How Much Does It Cost to Go Scuba Diving?

Scuba diving has become so popular these days as an interesting and exciting sport, making more and more people interested in the activity.

These newbies may have numerous questions in mind about this adventurous sport, and “how much does it cost to go scuba diving?” is one of the top concerns.

This question often does not have an exact answer. Rather, it depends. You may have to pay for a diving course or at least a coaching to learn the necessary skill when getting started. You also need to spend on equipment, gear, and more.

So, How much does it cost to go scuba diving? What do you have to pay for? Which factors may affect these costs? Here is a price range with a detailed explanation for your reference. Let’s get started now!

Table of Contents

How Much Does a Scuba Diving Course Cost?

Obviously, scuba diving is an exciting but challenging sport. If you go diving without necessary skills and adequate understanding, you may risk your life. Therefore, the first thing to do is take a course and learn how to dive properly.

Currently, the demand for participating in training courses is increasing. Thus, tons of diving training courses are widely available.

Most beginner training programs go through three stages:

  • Learn diving theory
  • Practice skills in shallow water
  • Open water diving

For theory, you can choose to study online or offline. Most centers are providing e-learning courses at a lower price than offline classes. You’ll normally pay around $70 to $190 for online class materials.

Instructor teaches students to dive

Together with the theoretical class, you also have to pay for practicing. Therefore, when adding the payment for shallow water and open water diving, the cost is estimated from $250 to $350.

To become a professional or qualified diver, you may need a diving certificate. You often need to pay additionally for the certificate, which will cost differently depending on the center and region.

For example, it will cost you $325 or $345 for 4 certified dives in Grand Cayman. If you’re in Cozumel, you’ll pay between $297 and $325. Going to Roatan, Honduras, will cost you about $220 – $280 to get the certificate.

Thus, to get 4 certified swims will cost you about $220 – $345. This price may change seasonally and annually, depending on many factors like the center you take tests in, your chosen area and some other elements.

So, to complete a course and get a certificate, you will have to pay between $450 – $650.

You can also save money by practicing at a local or family pool. However, as no instructor will assist and give you feedback, the risk of inaccuracies or accidents probably increases.

This can be life-threatening if you dive into the real sea. So, you’re better off making a well-deserved investment once.

You can learn more about the difference between some diving courses here: NAUI vs. PADI or SSI vs. PADI.

How Much Does Diving Equipment Cost?

scuba diving equipment

In addition to learning, diving equipment is also an indispensable factor you need to prepare well before entering the water. Some of the most essential items may include dive watches, dive computers, scuba BCD, scuba regulator, mask, scuba fins, etc.

Among them, the scuba mask and fins are the things you have to invest in first as they’re not too expensive. Specifically, the mask will cost $20 – 200, while the fins range from $20 – $25.

Therefor, you will spend $40 – $225 for the above 2 items, depending on the quality, brand, professionalism and other factors. Of course, very cheap items are not recommended, instead, you’d better consider the higher-quality and usable equipment. You can check out my review on some good full-face masks here.

The next important device that you must have is the scuba BCD. Normally, divers spend between $130 – $1300 on this item. If you don’t aim at becoming a professional diver, a good-quality BCD of around $500 could be a smart option.

Want to get a good BCD for your next scuba diving trip? Check out my article on some of the best travel BCDs here.

In addition, a dive computer is an indispensable safety device that is well worth the investment. You can buy a high-quality computer for $2000 or a mid-range one for $150-$500. Learn more about How to use a dive computer here.

Such diving equipment may seem expensive, but you must be aware that your life in the water depends significantly on those items. So, don’t prioritize price over quality.

If you have a limited budget, find a way to buy them as a set to get a better price. If possible, you can also try to hunt for discount codes from e-commerce stores for reasonable prices.

In case you have more budget to spend, you can invest in high-end items with excellent quality. You may also consider buying supportive devices or accessories like a GoPro for a better experience.

However, there is no need to worry too much about the cost even if you don’t have any money for equipment since there are also many places to rent these items now. A new dive computer can be several thousand dollars, but the rental price is only around ten dollars.

This is quite a small amount, and you will have the opportunity to experience high-quality equipment. Also, you can take the chance to get used to the equipment and try different types. In that way, you’ll know which items best suit you.

With masks and fins, you’d better buy yourself a set because the apparel directly touches your skin or covers your body.

Additional Costs to Go Scuba Diving

maldives scuba diving center

Besides the above costs, your scuba diving trip will cost a little more if you use a boat, stay at a hotel and use high-class services.

