Scuba Diving in Malibu Creek State Park

Scuba Diving in Malibu Creek State Park

Jason Daniel Shaw


I had the unique opportunity for an interesting scuba dive recently – but not by choice. I did a one-tank dive at the rock pools at Malibu Creek State Park. I will explain more about that in a bit. First, if you haven’t been to Malibu Creek State Park, it is a amazingly beautiful place. It is famous for being the on-location set for the tv show M*A*S*H. There are also endless rolling grasslands to explore, all kinds of rock climbing opportunities, forest hammocks and so much more. However, one of the most popular features of Malibu Creek State Park is the rock pools where you can cool off after a long hike in a place that looks like it is straight out of the movies. Or, as a lot of people like to do, a place where you can find some adventure and do some cliff jumping.

Malibu Creek State Park Rock Pools


So, we made our way to Malibu Creek State park and did some hiking a couple Sundays ago. Our goal was to end up at the rock pools, do some swimming and maybe do some cliff jumping. It was really busy when we got to the rock pools with people jumping from 40 feet or more. My first, and what turned out to be my only jump was a moderate one from around 15 feet and went well. But, as I was swimming around right after, I realized that I had lost my Apple Watch. I had thought about taking it off before swimming but decided to leave it on as it is water proof and had never came off before. That turned out to be a mistake. I tried to free dive down and search the bottom around the area where I landed but to no avail. I decided it would be easier and I would have a higher probability of finding the watch with my scuba gear. That leads me to my next adventure…

Malibu Creek State Park Scuba Diving


The next afternoon I packed up my scuba gear, rented a tank and carried the 50 pounds of gear (including the tank) on my back the 3.5 miles round trip to the rock pools. Being a weekday, I had hoped that the pools would be empty but there was more people that I thought there would be when we arrived. Most were just hanging out and not jumping though, so I setup the gear and waded into the water. As soon as I sunk below the surface, I realized this was going to be a difficult task. Under the water was very dark and visibility at the bottom was, at best, six inches. In some places, the bottom was made up of different size rocks, a bed of gravel, and covered in a layer of six inches of algae in others. I had to basically feel my way around the bottom in a grid-like pattern, without sight, hoping to find the watch. Almost immediately I found a brand new pair of women’s sunglasses. I thought that with the spot being so popular I may find all kind of things on the bottom, much like the YouTubers do who dive popular swimming holes. However, the glasses would be the last manmade object that I would find, but not my last adventure on the bottom. After ten minutes or so I was making a turn to start a new path and felt something bite my knee. I shot to the surface, forgoing any safety stop (I was only at 15 feet). I regained my courage, located where I thought I needed to be and headed back down to the bottom. From time to time, I used the surfacing technique to get my bearings and start a new search in a new location. One of those times, I descended into a patch of relatively clear water and could see about a foot in front of me. Stoked that I could see, I used the light to try to illuminate the bottom and caught something moving out of the corner of my eye – it was a baby catfish. He was just inches in front of my mask and starring at me. As much as he scared me, I flailed about and scared him away but he returned shortly after. This continued happening and that got me thinking about what else might be down there that could see me but I couldn’t see them so I decided, with a heavy heart, to give up my search. All-in-all I spent 27 minutes searching the bottom and I think that it would probably have taken a lot longer to find it in that dark and varying terrain. All was not lost, I did get to add a unique dive entry in my logbook. One that maybe nobody else has? Hopefully, someone does find my watch one day. It does still show that it is there when I check Find My iPhone and I have left a message for anyone that does find it one day to contact me. If that person is you, I would love to hear from you and the story of how you found it. In the meantime, you can see some more photos of my last trip to the park, form five years ago and before I really wrote much about my adventures in the blogs.

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