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California (Monterey area)

There is a tremendous variety of marine life in California, particularly in the kelp forests.  We don't have quite as many pretty fish as tropical locales, but there's a much bigger variety of invertebrate life.

The water here tends to be on the colder side.  50 degrees in the winter, and up to 56-65 degrees in the summer.  A 7mm wetsuit or drysuit is required, unless you're really manly (like the ex-navy seal I dove with once, who did the entire dive in a 3mm short wetsuit).

See the Monterey Beginner's List for some marine life you're likely to see.

Check the conditions before you drive down.