Catalina’s Famous Glass Bottom Boats

Glass bottom boats tours on Catalina Island have been running for decades – and there’s a good reason – they are just that popular with visitors to the island. If you aren’t familiar with what a glass bottom boat looks like, essentially it’s a normal boat, with seating on both sides facing the center, and a glass bottom in the middle. You look directly down into Catalina’s kelp forest, and the teeming masses of opaleye, striped bass, bat rays, and bright orange garibaldi, to name a few of the species commonly seen. The tour lasts about 40-45 minutes, and departs at multiple times daily.

Glass bottom boats tours visit the famous Lover’s Cove Marine preserve. This Catalina’s go-to spot for snorkeling, glass bottom boats, semi-submersibles, and kayaking, etc. Reason being, the reef here is so abundant and teeming with a variety of fish. The area is protected and boat traffic here is also restricted.

If you plan to be on Catalina Island during the summer, the glass bottom boat night tours are pretty cool. You get to see a whole different cross section of marine life like spiny lobsters, moray eels, and horn sharks, to name a few. Note: As of summer 2011 – Catalina Adventure Tours in NOT offering the night tour. Discovery Tours requires your group to charter the night tour – call (800) 626 1496 for reservations.

Recently, glass bottom kayak rentals became available on the island. Now you can rent a two person glass bottom kayak and paddle over to Lover’s Cove, where you look down into the kelp forest right from your own personal window into the sea. More info on this below! Note: the one-hour guided tour is not available right now.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour operators

Catalina Adventure Tours

Catalina Adventure Tours operate the “Sea View” glass bottom boat. Their guides are excellent at identifying fish, marine plants, and other undersea inhabitants. Tours operate at preset times during the day, and during the summer months – night tours are available as well. At night, the Sea View uses 18,000 watts of light to illuminate the reef and kelp forest so you get to see and entirely different spectrum of sea life. You can feed the fish through specially designed feeding tubes, and ignite a feeding frenzy right below you. Fish food costs $1.50 per shot, so don’t get too trigger happy!

Tour Times during the summer: 10:15am, 11:15am, 12:15pm (break for lunch) 1:45pm, 2:45pm, 3:45pm, 4:45pm. Tours depart less frequently during the winter: 11:45am, 12:45pm (break for lunch) 1:45pm, 2:45pm.

Prices as listed on their website are $18 for adults, $16.50 for seniors, and $14 for children ages 3-11. Night-time tours are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $16 for children. These prices do not include the 7% Harbor Use Fee. So, adults actually pay $20.39, seniors $18.79, and children $16.11.

You can book these tours when you arrive at the Catalina boat landing. There is a kiosk in the building right on the landing – you can’t miss it. If you want to bundle your glass bottom boat tour with another tour, you can save about 10-20%. Present your AAA membership card for a discount – applicable to single adults only – reducing the adult fare to the senior price.

For more information visit or call (877) 510 2888.

Discovery Tours

Discovery Tours operate glass bottom boat tours daily. Peer down into crystal clear blue water at Lover’s Cove Marine Sanctuary from comfortable seats aboard their spacious vessel.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour times: Monday-Friday 12:30PM, 1:30PM, 2:30PM. Saturday-Sunday 11:30AM, 12:30PM, 1:30PM, 2:30PM. Day trip and night trip tour times subject to change based on season.

Prices are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for children. Night-time tours are the same price. Note: their prices also do not include the 7% Harbor Use Fee, so add a couple bucks to each fare.

Discovery Tours is located at 1 Island Plaza, Avalon, CA 90704 (at the ferry boat landing). Visit for more information or call (310) 510 TOUR.

Wet Spot Rentals: Glass Bottom Kayak Rentals

Glass bottom kayaks are new to Catalina in the last couple years, and they’re fun. You can either rent the kayak yourself and paddle around, or take their one-hour guided tour of Lover’s Cove. Children under 50lbs ride free with an adult, so if you have small children, they ride for free. One note – you can’t land the glass bottom kayak..

Glass Bottom Kayak rental prices: $20/hr (website says $25 – but it hasn’t been updated)

Wet Spot Rentals is located at 120 Pebbly Beach Road, P.O. Box 231, Avalon, CA 90704. For more information and reservations visit or call (310) 510 2229.

Money saving tip: Print this coupon and bring it with you to get $5 OFF glass bottom kayak tour! The coupon is valid for any rental at Wet Spot Rentals, but wait – there’s more! You must spend $20 or more, one coupon per rental, valid for rentals before noon only… It’s always in the fine print!

Video: Aboard the glass bottom boat, looking down through the window at schooling fish.