Shore dives are a pain. You have to walk into the surf, battle the waves and crawl your way out. A better option is to head to Catalina. Diving the island's Casino Point is remarkably easy: A convenient set of stairs will lead you down to the kelp forest below, and a gear-rental kiosk is right next to the dive stairs. The park is a protected marine sanctuary, so there is never a deficit of fish to see. You'll certainly spot a smattering of garibaldis and a halibut or two. You might even stumble across the handful of shipwrecks abandoned on the ocean floor (keep an eye out for the Jacques Cousteau plaque down there). And if you're lucky, a pair of sea lions might swim over to play.
Avalon, Catalina Island.