Many group divers often hire boats to go diving. Therefore, you will have to pay an extra fee to rent a boat. The price per rental will depend on many factors, but normally the price range is as below:

  • Sailboats: $10,000 – $200,000 for size 80 – 150ft.
  • Catamaran: $10,000 – $100,000 for size 50 – 80ft
  • Motor yachts: $20,000 – $500,000 for 80 – 150ft.

The above price also varies depending on factors like the quality or luxury of the boat. Plus, in the peak diving season, the rental price can be many times higher.

Besides, the cost for accommodations is also considerable. It’s hard to estimate exactly the amount you need to spend on accommodation because it depends on the quality and location of the hotel you choose.

The time and length of your stay may also affect the price of the room. Typically, a normal and average place will cost about $99 – $125.

Meanwhile, finer hotels will cost you $325 – $475. This is the rental price for 1 week, and of course, not the price of luxurious places.

FAQs

To give you more insights into the cost of scuba diving, I’ve gathered and answered some common questions that beginners often ask.

Is Scuba Diving an Expensive Hobby?

Scuba diving is indeed an expensive hobby. As mentioned above, you have to spend around $450 – $650 to get a certification to dive around the world. After that, you need to pay $200 – $2000 on scuba diving equipment. Besides, each dive will cost you about $50 – $70.

Thus, the total cost of a perfect scuba diving trip is $700 – $2720, which is a lot of money for a sport. Overall, though, you’ll find it worth the money.

In addition, certification and diving equipment cost only one time. The next time you only spend about $50 $70. So, if you look at the long-term direction, diving is completely suitable for everyone.

Do I Need to Buy My Own Diving Equipment?

Diving aids are essential, but you don’t necessarily have to own them. Advice for beginners is that you just need a mask, air hose, fins, and a wetsuit. These need to fit your body and, when diving in tight positions like a liveaboard, they are very convenient.

For more expensive and advanced machines, you can rent them easily when you go diving. However, if you are a professional diver and make a living by this profession, there is no reason not to prepare these items.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Scuba Certified in Florida?

In Florida, they offer a full range of diving equipment for you to rent from $5 to $50, depending on the item. You can choose to rent each item or the whole set.

Their one-time scuba diving price in Florida will be distributed as follows:

  • Bubble Watcher Adult: $60
  • Bubble Watcher children under 12 years old: $55
  • 2 tank diving trip: $80
  • Night diving trip by tank: $65
  • Tank tech dive trip: $85
  • 3 tank diving trip: $120

How Much Is Scuba Diving in California?

It will cost you $100 – $150 per person on a 1-tank dive and $200 – $250 for a 2-tank dive in California.

How Much Is Scuba Diving in Miami?

Prices in Miami are quite similar to those in Florida. So you can check the prices in Florida before you want to go on diving trips here.

Conclusion

How much does it cost to go scuba diving? A rather large amount of money, but it has long-term benefits. So, instead of confusing yourself with tons of questions, start learning and preparing today!

If you find my content below useful, please share it with your diving friends. Also, don’t forget to encourage me by supporting the related articles!

  • Why Do Scuba Divers Dive Backwards?
  • How Deep Can You Scuba Dive?
  • Do You Need to Know How to Swim to Scuba Dive?

About Scott Maldonado

Hi, I am Scott Maldonado, the founder of diveaeris.com. You are welcome to this website. Diving is so much fun, and I’ve got a flair for it. With many diving sessions under my belt, I have transformed from just an experienced diver to a professional instructor.
I will love to contribute to your development as a diver. Therefore, I will be engaging my years of experience by discussing anything related to diving on this website.
Read more about me.

Scuba Diving in Catalina Island, California: The Unrivaled Guide in 2022

Scuba diving is a great way to plunge into the crystal-clear water and enjoy stunning seascapes. And Catalina Island is a place where you can do that with plenty of fun. Its famous lush kelp forests and diverse sea life has attracted thousands of divers visiting here every year.

Diving on Catalina Island has something for everyone, from professionals to complete novices. Discover the splendid undersea beauty with colorful fish species and gorgeous aquatic palaces. Catalina Island is perfect for long vacations and day trips with numerous things to do.

If you plan to pay a visit to Catalina Island this summer, there is some helpful information to know. This article has been written to clear your thoughts about where to go, when to go, and what to bring.

Besides, I have also suggested a few reliable dive operators and the best resorts to stay at. So, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Best Dive Spots in Catalina Island, California

Scuba diving brings a lot of fun; however, it would be best if you knew how to get incredible experiences during your trip. I have highlighted the top five best dive spots on Catalina Island for you to consider below.

