Blue Water Hunter owner Jethro Acosta | Credit: Courtesy

Jethro Acosta’s love of the ocean was sparked at 5 years old when his family moved from Mendocino to Maui. “If there were no waves, my family would explore the reefs surrounding Maui with a three-prong and sometimes come back with a meal,” said Acosta of how he learned to spear hunt species like uhu (parrotfish) and menpachi (soldierfish) and grab lobsters in deeper waters. 

Credit: Courtesy

At age 16, he was working as a tide pool guide when his family moved to his mom’s hometown of Santa Barbara. “At first, this transition was traumatic, but we soon found out that the Pacific Ocean delivered plenty of surf to this coast too,” he said. “And the waters were even more alive with fish.”

While attending SBCC, he ran the dive shop called Underwater Sports before leaving for landlocked Madrid, Spain, to get a degree in international business. “Gills dry, I moved back to Santa Barbara never to leave,” said Acosta, whose career weaved into insurance and other fields. Years later, he learned that the legendary spearfishing shop Bluewater Hunter, which is located at the Harbor, was for sale, and he bought the shop in October 2019. He tells us more about the shop and his plans below. 

Why did you buy Bluewater Hunter (BWH)?  I saw the opportunity as an avenue for adventure and in line with my lifetime passion. As a business person, I was drawn to the fact that BWH was a diamond in the rough and had location, location, location. It also had a long history of serving the diving community but needed some new life breathed into it. 

What makes the shop special?  This location has been a diver hub since 1964, when Mal Wolfe and Don Ducket started the Diver’s Den. They had a standing get-together at the Den every Friday. Many sea stories were told (all true) and adult libations enjoyed. Meanwhile, in Goleta, Brian Bradley purchased Bob’s Diving Locker in 1992 and changed the name to Bluewater Hunter. They moved from Goleta to Harbor Way in 2000.

Credit: Courtesy

What are your plans?  The shop has gone through a full transformation from top to bottom, including new flooring, fixtures, paint, and lighting. We modernized the air compressor for filling scuba tanks, brought in the best and most inventive products in the dive industry, and added a collection of ocean-oriented gifts. We also offer freediving and scuba diving instruction and certification, and private charters to the Channel Islands. 

After speaking to many clients on the lack of selection of fishing gear that targets the local fish species, I teamed up with Owen Scheid, the founder of Steady Drift Rod, to bring a comprehensive full-service fishing store. He was born and raised in Santa Barbara and has 25 years of knowledge gleaned from fishing up and down the West Coast. 

Why should the everyday Santa Barbaran check out BWH?  If you are looking for adventure, we got you covered. If you are looking to get into diving or fishing, we can share what we know with you and give you tips. If you want to hear “Big Fish” stories, we have endless stories to share. We bring our love and passion for ocean adventure with us every day to work and welcome the opportunity to share our passion with anyone who walks in the door. Come in for good vibes. Leave with a plan for your next adventure, a new piece of gear that will make diving and fishing more epic, or a unique gift that encapsulates the spirit of Santa Barbara and the ocean.

117 Harbor Wy., Ste. D; (805) 294-0013;

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