The Best Guided Snorkeling Tours and Boat Trips on Catalina Island
Catalina Island is a snorkeling paradise. The nearshore waters are literally teeming with all types of fish, sea mammals, and invertebrates. If you go snorkeling on your own, you’ll see a lot, but you’ll also miss a lot. An experienced tour guide knows how to find some of the more elusive sea creatures, and it can really enrich your experience.
While there are a dozen or more places to rent snorkeling gear on Catalina, there are just a few guided snorkeling tours. Going with a tour vs. on your own is cool because you can get access to some of the less busy snorkeling spots up Catalina’s west coast. Normally if you’re on your own, Lover’s Cove Marine Sanctuary would be your only good option. Lover’s Cove is awesome, but it is fun to see more of the coast and get out of town.
Another benefit of the guided snorkeling tour is supervision. If you have kids who want to go, but you don’t fancy a dip in the Pacific yourself, you can count on the guide to keep them safe while you hang out back on shore, or on the boat.
The only real restriction on any of the snorkeling tours is that you must be able to swim, the will not accept non-swimmers.
On this page, you’ll be able to read about each snorkeling tour, and make a decision so you can start planning your Catalina trip.
Catalina Snorkeling Tour Operators
Catalina Dive Shop
Catalina Dive Shop offers an excellent snorkeling tour of Lover’s Cove called the Marine Eco-Tour. Far more than just a snorkeling adventure, you’ll learn about Catalina’s algae based ecosystem, how algae supports the giant kelp forests, and it’s many inhabitants. During your snorkeling tour, the instructors free dove to the bottom to bring up sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, lobsters and sometimes even an octopus for you to inspect up close. Your dive guide will also feed the fish right in front of you so you can witness a full-on feeding frenzy right before your eyes. Commonly seen fish at Lover’s Cove include bright orange garibaldi (California state fish), sheephead, calico bass, senorita fish, blacksmith, opaleye and kelp fish.
When you arrive at Lover’s Cove, the instructor will issue you your mask, snorkel, fins, snorkeling vest, and wetsuit and explain the basics of snorkeling. Specialty items like prescription masks and view rafts are also available.
Snorkeling Tour – Marine Eco-Tour of Lover’s Cove: Duration: 45mins (allow 90 minutes from start to finish). Adults/Seniors/Children $45. Included snorkeling equipment.
For more information and reservations visit www.catalinadiveshop.com or cal (310) 510 8558.
Catalina Diver’s Supply
Catalina Diver’s Supply offers daily guided snorkeling tours of Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve. Snorkeling Tours meet every day on the Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon, and depart at 2pm. If the 2pm end up being sold out – they will usually run a second snorkeling tour at 4pm. Minimum party of 2 persons. IF you have a group of 6 or more, you can schedule a different departure time earlier in the day. Be sure to check-in and be at the pier 20-45mins before departure.
Want to cruise out of Avalon Harbor on a full service dive boat for your snorkeling adventure? Their boat the “Scuba Cat” departs the Pier every day at 9am or 10am, to parts known only by the dive masters in he area. Snorkelers with their own equipment are $55. Catalina Island Diver’s Supply can also rent you a mask, fins, snorkel, and wetsuit for $85 if you ain’t packin’.
Catalina Diver’s Supply is located at #7 Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon, CA 90704. For more information and reservations, visit www.catalinadiverssupply.com or call (800) 353 0330.
Catalina Ocean Rafting
Catalina Ocean Rafting offers three different snorkeling tours. Regardless of which option you choose, you would be head up Catalina’s west coast towards Two Harbors, to some of the less accessible snorkeling spots. I’m going to use their tour #’s here, so it makes sense if you decide to book with them. They sell sodas and bottled water aboard the boat, and fish food and cameras can be purchased before you head out to sea. More on that in a minute…
1 1/4 hr Snorkeling Tour #801: This tour departs six times per day. Travel by high speed inflatable raft towards Long Point (west of Avalon) to one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. All your snorkeling gear is included.
Snorkeling Tour Package #801: Adults $39, Children (ages 5-11) $29.