Read Post  Under Pressure - Scuba Diving Risks

I also attached detailed information about each site as well as what you could see when diving there. Let’s start learning!

1. Italian Gardens

The waters around Italian Gardens are found off Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island’s east coast and only accessed by boat. Its emerald kelp forests are from 30 to 100 feet below the surface. Meanwhile, the maximum depth is up to 130 feet, ideal for advanced divers to visit.

This dive location has rich marine life, including lobsters, abalone, kelpfish, Garibaldi, octopus, and nudibranchs. Of course, the giant black sea bass is a typical inhabitant here, and you often see it from July to October.

Diving in Italian Gardens is relatively easy with mild currents. Also, its blue water is best for underwater photography, especially wide-angle shots. Although novice people can dive here, they must always carefully take care of their scuba fins to avoid getting entangled in the kelp.

Ethereal-kelp-forests

2. Casino Point Dive Park

Casino Point is not only a mecca for beginners to scuba dive in Southern California but also an exceptional choice for snorkelers worldwide. That’s thanks to its ideal diving conditions combined with diverse marine life.

The crystal clear water is warm all year round, while excellent visibility makes it easy to see underwater without a scuba light. Besides, this place offers you a wide range of depths from 10 to 75 feet, perfect for both shallow divers and advanced adventures.

However, it is highly recommended that you not dive beyond your limits. See the reasons here: How Deep Can You Scuba Dive!

Traveling to Casino Point is straightforward because it is located a few miles from Avalon’s ferry station. This means that your exploration into the sea at Casino Point can be done within a day, helping you spend time visiting other fantastic dive sites.

Although Casino Point is rated for novice divers, its challenging underwater topography also attracts a lot of professionals to explore.

Craggy rock walls, massive boulders, sharp pinnacles, and a sandy seabed at this dive spot are typical characteristics that cannot be found in other areas.

The undersea world at Casino Point gives you plenty to see, including endemic sea animals, majestic shipwrecks, and enchanted kelp forests. Its marine life is teeming with schools of colorful fish species, spiny lobsters, sea urchins, moray eels, and so on.

In addition, vibrant anemones also decorate your view, while Garibaldi – the iconic fish of California, is commonly seen here. Besides, take some time to tour several deep wrecks where angel sharks, horn sharks, and bat rays make their home.

It is simple to spot strongly thriving kelp forests and their frequent residents, such as giant kelpfish, California sheephead, and massive black sea bass. These rare sea creatures often swim freely along the forest’s outer edges; hence, you can find them anytime during your dive.

Nevertheless, some animals are only active at night, so you cannot see them except when the sun goes down. But remember that you must be at least 12 years old to attend a night dive. My article titled How Old Do You Have to Be to Scuba Dive explains why.

Night-time diving requires excellent navigation and communication through the dark, but I believe it is a beautiful experience. You will adventure into an unknown world where you have a chance to broaden your knowledge about nocturnal aquatic life.

The Youtube video below explores why Casino Point is a hotspot for visitors.

3. Isthmus Cove

Isthmus Cove provides you with three nearby dive sites: Lion’s Head, Cherry Cove, and Bird Rock. Thanks to that, you always find something suitable regardless of your experience level. While intermediate divers most favor Cherry Cove, the rest is perfect for beginners.

Lion’s Head is the best choice for fish photography due to its abundant sea life. It is common for you to spot mantis shrimp, bat rays, moray eels, octopus, leopard sharks, and kelpfish here. The surface is stable with no current, while the maximum depth is only 60 feet, ideal for shore divers.

Bird Rock is full of rock walls and reefs, which are home to a variety of marine life such as crabs, lobsters, jellyfish, and bat rays. This place is one of a few diving spots on Catalina Island, enabling you to see playful harbor seals.

Majestic underwater rock formations are one of the most remarkable structures to see in Cherry Cove. Experienced divers mainly visit this location due to its maximum depth of 90 feet and moderate currents. Leopard sharks and giant sea bass are common sightings as well.

Isthmus-Cove-has-epic-scuba-diving

4. Blue Cavern Point

Blue Cavern Point caters to divers as a marine reserve with stunning caves and a flourishing aquatic ecosystem. It has become home to numerous sea animals, including soupfin sharks, sea lions, harbor seals, and giant black sea bass.

Because most caverns are shallow, Blue Cavern Point is an incredible option for shore diving and drift diving. Also, it is suitable for diving all year round, thanks to warm waters and excellent visibility. Located far offshore Catalina Island, this spot is highly accessible by a private boat.

However, this place comes with strong currents and a maximum depth of up to 130 feet, restricting it only to professional people.

