Dive Report: "Little Corona Beach"

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by geoa on August 18, 2001 at 17:47:41:

Growing up in Corona del Mar, I used to hang out at the beach alot. One of our favorite beaches in town was Little Corona. Usually much less crowded than Big Corona State Beach which lies abour 1 mile west. Since about 9 years of age I, along with the rest of our "dive team" would pair up and skin dive relentlessly during the summers. Our Voit Single Lens "Lloyd Bridges" dive masks and Voit "Sea Viking" swim fins were more than up to the task of this site, but eventually any allowance money and paper route savings went to the purchase of ScubaPro 3 Lens masks with snorkels and U.S. Divers Rocket Fins. Now we were cooking. Those old ScubaPro masks were about the size of bricks and almost as heavy. The Rocket fins were horribly uncomfortable but looked really cool.

I remember piking over and being amazed at the amount of life down there. Spider Crabs, Sheep Crabs, Lobster, Rays, Sharks, Kelp Bass, Senoritas, 'Baldi's Octopi and much more. Even durring the summer it was not unusual to have 30, maybe even 40 ft. vis. I remember as well a few days with 100 ft vis. Clear as a bell, like diving a pool and about 75 deg.

Today was the day I decided to revisit this little beach with a can of 36, and considerably more gear than we carried in 1971. I'm glad I did will be going back more often.

As you drive south on PCH make a right turn on Poppy St., next to the "Five Crowns Restaurant. Two or Three blocks down Poppy on your left, you'll see a little staging area with a bench and a grassy knoll. Drop your gear and buddy if you have one and find a place to park on the streets around the beach. Parking is free. You'll be standing at the edge of a cliff looking down at where you'll be diving and noticing three finger reefs laying at about 165 deg.

If the conditions look worthwhile for diving, gear up and walk down the paved 400 foot long hill to the beach. The hill is only about a 25 or 30 deg grade, so its not a blow at all coming back. At the end of the hill theres a head with a fresh water shower. When you stand in front of the guard tower, shoot a bearing on the west side marker buoy. I got 235 deg. That buoy is in about 35 ft of water, 200 yards offshore. Generally, the waves break right on the sand, so the patented Laguna Sea Sports surf entry is a breeze here. Any waves breaking on the outer reefs means conditions are'nt going to any good for diving. After collecting the club members, we posted the point man in front and he kicked off toward the west side buoy. We could see that the vis was about 20 ft today and when we thought we were at 15 ft, we switched to scuba and dropped to the bottom. Kinda surgy this shallow but once everyone got collected, the point man headed off. Little patch reefs are numerous and we spent time circling and hovering each one. Lots of big Kelp Bass and Senoritas, Garibaldi, and those cobalt blue fish that I can't remember the name of. Smallish bugs and large Sheep Crabs. Theres also lots of trash here, not bad trash, but things like giant brake drums from trucks, 1 gallon wine bottles kids dive masks, swimmers eyewear, a tennis shoe and other stuff that can make a fairly nice home for the discriminating octopus. I hovered over one such wine bottle and sure enough, I eventually noticed an eyeball looking back at me. Exhale. As I did, the 2 ft octopus streched his body out to about the diameter of the bottle neck and kind of poured herself into it. That was cool. Much less surgy at 25fsw and we basically just paid attention to the ripple lines running 90 and 270 to keep us on a rough heading outbound to the buoy. Jetski overhead. I hate that sound. Over there next to a mini pinnacle, two 14 inch Sheep crabs were too busy scratching their backs to notice me. Whoa. An adult Sheepshead maybe 3 ft long was noted at 18 minutes into the dive. Check gas. 3000 psi. Nothing like warm and shallow for stretching air. There are some beautiful ledges and pinnacles here with sandy spaces in-between. Lots of eel grass waving and I was taken aback for a moment when a 3 ft shovelnosed guitar (fish) bolted from the sand. More bugs in cracks and under ledges. Mostly shorts. School of Jacks at 30 minutes. School of Surf Perch. I felt a shadow pass overhead, yep. Bat Ray on the wing, Good size too, 4 ft. This whole dive reminded me of Yucab in Coz. Warm, clear and scattered rock bottom deal. At 35 ft, the vis even got close to 30 ft. today. Not bad. At 50 minutes, the newest diver (who was also overweighted by 16 pounds, arrrrrrgh) signaled that he was down to 1000 psi. We swung bezels and headed back. Same thing for the return as far as marine life. Great dive. Two thumbs way up.
40 fsw X 70 minutes water temp 66deg vis 20 to 30.

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