Ocean Adventure

Catalina Island Scuba Diving 101

scuba diving in catalina island

Your Guide to Scuba Diving Catalina (For Beginners)

In the crystal clear waters off the coast of Southern California enveloping Catalina Island, scuba diving is a way of life. Known for its clear depths, vibrant marine life, and well-maintained dive sites, it provides a safe and exciting environment for beginners. New divers can gain skills and scuba diving experience in the underwater world off the shores of Catalina Island.

Does Catalina Island Have Good Scuba Diving?

Catalina Island scuba diving is among the top destinations in the world! It’s a unique place to scuba dive for its kelp forests, colorful wildlife, and much more. Catalina scuba diving is suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced divers.

Popular dive sites include:

Many areas around Catalina Island are designated as marine protected areas (MPAs). The water clarity enhances the diving experience, allowing divers to see more of the underwater landscape and marine life.

Catalina Island Scuba Diving – 4 Things You Must Know

1. Conditions

The diving conditions off Catalina Island are generally excellent, offering clear waters with visibility often reaching 30-40 feet, particularly in the summer and fall. The island’s location provides relatively moderate water temperatures, ranging from 55°F in the winter to 74°F in the summer, which are comfortable with the appropriate wetsuit.

Protected bays and coves create calm and safe diving environments, especially for beginners, by providing shelter from strong currents and waves. The diverse underwater topography, featuring rocky reefs, lush kelp forests, and sandy bottoms, along with the rich marine life, makes diving off Catalina Island a captivating experience for divers of all skill levels.

2. How to Get There

Catalina Island is easily accessible from mainland Southern California via ferry, helicopter, or private boat. Catalina Sea Camp (the Premier Ocean Adventure Summer Camp in California), is established in two locations: Toyon Bay and Fox Landing, which makes it a popular destination for scuba diving camp.

Catalina Sea Camp staff escort campers to and from Catalina Island aboard a large charter boat (700-passenger) leaving from the Queen Mary Terminal in Long Beach.

Getting to Catalina Island is easy by air and sea. Travelers can take advantage of the following modes of transportation:

This convenience makes it a popular destination for both day trips and longer stays, allowing more people to enjoy its underwater treasures.

3. Necessary Certifications

To dive off Catalina Island, obtaining an open water scuba certification from a recognized organization such as PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) or NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) ensures that divers have the fundamental skills and knowledge for safe diving practices.

For those interested in exploring deeper sites or more challenging conditions, advanced open water certification is recommended, providing additional training in navigation, deep diving, buoyancy control, and other specialized skills.

Many dive shops on Catalina Island offer these certification courses, making it convenient for visitors to get certified or advance their diving qualifications while enjoying the island’s beautiful underwater environment.

4. Scuba Diving Equipment

To dive off Catalina Island, you’ll need essential scuba gear including:

Additionally, dive accessories such as a dive knife, underwater torch, surface signaling devices (whistle and surface marker buoy), and a dive flag are important for safety and convenience.

Visitors can rent or purchase high-quality scuba equipment from local dive shops in Avalon and Two Harbors, such as Catalina Divers Supply and Two Harbors Dive & Recreation Center, which also offer guided dives and certification courses.

scuba divers on catalina island

Catalina Scuba Diving Can’t-Miss Spots!

Casino Point Dive Park

kelp forest catalina island scuba diving

Location: Avalon

Casino Point Dive Park is a protected marine reserve and one of the most popular shore dive sites on Catalina Island. With an easy shore entry, it’s perfect for divers of all levels. The site features vibrant kelp forests, rocky reefs, and several small wrecks.

Divers can encounter Garibaldi fish, bat rays, octopuses, and sometimes even giant sea bass. The park’s clear waters and abundant marine life make it a must-visit spot.

Lovers Cove

scuba diving catalina island lovers cove

Location: Avalon

Lover’s Cove is a calm, shallow site known for its rich marine biodiversity. As a marine life refuge, it offers a unique diving experience with swarms of colorful fish, sea stars, and eels.

The shallow depths (20-40 feet) and gentle conditions make it ideal for beginner divers and snorkelers. The cove’s rocky formations and vibrant underwater ecosystem provide a visually stunning and serene diving environment.

Blue Cavern Point

scuba diving catalina island blue cavern point

Location: West end of Catalina Island

Blue Cavern Point is renowned for its dramatic underwater topography, including large caves and caverns. Accessible by boat, this site is suited for more experienced divers due to its deeper waters and occasional strong currents.

The caverns are home to diverse marine life such as spiny lobsters, moray eels, and various fish species. The impressive rock formations and the play of light within the caverns create an unforgettable diving experience.

Eagle Reef

Location: Near Two Harbors

Eagle Reef is a boat-accessible site featuring rocky reefs and diverse marine habitats. The depths range from 40 to 100 feet, making it suitable for intermediate to advanced divers. The site boasts lush kelp forests, large schools of fish, lobsters, and nudibranchs.

The reef’s rich biodiversity and the beauty of the underwater landscape make it a favorite among divers looking for a varied and exciting dive.

Little Farnsworth

Little Farnsworth Catalina Island Scuba Diving

Location: Off the coast, near the Isthmus

Little Farnsworth is an advanced dive site characterized by its deep pinnacles and steep drop-offs. Depths range from 70 to 120 feet, and the site often has strong currents, making it suitable for experienced divers.

The underwater scenery includes vibrant purple hydrocoral, large sea fans, and diverse invertebrates. Sightings of giant black sea bass and other pelagic species are common, adding to the allure of this challenging and rewarding dive spot.

Learn to Scuba Dive and Much More with Catalina Sea Camp!

Catalina Sea Camp offers immersive one-week, two-week, and three-week sessions that provide a unique blend of marine science education, scuba diving, and outdoor adventure for kids and teenagers.

The camp’s structured programs are designed to foster a deep appreciation for the ocean, hands-on learning experiences, and personal growth. Participants gain valuable skills in scuba diving, marine biology, and water sports, while also building confidence, independence, and teamwork.

With a focus on both education and fun, campers enjoy activities such as snorkeling, sailing, and kayaking, alongside engaging in interactive marine science labs and field explorations.

The stunning natural setting of Catalina Island enhances the experience, offering a safe and inspiring environment for campers to explore the wonders of the marine world, develop lifelong friendships, and create unforgettable memories. See what camp sessions are right for your kid!