Blue-Cavern-Point-Catalina-Island

5. Farnsworth Bank

Located two miles off the backside of Catalina Island, this diving destination provides scuba enthusiasts with incredible experiences.

However, due to strong currents, unstable weather conditions, and a substantial maximum depth of up to 150 feet, this place is only suitable for advanced or certified people.

The abundant marine life is truly their reward for reckless adventurers visiting here. Farnsworth Bank is a perfect home to the rare Purple Hydrocoral, a kind of hard coral living in an icy climate.

This plant type is one of the endemic coral species in California; thus, you cannot see it in other locations. The stunning purple color functions as an excellent backdrop for underwater photography.

It also contributes to highlighting bright orange Garibaldi, lingcod, and colorful reef fish. In addition, Farnsworth’s prolific marine life boasts having various uncommon animals like white seabass, yellowtail, torpedo rays, etc.

Aside from scuba diving, many other extreme water sports such as kayaking, surfing, and windsurfing can be done in Farnsworth Bank. The unique terrain combined with large swells and massive underwater pinnacles makes this dive site become a paradise for thrill-seekers.

In terms of transportation, this spot is accessed only by boat. Most local dive operators place Farnsworth Bank as the final destination in their journey to scuba dive in Los Angeles.

The following video reviews Farnsworth Bank’s rich marine life. Learn some valuable tips about identifying fish species with it.

Divers Guide

The-azure-waters-of-Catalina-Island

You cannot make your journey to Catalina Island perfect without preparing well. That’s why this section has come to help. After you read the following tips, your priority about what to bring and when to go will be more transparent.

1. Best Time to Dive in Catalina Island

Catalina Island is suitable for scuba diving all the seasons throughout the year, thanks to its subtropical climate. Choosing which time is best to visit depends on your preferences and budget. Here is a comparison of the two most popular seasons for tourists: summer and winter.

Summer monthsWinter months
Advantages● Warmer water temperature.
● Perfect for family vacations.
● Most aquatic sports, including kayaking, surfing, and so on, can be done this time.
● Ideal for on-land activities such as camping, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and so on.
● The best choice for people who love nightlife.
● More affordable hotels and housing.
● Easier to book a tour.
● The water visibility is clearer.
● Great time to see giant kelp forests strongly thrive.
Disadvantages● More crowded.
● Higher hotel and housing costs.
● Need to book a tour in advance.
● Dropping water temperature causes heat loss more effortlessly.
● A wetsuit is a must for scuba divers.
● Harder to take family vacations.

2. Dive Conditions

The ideal weather conditions make Catalina Island diveable all year round. The warmest water temperature is during summer, which ranges from 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the water is coldest in winter when the average temperature falls between 50 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Icy divers will most love visiting Catalina Island in January and February since this period offers the fewest crowds. Although scuba diving in summer does not require thick insulation suits, keeping the body warm is imperative to dive during the winter months.

That’s because the freezing water is more prone to excessive heat loss, which results in severe health dangers or even deaths. See more risks caused by poor thermal retention with the following article: How Dangerous Is Scuba Diving.

The underwater visibility at Catalina Island is perfect for scuba diving from July to December, with September to November the best. Diving during the winter months provides you with excellent water visibility, ranging from 40 and 60 feet.

Thanks to that, it is simple for you to admire the abundance of Catalina Island’s marine life as well as take a lot of amazing pictures using your scuba camera. In contrast, summer is not the time giving the best visibility, especially between April and June, due to plankton blooms.

The high density of plankton often clouds the water, which lowers your visibility. On bad days, you cannot even see more than 20 feet. However, summer and fall are frequently visited by black sea bass and large bait balls, making your trip more fun and fascinating.

Catalina Island offers various dive sites whose maximum depth changes considerably from 20 to 130 feet. Nevertheless, strong currents can occasionally appear in some dive spots; thus, you need to check whether your destination requires advanced levels or not before visiting.

3. How to Get There

There are two common ways to reach Catalina Island. The first one is catching a 15-minute flight on a helicopter from the California mainland, which can cost you a lot. Meanwhile, joining an hour-long ferry ride is economical for most scuba divers.

You will take a passenger ferry that departs from Long Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point, or San Pedro. Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer are two of the most reliable companies delivering this service.

The average cost for a round-trip ticket is often $75, enabling you to save a lot of money for other water activities. In addition, the most exciting feature of ferry rides is that they give tourists a chance to get a free whale-watching tour on the road.

