Best Snorkeling Beaches In Catalina Island (Avalon), California

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Thanks to its stunning, warm, clear waters, Catalina Island, California, promises some of the best snorkeling opportunities in the state. This Island, which is only 22 miles from Los Angeles, is home to some exquisite marine life and large kelp forests that are just waiting for underwater adventurers to explore.

Snorkeling is one of Catalina Island’s main attractions and arguably one of California’s best snorkeling experiences. Exploring the kelp forests and exquisite marine life at popular spots like Lover’s Cove is just a part of what makes Catalina Island the perfect snorkeling destination.

If you are a snorkeler looking for some fun, relaxing time away with your friends, family, or partner, then Catalina Island should be at the top of your list of destination considerations. From giant kelp forests to giant bass fish, find out why Catalina Island is the perfect place for your next snorkeling adventure!

Snorkeling In Catalina Island

Roughly 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles is where you can expect to find the beautiful Catalina Island. It boasts some of the most incredible snorkeling opportunities that will leave you awestruck. There are numerous protected coves, bays, and beaches on the Island, as well as warm water teeming with diverse sea life just waiting to be explored.

Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities among those who come to enjoy the wonders of Catalina Island. Lover’s Cove and Casino Point Dive Park, in particular, are some of the excellent snorkeling locations available here, but we’ll get to that a little later. 

The weather on Catalina Island is pleasant throughout the year, but the water is usually chilly enough for snorkelers and divers to wear wetsuits for much of the year. The water temperature in the summer ranges from 70 to 75 degrees, making it the warmest snorkeling destination off the coast of California and undoubtedly the best time to go. 

The water temperatures drop roughly to 65 to 70 degrees in the spring and autumn months, which is when you will most likely need to wear a wetsuit. All in all, if you are planning a snorkeling adventure on Catalina Island, although any time of year could offer a great snorkeling experience, summer would undoubtedly be the best of the best!

Catalina Island’s Marine Life

One of the best parts about snorkeling at Catalina Island is all of the exciting opportunities to see the beautiful marine life that finds their homes here. Here is a quick list of some of the exciting marine life that you can expect to see on your underwater adventure on Catalina Island:

Giant Sea Bass

Commonly referred to as wreckfish, the giant sea bass that ranges from 5 to 7 feet in length might be one of the more uncommon sights to encounter while snorkeling in Catalina Island but will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable. These gigantic fish can be seen rummaging through kelp forests all across the Island, mostly around wrecks or places with plenty of cover.

Giant Kelpfish

Giant Kelpfish are another stunning sight for snorkelers to experience at Catalina Island. They generally have a beautiful reddish-orange appearance, with white or speckled spots, and are usually 9 to 14 inches in length, although some have been found to grow up to 18 inches long. These beautiful fish are a real treat to be able to witness while snorkeling!


Out of all the stunning fish to see while snorkeling on Catalina Island, the vivid orange garibaldi is certainly the one that you have the highest chances of seeing since their bright orange hue makes them so easy to spot. 

Garibaldi, despite their size, is one of the more aggressive species found in Catalina’s seas, but don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. Garibaldi are typically 8 to 12 inches long but can grow to be up to 14 inches long, and you’ll spot many of them swimming in and around the kelp forests.

The Best Snorkeling Spots In Catalina Island

Now, since you know a little more about the snorkeling experience and what you can expect to see while underwater, let’s get to the fun part and show you some of the best snorkeling spots on Catalina Island:

Lover’s Cove

Lover’s Cove is the first exciting snorkeling spot on our list. While Lover’s Cove may not have a beach, it promises to be one of the most scenic, tranquil, and secluded snorkeling experiences that you can have.

There are beautiful giant kelp forests that you will be able to see, which serve as somewhat of a magnet for stunning marine life like Calico Bass and the previously mentioned bright orange Garibaldi fish. 

One of the best ways to experience Lover’s Cove is on a snorkeling tour. Oftentimes the tour companies will throw a lot of bait into the water, which, of course, attracts a lot of marine life for you to be able to see and swim with. You might even be lucky enough to feed some of the fish by hand. 

Casino Point Dive Park

Casino Point Dive Park is a Catalina Island snorkeling experience not to be missed by underwater explorers. The Dive Park is located on the southeastern part of the Island, right by the casino.

Snorkelers here will be able to explore the stunning “underwater garden,” which boasts a lot of kelp forests, exquisite marine life, and even shipwrecks. Casino Point Dive Park is an excellent snorkeling spot for both family and partner outings. 

The visibility in the water here is noticeably better than most other spots, and the waves promise to provide a tranquil experience. Some of the marine life that you can expect to see here include lobsters, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, horn sharks, and colorful Garibaldis, to name just a few. 

Descanso Beach

Another wonderful snorkeling area on Catalina Island is the beautiful Descanso Beach. The beach here is predominantly made up of large amounts of pebbles. However, there are a few sandy sections where you may relax and unwind after your underwater adventure. 

Similar to Lovers Cove, there is a thriving amount of marine life to be seen here, but the area boasts a few more superior amenities for you to enjoy outside of snorkeling that could add to a much more memorable experience.

However, something to keep in mind is that Descanso Beach is a private beach. It is open and available to the public to enjoy; however, there will be a minimal fee that you will need to cover to enter.


Overall, it is easy to see why Catalina Island is arguably the best snorkeling destination in all of California. Make the time to take a trip out to the Island with some friends and family and enjoy all of the pleasantries and underwater adventures that are on offer. You certainly will not be disappointed!