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Scuba Diving in Catalina Island – Complete Guide

by Max
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Scuba Diving in Catalina Island - Complete Guide

Are you thinking of scuba diving in Catalina Island? Great choice! The island is a world-renowned scuba diving destination for a good reason. With crystal clear waters and an abundance of marine life, it’s no wonder why so many divers flock to Catalina Island.

In this guide, we will give you all the information you need to know about scuba diving on Catalina Island. From the best dive sites to what to expect underwater, we’ve got you covered!

What You Need to Know Before Scuba Diving in Catalina Island

Before scuba diving in Catalina Island, there are a few things you should know. First of all, when scuba diving in Catalina Island, it is important to be aware of the strong currents that can be found in the area. These currents can make diving conditions tricky, so it is important to check with your dive shop or operator before entering the water.

Furthermore, the waters around Catalina Island are home to many kelp forests, which can provide shelter and food for marine life. When diving in these areas, it is important to stay away from the kelp leaves, as they could cut your skin.

There are also many shipwrecks located around Catalina Island, which are popular among scuba divers. These shipwrecks can be hazardous to dive, so it is important to be prepared – always get wreck training first before entering a wreck!

The Best Places to Go Scuba Diving in Catalina Island

Catalina Island offers many great dive sites to choose from. Here is a selection:

The Isthmus

This is a narrow strip of land that connects the two halves of Catalina Island. It is home to a variety of marine life, including kelp forests, sea lions, dolphins, and rays. There are also several shipwrecks in the area that are popular with divers.

Farnsworth Banks

Let’s get one thing straight: this is a highly advanced dive, not for the faint of heart. Because of the depths, the ocean currents, and the distance from the island, Farnsworth is not the easiest of dive sites. It’s simple to locate depths beyond recreational limits since even the shallowest portion of Farnsworth is around 60 feet deep. The typical depth for this dive is roughly 100 feet. If you aren’t confident in your diving skills, you probably shouldn’t come here. It’s stunning, but rather a dive site for experienced divers.

Casino Point Dive Park

This is a marine reserve that is popular with both beginner and experienced divers. It is home to a number of reefs and shipwrecks, as well as a variety of fish and other marine life.

Little Geiger

Little Geiger Cove is a true gem. It is inshore from the western side of the massive Eagle Reef and is located near Catalina Island’s isthmus. The island’s secluded and tranquil environment may usually be attributed to its location within (or to the east of) Arrow Point. A solid sand bottom is ideal for anchoring.

The little cove has a sand bottom in the center and a pebble beach on the shore, and there are reefs and kelp forests on each side. Please do not land on this beach since it belongs to a private yacht club. It is feasible to dive the whole cove in a single session, although you will spend more time swimming and less time exploring. The reef is more broad and intriguing on the right or west side of the bay, and the kelp is thickest there.

Jumping into the kelp headfirst is the best way to enjoy this area. It’s as lavish and verdant as a tropical rain forest. To the naked eye, it would seem like fish are swarming everywhere. Swimming around are schools of tiny brown cigar-shaped seorita fish. Blacksmiths also found swimming in coral crevices. Although kelp bass are abundant, the larger ones tend to be elusive. Garibaldi exist, albeit in smaller numbers than one might expect. There are also rockfish, sheephead, and opaleye to consider.

Blue Caverns

The Blue Cavern is found in one of the most protected marine areas in all of Southern California. Neither the space nor its contents may be altered in any manner, nor removed. This makes Blue Cavern a scuba diver’s paradise, since the pure environment attracts a wide variety of aquatic species. This is a great diving spot since it offers a wide range of marine life. There are kelp forests, high cliffs, tunnels, fissures, and overhangs in the underwater realm.

Also prepare to encounter sharks, sea lions, kelp forests, high cliffs, caverns, and overhangs as you descend down the anchor line.

Best Dive Shops in Catalina Island

If you’re planning a scuba diving trip to Catalina Island, you’ll want to check out some of the best dive shops in the area. Here are a few of our favorites:

Dive N’ Surf

This shop is located in Redondo Beach and offers a wide variety of scuba gear and accessories, as well as lessons and tours.

Catalina Divers Supply

Located in Two Harbors, this shop has everything you need for your diving adventure, including tanks, weights, and wetsuits.

Catalina Scuba

This shop, located in Avalon, offers both scuba gear and snorkeling gear rentals, as well as instruction and tour packages.

The Best Time to Scuba Dive in Catalina Island

The best time of year to scuba dive in Catalina Island is from May to October when the water temperature is a comfortable 68-degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, the visibility is also at its best, averaging 20-30 feet. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to stick to diving during the weekdays when the waters are less crowded.

What To Do When Not Scuba Diving in Catalina Island?

For starters, you can explore the island’s many hiking trails. There are also a number of beaches where you can sunbathe, swim, or simply relax.

