Skill Level / Necessary Training: Open Water Diver, simple walk down stairs from the parking lot and easy sandy beach entry. Although Deep and Night training will really make this dive site shine.
How to Get There: Search for Veteran’s Park on Esplanade in Redondo Beach.
If you aren’t using Navigation, Get on Pacific Coast Highway heading towards Redondo Beach. Turn on Pearl Street heading towards the Ocean. You’ll go straight through a 4-way stop sign and straight through a controlled intersection. The parking lot will be right in front of you.
Parking: Usually plenty of parking in the beach parking lot, unless it’s a summer weekend or the Thursday Farmer’s Market. Parking is metered with old school coin only meters, so don’t forget your quarters. Meters cost $1.50 as of summer 2018.
Facilities: There’s a public restroom next to the parking lot and at the bottom of the stairs. They are open from 7am-8pm. There are also showers at the bottom of the stairs accessible 24/7.
Surf Conditions: https://magicseaweed.com/Redondo-Beach-Breakwater-Surf-Report/4208/
Veteran’s Park is a West facing beach. Generally, if Laguna Beach is experiencing high surf from southern swells, Vets is probably still good to dive. It’s protected from southern swells by Palos Verdes.
Entry: From the parking lot, walk down the stairs, cross the bike path (but look out for bikes! They don’t slow for divers), and walk straight into the water. It’s a very easy entry depending on surf and used for Open Water training regularly.
Dive Site: Veteran’s Park bottom topography is a large sandy sloping bottom. It slopes down well past recreational limits into a deep sea canyon. It’s not a very long swim to get out to 60, 100, or 130 feet. There’s no reef structure here. The deep canyon tends to cause a very noticeable thermocline typically colder than other sites around Southern California. In the middle of June, I clocked 71F at the surface and 48F at the thermocline.
Vets gets an unfair bad rap because it’s very sandy. Lots and lots of sand. But if you slow down, go deep, or come out at night, then there’s a ton of life to find. In the shallows at day, I’ve found Round Stingrays, Thornback Rays, Spiny Sand Stars, Sea Pansies, White Sea Pens, Yellow Rock Crab, Spider Crab, Dungeness Crab, Horn Shark, Leopard Shark, Angel Shark, Shovelnose Gitarfish, California Halibut, and Horny Head Turbot. Not to mention the infamous Target Shrimp. Night is when most of the life here comes out to hunt. If you night dive here, you’ll find more target shrimp than you can shake a stick at. With a fishing license, you can take these tasty shrimp home to cook. As of 2018, limit was 35 per diver.
As you go deeper (45-80 feet) you’ll start to see more plant life growing in the sand. That means more fish and invertebrates to hide in them! Look for Wavy Turban Snail shells, there may be a Sarcastic Fringehead or One Spotted Fringehead lurking inside. At night, you can almost always find some Two-Spotted Octopuses crawling around. In the day, they like to hide inside glass bottles. Keep your eyes peeled, and if you’re lucky you’ll spot a baby Giant Sea Bass swimming around.
If you head south from your entry point, at about 65 feet you’ll eventually run into The Monument. It’s a cinderblock structure with an old scuba tank and toy car built up in the sand. Lots of fish and crabs like to hang out around it.
What You’ll See: If you’re diving in the day above 60 feet, go slow and look closely in the sand. You’ll find things buried in there like Target Shrimp, Dungeness Crab, California Halibut, Hornyhead Turbot, 3 types of Pipefish, California Scorpionfish, Shovelnose Guitarfish, Angel Shark, Sea Pansy, and White Sea Pen.
If you go deep in the day time, you’re likely to find Warty Sea Cucumber, Wavy Turban Snail, California Cone Snail, Kellet’s Whelk, Spider Crab, Yellow Rock Crab, Ocean White Fish, and Sarcastic Fringehead.
If you come out at night, you’ll find the above out and roaming around (which is already awesome), plus Horn Shark, Two Spotted Octopus, Vermillion Rockfish, California Spiny Lobster, Target Shrimp, Target Shrimp, and more Target Shrimp!
Emergency Assistance: 911
Divers Alert network: 919-684-9111
Fire: (310) 318-0663
Police: (310) 379-2477
Emergency Hyperbaric Chambers:
Long Beach Memorial Hospital: 562-933-2000
UCLA Medical Center: 310-794-1031
Catalina hyperbaric Chamber- Emergency line: 310-510-1053
Divers Alert Network, non emergency medical questions: 919-684-9111