LA County Underwater Unit

LA County Underwater Unit

LA County Underwater Unit 150 150 Parks & Recreation

The County of Los Angeles Underwater Unit maintains and provides educational services and experience programs to train and educate SCUBA divers, freedivers and dive leaders in local oceanographic patterns and processes for safe exploration of the coastal and offshore island waters of Los Angeles County. Certification programs emphasizing critical watermanship skills, repetitive acclimation and exposure to the differing seasonal turbulence patterns are also offered with no particular affiliation to any agency.

The Lifeguard Division of the Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation has responsibility for the direct oversight and management the following Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation Underwater Unit programs:

  1. Advanced Diver Program (“ADP”)
  2. Underwater Instructor Certification Course (“UICC”)
  3. Rocks, Rips and Reefs (“The 3R’s”)

3R’s (Rocks, Rips and Reefs)

2024 Program Information

The 3R’s (Rocks, Rips and Reefs) is a public service designed to educate and update free dive & scuba divers on the seasonal environmental awareness considerations for diving in Los Angeles County to site specific shore based diving considerations, current year swell & surf patterns and safe practices for popular local dive sites in Los Angeles County. This program generally offers 4-5 sessions, from May through August at 4 different shore based dive sites & 1 land based session.

A key program goal is to assist participants in identifying and recognizing the precipitating events that cause accidents in shore based diving environments so they can be avoided or mitigated.

Each Ocean Session begins with a short land based educational seminar covering the local dive site bathymetry, shore based entries and exits, certain aspects of the local marine environment, and other valuable, site-specific information. Conditions permitting, the seminar is followed by an in-water demonstration and practice session for qualified participants that includes a skin diving tour of the actual dive site.

Local on duty Lifeguards also provide a briefing on EMS and local hazards observed and at selected sites, there is an opportunity for Baywatch boat boarding, briefing and tour at  selected locations.

How to Utilize Forecasting Tools in Dive Planning

The presentation centers on current year weather, swell and surf patterns and safe practices, with examples of popular dive sites in Los Angeles County utilizing NOAA and CDIP forecasting tools and real time data feeds from NOAA & CDIP buoy arrays.

Supervision & Staffing

Supervised experience for participants is led conducted by certified Los Angeles County Scuba Instructors. There are also other volunteers who help with each ocean session. These volunteers  often consist of instructors from various agencies, rescue certified divers, divemasters, and assistant instructors.

A weekend of comprehensive staff training for all volunteers is mandatory for all new and returning volunteers and there is no charge for this training.  Divers with at least rescue training level and above certifications are invited to apply to the Underwater Unit for the limited number of volunteer positions available each year.


  1. Completed and Signed Medical Statement form.  Any “yes” answers to questions on the form will require a physician’s release signature prior to any in water participation. Only one form is required to be completed for participation in all 2022 sessions. Repeat session participants will be asked to confirm that all information previously submitted is current and correct.  Contact the Underwater Director to get a copy of the medical statement in advance to see if this applies to you.
  2. Full OCEAN Skin Gear (FOSG) REQUIRED. Full Skin Gear is full wetsuit (recommended 5mm-7mm), hood, gloves, booties, mask, fins, and a snorkel. Sturdy booties with open heel fins are required to provide foot protection as certain locations involve entries & exits as well as skin diving on or near rocks.  If you desire to wear a weight belt for practicing skin diving, you are allowed no more than 10 pounds of weight.

Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and other exposure protection (depending on the day) as well as drinking water to maintain hydration and snacks.  It’s also a good idea to bring a folding style beach chair for the lecture portion of each beach session as well as a pen and pad of paper.

ADP (Advanced Diver Program)

2024 Program Information

Recognizing the need to provide a comprehensive continuing education and training program for the recreational SCUBA diver in the Southern California area, the Los Angeles County Underwater Unit Department of Parks and Recreation, established the Advanced Diver Program in 1964.

The program objective is to provide participants with an opportunity to individually improve their diving skills and expand their diving knowledge, with an emphasis on the Southern California diving environment. Combining lectures with pool and ocean labs, the divers are provided with a comprehensive learning environment. The main objective of the training is to increase the student’s safety, education and fitness in our local ocean surroundings. The ADP program is conducted annually from the end of June to September with participants receiving over 100 hours of quality training including a minimum of 12 open water dives.

Lectures may include:

  • Oceanography & Forecasting Ideal Diving Conditions
  • Navigation
  • Rescue
  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Physical Fitness & Nutrition
  • Diving equipment
  • Medical aspects of diving
  • Marine life ID
  • Dive planning
  • Dive tables & computers
  • Basic decompression theory concepts
  • Skin & Free Diving
  • Altitude diving
  • Freshwater diving
  • Night diving
  • Search and recovery
  • Shore based & boat-based diving.
  • Introduction to Technical diving

Underwater Instructor Certification Course (UICC)

2024 Program Information Coming Soon

Comprehensive Leadership Instruction in Skin (“Recreational Freediving”) & SCUBA Diving Sciences. The primary objective of this program is to promote and encourage, through top diving science educators, rescue professionals & instructors, the training of the general public in the safe techniques of participating in underwater recreation activities in the Southern California Environment. This is the renowned Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor Certification Course, is a non-profit public program committed to continue to training and develop the highest caliber diving instructors anywhere. The program features highly demanding watermanship training and rigorous academic curriculum over a 3 ½ months of weekend training in the Greater Los Angeles County area and surrounding coastal waters. The primary objective of this program is to promote and encourage, through top diving science educators, rescue professionals & instructors, the training of the general public in the safe techniques of participating in underwater recreation activities in the Southern California Environment. Only those applicants who are able to pass a rigorous 2-day pre-test are accepted into the program. Public information sessions will again be conducted in late summer to review course entrance requirements and answer questions about the course.


Questions, Program Information, Volunteer Recruitment, etc.


2024 Program Information Coming Soon

Skip to content