So many places to dive... Here are some of the places I've been where I have specific notes:
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. You're very likely to see these critters.
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).
Check the conditions before you drive down.
- Coral Street, a more exposed beach northwest of Lovers Point
- K Dock, where the dive boats moor up
- Lovers Point, in Pacific Grove
- McAbee Beach, on Cannery Row
- Monastery Beach, an advanced beach south of Carmel
- Monterey State Beach and the municipal wharf, southeast of the marina
- Point Lobos, a state reserve south of Carmel
- San Carlos Beach, aka Breakwater, the most popular beach in the area
- Stillwater Cove, a shallow cove off Pebble Beach
Where the water's a little warmer... at least, above 60'. I've been to the Channel Islands several times.
Water temperature varies from 74-81. I usually dive in a 3mm wetsuit, or a 5mm wetsuit if I'm doing more than two dives in a day. Visibility is usually at least 50'. Lots of colorful fish.
I've dived all the islands, including the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. My favorites are Kona on the Big Island and Kauai. Oahu's pretty crowded and the pollution has affected the reefs.
The Indo-Pacific region is home to a phenomenal range of fish and invertebrates.
Or you can explore all the locations in my database (under construction).