There is NO good diving in Santa Cruz. While it is possible to dive in Santa Cruz it is shallow diving and the visibility is very poor. Running a dive shop based in Santa Cruz I get a lot of calls about people that want to go diving here. Hopefully everyone searching for diving in Santa Cruz will find this and save themselves some disappointment.
Why we don’t dive in Santa Cruz: Despite being relatively close to popular diving areas like Monterey and Carmel, Santa Cruz is very different in terms of what is going on under the water. The first thing to know is that it is very shallow in Santa Cruz, max depth off shore within a swimmable distance is only going to be 15-30 ft. While some divers might not have an issue with shallower dives, the other issue this presents is the waves (the reason Santa Cruz is known for surfing). Because of the shallow water there are more waves that break farther out stirring up more sediment on the bottom and increasing turbidity. This also makes it more difficult and dangerous to enter and exit the water. The other main issue is the visibility, because Santa Cruz coast line mostly consist of silt stone and mud stone, there are very fine particle in the water that are not conducive to good visibility. While on rare occasions the visibility can be decent most of the time it is roughly 2-7 ft. The last reason that we do not dive Santa Cruz is the structure, while there is structure usually marked by kelp is is low lying structure and once again mostly mud stone, so breaks off easily and clouds visibility, for the most part its is also a lot of sand which for recreational diving is not very exciting.
In Conclusion, it is not worth it to go diving in Santa Cruz. Dive shops will not take you diving in Santa Cruz, because the diving is NOT GOOD. If you are interested in diving, Monterey and Carmel are where you want to dive, thats not to say that you shouldn’t support Santa Cruz dive shops but that is where we go diving.