Catalina Island is also accessed by private boats that pick up visitors from Costa Rica. However, this choice is less popular than the two above because it is regularly a part of scuba tours operated by local dive shops.

4. What to Bring

You must bring at least a 7mm wetsuit to combat the icy waters at Catalina Island. If you visit this place in summer, a 5mm model is highly recommended. Seasoned divers can wear drysuits to keep them warm better.

Consider many different kinds of clothing to wear under your wetsuit by reading my article about What to Wear Scuba Diving. Besides, you need to bring other vital equipment such as scuba tanks, scuba regulators, and weight pockets.

Scuba tanks, with the support of primary and secondary regulators, will ensure you have enough air to breathe underwater. In addition, weight pockets built into your scuba BCD allow you to achieve neutral buoyancy more easily.

Nevertheless, these types of dive gear are usually bulky to pack into your suitcase; hence, it is a good idea to rent them from local dive operators at a reasonable price point. Additionally, some essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, and beach towels should be included as well.

It is advisable to include an air-integrated dive computer and a scuba light to maximize your safety. While the dive computer can connect to your scuba tanks to track air consumption rate and bottom time, the dive light gives you excellent underwater navigation.

In case you cannot afford high-end models, see cost-efficient dive computers here. Likewise, a dive watch is another incredible option for tight-budget people. If you have no idea about using a dive computer, learn here: How to Use a Dive Computer!

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Best Dive Operators in Catalina Island California

Knowing where to book a guided tour is the primary thing to do on Catalina Island, especially if this is the first time you have come here. Among numerous local dive operators available, it is not an easy task to find out which is the most reliable.

For this reason, I have compiled a list of popular dive shops on Catalina Island that you should go for.

  • Diving Catalina – offers wonderful trips to Casino Point, sells gift cards, and rents dive gear. Call (310) 510-8558 and visit https://divingcatalina.com/ for more details.
  • Catalina Scuba – gives scuba tours for divers of all levels, rents high-quality diving equipment, and offers premium services for freedivers and snorkelers. Contact (562) 248-6006 or check its website at https://www.catalinascuba.com/ to book now!
  • Catalina Divers Supply – provides you with affordable gear rental and operates scuba classes, boat dives, and night dives. Phone (310) 510-0330 or visit https://www.catalinadiverssupply.com/ for further information.

Best Resorts in Catalina Island

There are many hotels as well as resorts to stay in on Catalina Island, and all these endless choices come with different services. I will be discussing a few critical factors that may help you make a better decision.

ResortsStarPopular amenitiesAddress & Contact
Hotel Metropole3Spa, beachfront, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning● 205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
● (800) 300-8528
The Edgewater2Beach access, free Wi-Fi, breakfast● 415 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-8474
Catalina Island Inn3Free Wi-Fi, air conditioning● 125 Metropole Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-1623
Catalina Canyon Inn3Pool, free parking, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning● 888 Country Club Dr, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-0325
Seaport Village Inn, Avalon1Free parking, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, beach access● 119 Maiden Ln, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-0344

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions related to scuba diving on Catalina Island? Did you miss some essential information while reading my article? You should take a look at some of the frequently asked questions and their short answers in the section below.

Do You Need a Wetsuit for Catalina?

As I mentioned above, the water temperature at Catalina Island drops considerably during the winter months. Therefore, wearing a wetsuit is a must to have enough thermal protection. In the meantime, it is optional to wear warm clothing in the spring and fall.

Summer is when the water is warmest, so if you are accustomed to cold diving, you can choose not to wear it.

Are There Sharks on Catalina Island?

Scuba diving with sharks is an exciting experience for thrill-seekers when they come to Catalina Island. Fortunately, this place gives you fantastic opportunities to meet a variety of shark species like horn sharks, angel sharks, swell sharks, and white sharks.

Besides, while diving off Catalina Island’s coastline, it is frequent to encounter blue and Mako sharks. As an entry-level diver, these ocean predators are dangerous to approach alone, so please make sure that seasoned divers guide you in emergencies.

Can You See Whales From Catalina Island?

The waters surrounding Catalina Island are bottomless; thus, whales are not common sightings here. Instead, you can see at least six dolphin species along with California’s typical creatures, such as sea lions, harbor seals, and even bald eagles.

Can You Swim on Catalina Island?

Little Harbor is a fabulous beach for swimming, thanks to its stunning sandy and mirror-like water. In addition, its unique terrain also protects it from powerful Pacific waves, making it the safest beach for kids!

Descanso Beach is another beloved destination for swimming lovers. Divers visit here to enjoy pristine beauty, sparkling white sand, and blue water, which is warm throughout the year.

