A sidescan sonar image shows a series of rocky reefs in Descanso Bay. The closest large reef is about 160 meters from shore or 80 meters from an exposed rock that is visible at most tides. According to the marine chart, I could expect depths of 60-70' at the base of the reef. The closest shore access point was at the end of Descanso Bay Rd. I dove here on Aug. 12, 2018.
I had shown up at one of the lowest tides of the year. The small, exposed rock was almost connected to the shoreline. My plan was to snorkel out to this rock and then follow my compass underwater to the reef out in the bay.
Visibility in the shallows was pretty bad. It was less than 6'. As I descended on the far side of the exposed rock, the visibility improved slightly to maybe 8'. I almost landed on a dogfish shark on the bottom (15' deep). It seemed curious and swam around me several times.
I followed my compass out over the sandy bottom towards the reef. There were tube-dwelling anemones and lots of small nudibranchs on the bottom. After swimming for longer than I expected, I eventually reached a depth of 80' without finding the reef. I figured I must have swam in a slightly-wrong direction. I saw several small sea whips out at this depth. Visibility down here was a dark 10-15'.
I changed direction back to where I guessed the rocky reef might be. I eventually found it. It met the sand at about 70' deep here. It was made up of small walls and piles of boulders and rubble. There were feather stars, a few plumose anemones and small copper and quillback rockfish. This end of Gabriola Island is a Rockfish Conservation Area so hook-and-line fishing here is illegal.
As I swam along the base of the reef it gradually became shallower, eventually reaching 45' deep. I swam up and over the top of the reef (20' deep) and down the closer side (it's base was 45' deep here too). I followed my compass back along the sandy bottom towards shore. This time I swam in the right direction and the swim back was much shorter than my swim out to find the reef.
I think this dive site is nowhere near as good as many other spots around Gabriola Island, but it was interesting enough to make me want to come back and explore more when the visibility is better.