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Explore Catalina’s underwater world

a person swimming in the water

As soon as they step off the Catalina Island ferry, visitors to this Southern California vacation destination are drawn to the water. One glimpse into the crystal clear waters at the boat terminal and travelers can spot an array of marine life – bright orange garibaldi in particular. With their distinctive color and ubiquitous presence, the California state marine fish has become an unofficial mascot for the island.

As eye-catching as they may be, garibaldi are only just the beginning of the fascinating array of marine life that can be encountered in Catalina Island. Snorkeling and scuba diving on Catalina Island are some of the most popular ways to explore. Underwater adventurers will discover a staggering diversity of marine life, including giant black sea bass, playful sea lions, graceful bat rays, menacing morays, clever octopus, tasty spiny lobster and hypnotizing schools of bait fish.

This ever-changing wonderland attracts scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts from around the country. Whether your dive log is packed with past adventures or you’re just getting wet for the first time, Catalina Island’s underwater world is the perfect spot to explore. The Catalina Island water temperature can be a bit brisk, so most divers and snorkelers opt for a wet suit. Most days they are rewarded with visibility approaching 100 feet and a compelling adventure that will call them back again and again.

a close up of an orange underwater

Scuba diving on Catalina Island. Photo courtesy Catalina Divers Supply.