Can You Snorkel in Catalina Island?

Catalina Island provides you with numerous fantastic snorkeling sites such as Lover’s Cove, Casino Point, and Descanso Beach. In case you cannot afford a luxurious underwater camera, let’s go for a GoPro at a lower cost.

This lets you not miss out on capturing gorgeous footage of Catalina undersea wildlife.

Conclusion

Catalina Island is one of the most sought-after diving spots in Southern California. This place has been world-famous for excellent underwater photography and majestic kelp forests. In addition, it is also a haven for not only scuba divers but also snorkelers and aquatic sports enthusiasts.

To sum up, I will choose Casino Point as my favorite diving destination. It would be best if you visited Catalina Island in September due to its pleasant weather conditions. Moreover, traveling by ferry is a cost-efficient way to reach this location, and everyone should try it at least once.

All your suggestions concerning scuba diving on Catalina Island are welcomed. Kindly leave them in the comment section.

Also, I would appreciate it if you would share this informative article with friends and other divers. Kindly click on any of the corresponding social media buttons below.

About Scott Maldonado

Hi, I am Scott Maldonado, the founder of diveaeris.com. You are welcome to this website. Diving is so much fun, and I’ve got a flair for it. With many diving sessions under my belt, I have transformed from just an experienced diver to a professional instructor.
I will love to contribute to your development as a diver. Therefore, I will be engaging my years of experience by discussing anything related to diving on this website.
Read more about me.

Scuba Diving in Catalina Island, California: The Unrivaled Guide in 2022

Scuba diving is a great way to plunge into the crystal-clear water and enjoy stunning seascapes. And Catalina Island is a place where you can do that with plenty of fun. Its famous lush kelp forests and diverse sea life has attracted thousands of divers visiting here every year.

Diving on Catalina Island has something for everyone, from professionals to complete novices. Discover the splendid undersea beauty with colorful fish species and gorgeous aquatic palaces. Catalina Island is perfect for long vacations and day trips with numerous things to do.

If you plan to pay a visit to Catalina Island this summer, there is some helpful information to know. This article has been written to clear your thoughts about where to go, when to go, and what to bring.

Besides, I have also suggested a few reliable dive operators and the best resorts to stay at. So, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Best Dive Spots in Catalina Island, California

Scuba diving brings a lot of fun; however, it would be best if you knew how to get incredible experiences during your trip. I have highlighted the top five best dive spots on Catalina Island for you to consider below.

I also attached detailed information about each site as well as what you could see when diving there. Let’s start learning!

1. Italian Gardens

The waters around Italian Gardens are found off Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island’s east coast and only accessed by boat. Its emerald kelp forests are from 30 to 100 feet below the surface. Meanwhile, the maximum depth is up to 130 feet, ideal for advanced divers to visit.

This dive location has rich marine life, including lobsters, abalone, kelpfish, Garibaldi, octopus, and nudibranchs. Of course, the giant black sea bass is a typical inhabitant here, and you often see it from July to October.

Diving in Italian Gardens is relatively easy with mild currents. Also, its blue water is best for underwater photography, especially wide-angle shots. Although novice people can dive here, they must always carefully take care of their scuba fins to avoid getting entangled in the kelp.

Ethereal-kelp-forests

2. Casino Point Dive Park

Casino Point is not only a mecca for beginners to scuba dive in Southern California but also an exceptional choice for snorkelers worldwide. That’s thanks to its ideal diving conditions combined with diverse marine life.

The crystal clear water is warm all year round, while excellent visibility makes it easy to see underwater without a scuba light. Besides, this place offers you a wide range of depths from 10 to 75 feet, perfect for both shallow divers and advanced adventures.

However, it is highly recommended that you not dive beyond your limits. See the reasons here: How Deep Can You Scuba Dive!

Traveling to Casino Point is straightforward because it is located a few miles from Avalon’s ferry station. This means that your exploration into the sea at Casino Point can be done within a day, helping you spend time visiting other fantastic dive sites.

Although Casino Point is rated for novice divers, its challenging underwater topography also attracts a lot of professionals to explore.

Craggy rock walls, massive boulders, sharp pinnacles, and a sandy seabed at this dive spot are typical characteristics that cannot be found in other areas.

The undersea world at Casino Point gives you plenty to see, including endemic sea animals, majestic shipwrecks, and enchanted kelp forests. Its marine life is teeming with schools of colorful fish species, spiny lobsters, sea urchins, moray eels, and so on.

In addition, vibrant anemones also decorate your view, while Garibaldi – the iconic fish of California, is commonly seen here. Besides, take some time to tour several deep wrecks where angel sharks, horn sharks, and bat rays make their home.

