A Users Guide To The Best Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Spots on Catalina Island

Lovers Cove

Just on the outskirts of Avalon (towards the east end) is Lovers Cover, a fun and very reliable snorkeling location. This is a perfect place for those who wish to come to Avalon to enjoy a vacation get away and looking for the best snorkeling spots to add to your trip.

Lovers Cove is within walking distance of down town Avalon, but can also be reached by taxi if you are transporting gear or prefer not to walk. Alternatively, just pack a day pack and rent all your snorkel gear right beside the ferry terminal.

As long as the visibility is good this is an excellent location to see some of the best of what Catalina has to offer. You have a well-protected cove (without a real beach) with kelp forest and your usual Garibaldi, opal eye, blacksmith, and even some recent sightings of sea turtles!

Casino Point Dive Park

If you are staying in Avalon and looking for local snorkeling and dive spots, your only other option to Lovers Cove is Casino Point Dive Park. This is located at the point well demarcated by the historical symbol of Avalon, the Casino.

This is a very popular and well-visited dive location centered around the thick kelp forest that grows abundantly around the jetty protecting the island city from ocean storms.

Although not as remote and private as some of the other dive spots on Catalina mentioned, this is a very nice location and perfect for the beginner scuba diver to get comfortable diving in the ocean.

Italian Gardens

On the north east shore of Catalina Island is a remote campground accessible only by boat or kayak. Italian Gardens has three separate beaches and is one of eleven primitive boat-in only campgrounds on the island. Although permits are always required to camp here, keep in mind that there are no facilities what so ever. All oaters and kayakers will have to pack everything in, as well as out with them.

This is one of the most desirable diving and snorkeling locations on the island. The remote beaches are clean and the water is crystal clear. The marine ecosystem here is primarily centered around the beautiful forests of giant kelp, which provide the ideal habitat for many various species of invertebrates, fish and your occasional shark and ray.

Ship Rock

Ship rock is one of the two rock outcroppings off the shore of the isthmus, and the quaint island village of Two Harbors on Catalina Island. Ship rock jets out of water over 10 meters and is considered one of the best dive spots on the island. Surrounding the rock are dense kelp forests going to depths between twenty and fifty feet. This is a very popular destination for free divers and spear fisherman, yellow tail tuna, lingcod, barracuda, cabezon, calico bass, Sheephead, blue-banded gobies, horn sharks and lobsters can all be found in here.

Although it can get quite chilly below 60 feet, you can follow the outcropping down to depths of 100 feet to reveal angel sharks, bat rays, nudribranchs, yellow zooanthid anemones, and other rare and quite fascinating marine vertebrates and invertebrates.

Doctors Cove

Just beside the highly desirable cove of Emerald Bay is Doctors Cove, another highly sought dive spot on Catalina Island, with a wide diversity of marine ecosystems and abundant wildlife.

Considered one of the top dive spots on the island, you can enjoy the chance of seeing thick kelp forest growing right beside a rocky reef and sandy botton environment. Daily sighting from our science camp Mountain and Sea Adventures report shovelnose guitar fish and other rays and skates, leopard sharks and horn sharks, a wide variety of fish and marine birds such cormorant, brown pelicans, western grebes, and even the occasional arctic tern.

Indian Rock

One of the most famous dive spots on Catalina, and frequently visited by scuba diving tours, private charters and yachters; Indian Rock is a rocky reef creating a small island in the center of the beautiful bluish-green waters of Emerald Bay. Not only a fun and abundant divine location, Indian Rock is a very valuable habitat and sanctuary for marine birds, which use the inaccessible nooks and crannies of the rocks as nests and feeding grounds.

This is an ideal location for yachters looking for a beautiful cove to relax and play in the water. A short swim from the rocky reef is Sandy Beach, which as its name suggests is a long patch of sand that offers a great place for sunbathing and beach games.

You never know what you will find, in the fall of staff at 2015 the campers and Mountain and Sea Adventures discovered a rare deep sea oarfish which had just recently washed up ashore Sandy Beach, and provided an amazing opportunity for the school group having their marine science camp that week to see something extremely special!

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