1 1/4 hr Snorkeling Tour + Ferry Package #87: Bundle and save! this is the same snorkeling tour as #801, but it also includes round trip fare aboard the Catalina Express (departs from Long Beach), and a packet of discount coupons you can redeem at some of the better shops, boutiques, and restaurants in Avalon.
Snorkeling Tour Package #87: Adults $108.50, Seniors (55+) $102, Children (ages 5-11) $83.
1 1/4 hr Snorkeling Tour + Ferry + Electric Bike Package #104: Same as package #87, but with a two hour electric bike rental added in. Children are not eligible for this package because you must be at least 18 yrs old to rent the electric bikes.
Snorkeling Tour Package #104: Adults $133.50, Seniors (55+) $127.
Catalina Ocean Rafting offers a number of extras that you can purchase before you head out to sea. Fish food is $2.50 (online) or $3.30 on the day. They also carry underwater cameras for $11.20 (online) or $14.20 on the day. Finally, and this is pretty cool, they offer a video mask rental for $25 (online) or $28 on the day. When you finish your day, they burn you a CD with your P.O.V. dive adventure in .mov format.
Catalina Ocean Rafting is located at 103 Pebbly Beach Road, Avalon. For more information and reservations visit www.catalinaoceanrafting.com/ or call (310) 510 RAFT or toll free (800) 990 RAFT.
Snorkeling Catalina offers two guided snorkeling tours. Explore Lover’s Cove Marine Sanctuary or go west along the coast to their ‘secret spot’ on the two hour guided tour. Lockers and change rooms are provided back on shore.
1 hour Guided Snorkeling Tour of Lover’s Cove: Snorkeling Catalina offers one hour guided snorkeling tours to Lover’s Cove daily. Jump on board a high speed, hard-bottom power raft, and head to Lover’s Cove. Once there, Experienced guides take you on a tour of the kelp forest, and point out many different types of fish.
Attention non-swimmers!!! You must be comfortable in the water, but you do not necessarily have to know how to swim to go on this tour.
Adults/Children $38. Price doesn’t include taxes and additional fees.
Tour times: 9:00am, 10:00am, 11:15am, 12:15pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:45pm.
2 hour Snorkeling Boat Trip: Snorkeling Catalina offers a two hour guided snorkeling tours to their secret spot up the west coast of Catalina. you’ll be taken by high speed, hard-bottom power raft up the coastline, to a secluded bay to snorkel. No non-swimmers allowed on this tour.
Adults $50, Children & Active Military $45, Riders (non-snorkeling passengers) $25. Prices do not include taxes and additional fees.
Tour times: 10:00am, 11:15am, 12:15pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:45pm
1 1/4 hour Snorkeling Boat Trip: Same as above, only shorter!
Tour times: 9:00am, 10:00am, 11:15am, 12:15pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:45pm.
For more information and reservations visit www.snorkelingcatalina.com or call (562) 547 4185 or toll free (877) 218 9156.
Scuba Luv Snorkeling Tours
Scuba Luv offers three great (and unique) guided snorkeling packages.
Eco-Snorkel Tour: Ready to learn about Catalina’s inter-tidal zone and kelp forest ecology? This is a 90 minute educational snorkeling tour where you will meet the inhabitants of the nearshore waters face to face and learn all about their habitat. Equipment included. Adults, Seniors, Children $55.
Guided Snorkeling Tour of Lover’s Cove: Scuba Luv’s PADI certified instructors teach you how to snorkel, then lead a guided tour of Lover’s Cove Marin Sanctuary. It’s the perfect place for kids and beginners. Tour last 90 minutes. If you want to continue at the end of the tour, you can hang onto your snorkeling equipment for the rest of the day – good deal! Adults, Seniors, Children $45.
All Day Snorkeling Trip: Charter the “King Neptune” dive boat and choose from 150 possible snorkeling sites within 45 miles of coastline. The boat is equipped with a full galley, two heads (toilets), and sun protection out on deck. Boat check-in is at 8:15am, departure at 9am. Return to Avalon between 4 and 6pm. This tour includes breakfast, lunch, and a light snack in the late afternoon. Bring your own snorkeling equipment or rent from Scuba Luv for $15. Adults, Seniors, Children $67.