It is simple to spot strongly thriving kelp forests and their frequent residents, such as giant kelpfish, California sheephead, and massive black sea bass. These rare sea creatures often swim freely along the forest’s outer edges; hence, you can find them anytime during your dive.

Nevertheless, some animals are only active at night, so you cannot see them except when the sun goes down. But remember that you must be at least 12 years old to attend a night dive. My article titled How Old Do You Have to Be to Scuba Dive explains why.

Night-time diving requires excellent navigation and communication through the dark, but I believe it is a beautiful experience. You will adventure into an unknown world where you have a chance to broaden your knowledge about nocturnal aquatic life.

The Youtube video below explores why Casino Point is a hotspot for visitors.

3. Isthmus Cove

Isthmus Cove provides you with three nearby dive sites: Lion’s Head, Cherry Cove, and Bird Rock. Thanks to that, you always find something suitable regardless of your experience level. While intermediate divers most favor Cherry Cove, the rest is perfect for beginners.

Lion’s Head is the best choice for fish photography due to its abundant sea life. It is common for you to spot mantis shrimp, bat rays, moray eels, octopus, leopard sharks, and kelpfish here. The surface is stable with no current, while the maximum depth is only 60 feet, ideal for shore divers.

Bird Rock is full of rock walls and reefs, which are home to a variety of marine life such as crabs, lobsters, jellyfish, and bat rays. This place is one of a few diving spots on Catalina Island, enabling you to see playful harbor seals.

Majestic underwater rock formations are one of the most remarkable structures to see in Cherry Cove. Experienced divers mainly visit this location due to its maximum depth of 90 feet and moderate currents. Leopard sharks and giant sea bass are common sightings as well.

Isthmus-Cove-has-epic-scuba-diving

4. Blue Cavern Point

Blue Cavern Point caters to divers as a marine reserve with stunning caves and a flourishing aquatic ecosystem. It has become home to numerous sea animals, including soupfin sharks, sea lions, harbor seals, and giant black sea bass.

Because most caverns are shallow, Blue Cavern Point is an incredible option for shore diving and drift diving. Also, it is suitable for diving all year round, thanks to warm waters and excellent visibility. Located far offshore Catalina Island, this spot is highly accessible by a private boat.

However, this place comes with strong currents and a maximum depth of up to 130 feet, restricting it only to professional people.

Blue-Cavern-Point-Catalina-Island

5. Farnsworth Bank

Located two miles off the backside of Catalina Island, this diving destination provides scuba enthusiasts with incredible experiences.

However, due to strong currents, unstable weather conditions, and a substantial maximum depth of up to 150 feet, this place is only suitable for advanced or certified people.

The abundant marine life is truly their reward for reckless adventurers visiting here. Farnsworth Bank is a perfect home to the rare Purple Hydrocoral, a kind of hard coral living in an icy climate.

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This plant type is one of the endemic coral species in California; thus, you cannot see it in other locations. The stunning purple color functions as an excellent backdrop for underwater photography.

It also contributes to highlighting bright orange Garibaldi, lingcod, and colorful reef fish. In addition, Farnsworth’s prolific marine life boasts having various uncommon animals like white seabass, yellowtail, torpedo rays, etc.

Aside from scuba diving, many other extreme water sports such as kayaking, surfing, and windsurfing can be done in Farnsworth Bank. The unique terrain combined with large swells and massive underwater pinnacles makes this dive site become a paradise for thrill-seekers.

In terms of transportation, this spot is accessed only by boat. Most local dive operators place Farnsworth Bank as the final destination in their journey to scuba dive in Los Angeles.

The following video reviews Farnsworth Bank’s rich marine life. Learn some valuable tips about identifying fish species with it.

Divers Guide

The-azure-waters-of-Catalina-Island

You cannot make your journey to Catalina Island perfect without preparing well. That’s why this section has come to help. After you read the following tips, your priority about what to bring and when to go will be more transparent.

1. Best Time to Dive in Catalina Island

Catalina Island is suitable for scuba diving all the seasons throughout the year, thanks to its subtropical climate. Choosing which time is best to visit depends on your preferences and budget. Here is a comparison of the two most popular seasons for tourists: summer and winter.