If you’re looking for something a bit more active, you can go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Both activities are great ways to explore the island’s coastline. Catalina Island also has a number of golf courses if that’s your thing.

In terms of dining and nightlife, Catalina Island has plenty to offer. There are a number of restaurants and bars scattered around the island. Avalon, the island’s main town, is especially known for its lively nightlife scene.


Where is Catalina Island Located?

Catalina Island (or Santa Catalina) is located in the Gulf of California, off the coast of southwestern Mexico. It is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Ensenada and 120 miles (200 kilometers) west-southwest of Los Angeles, California.

What is the best time of year to go scuba diving in Catalina Island?

The best time of year to scuba dive in Catalina Island is from May to October when the water temperature is a comfortable 68-degrees Fahrenheit.

However, there is no wrong time to go diving in Catalina Island, as the water temperature remains comfortable year-round. However, some times of year may be better than others, depending on what you’re looking for.

Summer is peak season for tourism in Catalina Island (May to October), so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, autumn and winter may be better times to go diving.

What do I need to bring with me on a scuba diving trip in Catalina Island?

When scuba diving in Catalina Island, it is important to bring all of the necessary gear in order to have a safe and enjoyable experience. This includes a wet suit, fins, mask, BCD and regulator. It is also recommended to bring a dive light, as the visibility underwater can be low at times.

How deep will I be able to dive in Catalina Island?

Generally speaking, most scuba diving in Catalina Island will be between 30 and 60 feet deep. The depth of your dive will mostly depend on a variety of factors, including your experience level, the type of dive you are doing, and the conditions at the dive site.

If you are diving with a certified instructor, they will be able to help you plan your dives and stay within your comfort level.

What kind of fish will I see while scuba diving in Catalina Island?

There are a variety of fish that you may see while scuba diving in Catalina Island. Some of the more common fish include:

  • Angelfish
  • Clownfish
  • Damselfish
  • Grouper
  • Parrotfish
  • Snapper
  • Triggerfish

If you are lucky, you may also see some rare species like:

  • Amberjack
  • Barracuda
  • Butterflyfish
  • Chromis
  • Drums
  • Goatfish
  • Jacks

Is scuba diving in Catalina Island good?

No doubt! The island is blessed with beautiful clear waters, an abundance of marine life, and plenty of interesting dive sites to explore. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s something for everyone here.

How much does scuba diving in Catalina Island cost?

The cost of scuba diving in Catalina Island will vary depending on a number of factors, including the dive shop you use, the equipment you need, and the length of your dive.

However, to give you an idea of what to expect, a one-day scuba diving trip with a reputable dive shop will typically cost between $100 and $200 per person. This price includes all of the necessary equipment and a certified dive guide.

What type of climate does Catalina Island have?

The climate on Catalina Island is mild and tempered by the surrounding ocean waters. The average high temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) and the average low temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

There is very little variation in temperature throughout the year. The island experiences an average of 14 inches (35 centimeters) of rain each year, most of which falls between November and March.

Do I need a diving certificate to scuba dive in Catalina Island?

No, you do not need a diving certificate to scuba dive in Catalina Island. However, we highly recommend that you take a scuba diving course before your trip. This will ensure that you are familiar with the basic safety procedures and have a good understanding before you start out on your own.

Are there sharks in Catalina Island?

Yes, there are sharks in Catalina Island! There are a variety of different species of sharks that can be found in the waters off Catalina Island, including great white sharks, hammerhead sharks, and mako sharks. While most of these sharks are not considered to be dangerous to humans, it is always important to be aware of their presence and to exercise caution when swimming or diving in areas where they may be present.

What are the pros and cons of scuba diving in Catalina Island?

There are many great dive sites in Catalina Island, making it a popular destination for scuba diving. However, there are also some risks associated with diving in this area. Here are some pros and cons of scuba diving in Catalina Island:


  • Many beautiful and interesting submerged features to explore
  • Good visibility overall
  • Warm water temperatures


  • Strong currents can be present nearshore
  • Diving at night is not recommended due to the risk of entanglement in kelp

Which is the better scuba diving destination, Catalina Island or Channel Islands?

Both Catalina Island and Channel Islands offer a variety of sea life for scuba divers to observe. However, Catalina Island is home to a greater diversity of sea life, including several species that are not found in the Channel Islands. For example, divers in Catalina Island may see California sea lions, giant kelp forests, and bright orange Garibaldi fish.

Catalina Island also offers more dive sites than Channel Islands. This is due to the fact that Catalina Island is larger and has more coastline. As a result, scuba divers can explore different types of terrain, such as reefs, kelp forests, and shipwrecks. In addition, Catalina Island’s dive sites are typically less crowded than those in Channel Islands.

Final Thoughts

Catalina Island is a great place for scuba diving. With fantastic dive sites, good visibility and a variety of conditions awaiting you, Catalina Island has something to offer for every level. We hope these tips help you to have an amazing time underwater.

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