Catalina Island has a reputation around the world for having one of the friendliest environments for scuba divers and snorkelers alike. The island's edge, located 22 miles off the coast of Southern California is a haven for thousands of types of marine life, underwater caves and a prime destination for underwater exploration. Catalina Island's waters are very clear with visibilities of up to 100 feet. The island offers a variety of snorkeling expeditions from boat departures to discover various parts of the island to explorations right in Avalon. Visitors can expect to interact with a variety of sea life including the possible sightings of passing dolphins and sea otters.
Those visitors that are hardcore explorers and naturalists will probably be interested in the many boat tours that leave from Green Pleasure Pier and hug the Catalina Island's border. These tours cater to variety of explorers from first timers to families. These boats, or more like rafts provide guides/instructors that know all the hot spots (such as Lover's Cove) where an abundance of sea life thrive including 20 feet talk kelp forests, thousands of Orange Garibaldi Fish, and hundreds more schools of yellow fin tuna. In addition there are a variety of colorful reefs and rock formations that make for an awesome visual delight. These tours usually last around 90 minutes. Two of the man dive operations to offer snorkeling expeditions off of the Green Pleasure Pier are The Catalina Dive Company, Scuba Luv and Snorkeling Catalina. Both offer guided tours in the $38-$60 range depending on time and type of dives. The Scuba Luv company offers an all day dive expedition aboard their Neptune boat for $67 per person that includes a full galley and restrooms on board. All 3 tour operators offer guided charter missions for those more experienced divers looking for an even more in-depth experience.
For explorers not looking to board a raft but wishing to stay closer to shore, Descanso Beach offers a variety of snorkeling opportunities as well. Located just north of the Catalina Casino, Descanso Beach has a snorkeling station where visitors can change into scuba gear right on the beach. A variety of quaint wooden cabins allow visitors to go in and swap clothes and then meet with a guide where they can wade out into Avalon Bay. From here, like Lovers Cove the bright colored Orange Garibaldi makes its home. Visitors will also be able to see reefs, rock fish, crabs and maybe even an Octopus or 2 down into the many caves that line this stretch of shore.
One of the newest attractions to Catalina Island involving snorkeling is the Sea Trek adventure tours. In this unique adventure visitors wear a wet suit, air tight helmet (so water does not come in) and descend a stack of stairs off of Descanso Beach into Avalon bay. The helmet, is connected by a line to an air compressor at the surface. The experience is exciting and allows explorers to literally walk the ocean floor. The Sea Trek Adventure is run by the scuba Luv company on Catalina Island and the journey lasts approximately 25 minutes. Experienced staff serve as guides during this underwater trip.