugio, get ready for a swim. The area that Dalia mentions is OK, but it's a lot further than 100 yards. As you look out towards the water, you'll see a curling break to your left (north/west). Usually there's surfers. Straight ahead there's a line of kelp way the heck out there, and to the right (south/east), theres an open gap, and then the kelp starts up again. The best diving to be found is actually around the point to the right, but you'll want a boat or a kayak (trust me, DO NOT try to swim it, especially in SCUBA).

I was at Refugio last year, and got a chance to freedive with a decent sized Sunfish (Mola Mola). It stayed with me for about 20 minutes. Refugio is great for flatties if you like to hunt. Although the FAG warden in the black jimmy can be a bit zealous. He seems to think all spearos are lobster poachers until proven otherwise. He went through our entire van one time, looking for bugs. So if you carry a cannon, prepare for a bit of harrasment.

Better than Refugio for diving is the mystical area known as Tijiguas. Just about all the locals I know dive what the call Tijiguas, and every one of them is in a different place. It's basically a shelf reef that runs from past Coal Oil point almost all the way to Refugio. Just park anywhere along the 101 you see cars, cross the tracks (carefully, the trains smoke through there), and down any of the access trails. Swim out to the kelp and drop. The life out there is amazing. Refugio may have easier beach access, but Tijiguas is a shorter swim, and even more life.

Other areas I can recommend are Butterfly beach (accross from the Biltmore in Montecito), which is lots of sand, eel grass, bugs, and sand dollar beds. Mesa Lane is awesome if you go left, but unless you really love stairs, avoid it. It's right down the street from my in-laws, so I dive there quite a bit. I've even gone with SCUBA once (and probably never again). There's WSB in the kelp there, but you won't see them if you've got SCUBA.

Henry's beach is probably the best all around bet. The access is good, almost as easy as butterfly. Swim out a bit and south, and theres some wonderful patch reef. Watch out for surge though, I played battering ram with my head there once.

As far as CalAbDiver's concern about tar, it's there. You'll most likely encounter it walking in or out accross the beach. In the water isn't too bad a problem, unless you're diving Goleta or Coal Oil point, both of which I strongly recommend against. We use baby oil to take the tar off, it works great. I've really only ever gotten tar on my booties, never my suit or gear. Just watch your step.

But call Anacapa dive center before you go. They'll usually be able to tell you what's hot and what's not.

JRM




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