Summer monthsWinter months
Advantages● Warmer water temperature.
● Perfect for family vacations.
● Most aquatic sports, including kayaking, surfing, and so on, can be done this time.
● Ideal for on-land activities such as camping, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and so on.
● The best choice for people who love nightlife.
● More affordable hotels and housing.
● Easier to book a tour.
● The water visibility is clearer.
● Great time to see giant kelp forests strongly thrive.
Disadvantages● More crowded.
● Higher hotel and housing costs.
● Need to book a tour in advance.
● Dropping water temperature causes heat loss more effortlessly.
● A wetsuit is a must for scuba divers.
● Harder to take family vacations.

2. Dive Conditions

The ideal weather conditions make Catalina Island diveable all year round. The warmest water temperature is during summer, which ranges from 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the water is coldest in winter when the average temperature falls between 50 to 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Icy divers will most love visiting Catalina Island in January and February since this period offers the fewest crowds. Although scuba diving in summer does not require thick insulation suits, keeping the body warm is imperative to dive during the winter months.

That’s because the freezing water is more prone to excessive heat loss, which results in severe health dangers or even deaths. See more risks caused by poor thermal retention with the following article: How Dangerous Is Scuba Diving.

The underwater visibility at Catalina Island is perfect for scuba diving from July to December, with September to November the best. Diving during the winter months provides you with excellent water visibility, ranging from 40 and 60 feet.

Thanks to that, it is simple for you to admire the abundance of Catalina Island’s marine life as well as take a lot of amazing pictures using your scuba camera. In contrast, summer is not the time giving the best visibility, especially between April and June, due to plankton blooms.

The high density of plankton often clouds the water, which lowers your visibility. On bad days, you cannot even see more than 20 feet. However, summer and fall are frequently visited by black sea bass and large bait balls, making your trip more fun and fascinating.

Catalina Island offers various dive sites whose maximum depth changes considerably from 20 to 130 feet. Nevertheless, strong currents can occasionally appear in some dive spots; thus, you need to check whether your destination requires advanced levels or not before visiting.

3. How to Get There

There are two common ways to reach Catalina Island. The first one is catching a 15-minute flight on a helicopter from the California mainland, which can cost you a lot. Meanwhile, joining an hour-long ferry ride is economical for most scuba divers.

You will take a passenger ferry that departs from Long Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point, or San Pedro. Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer are two of the most reliable companies delivering this service.

The average cost for a round-trip ticket is often $75, enabling you to save a lot of money for other water activities. In addition, the most exciting feature of ferry rides is that they give tourists a chance to get a free whale-watching tour on the road.

Catalina Island is also accessed by private boats that pick up visitors from Costa Rica. However, this choice is less popular than the two above because it is regularly a part of scuba tours operated by local dive shops.

4. What to Bring

You must bring at least a 7mm wetsuit to combat the icy waters at Catalina Island. If you visit this place in summer, a 5mm model is highly recommended. Seasoned divers can wear drysuits to keep them warm better.

Consider many different kinds of clothing to wear under your wetsuit by reading my article about What to Wear Scuba Diving. Besides, you need to bring other vital equipment such as scuba tanks, scuba regulators, and weight pockets.

Scuba tanks, with the support of primary and secondary regulators, will ensure you have enough air to breathe underwater. In addition, weight pockets built into your scuba BCD allow you to achieve neutral buoyancy more easily.

Nevertheless, these types of dive gear are usually bulky to pack into your suitcase; hence, it is a good idea to rent them from local dive operators at a reasonable price point. Additionally, some essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, and beach towels should be included as well.

It is advisable to include an air-integrated dive computer and a scuba light to maximize your safety. While the dive computer can connect to your scuba tanks to track air consumption rate and bottom time, the dive light gives you excellent underwater navigation.

In case you cannot afford high-end models, see cost-efficient dive computers here. Likewise, a dive watch is another incredible option for tight-budget people. If you have no idea about using a dive computer, learn here: How to Use a Dive Computer!

Best Dive Operators in Catalina Island California

Knowing where to book a guided tour is the primary thing to do on Catalina Island, especially if this is the first time you have come here. Among numerous local dive operators available, it is not an easy task to find out which is the most reliable.

For this reason, I have compiled a list of popular dive shops on Catalina Island that you should go for.

  • Diving Catalina – offers wonderful trips to Casino Point, sells gift cards, and rents dive gear. Call (310) 510-8558 and visit https://divingcatalina.com/ for more details.
  • Catalina Scuba – gives scuba tours for divers of all levels, rents high-quality diving equipment, and offers premium services for freedivers and snorkelers. Contact (562) 248-6006 or check its website at https://www.catalinascuba.com/ to book now!
  • Catalina Divers Supply – provides you with affordable gear rental and operates scuba classes, boat dives, and night dives. Phone (310) 510-0330 or visit https://www.catalinadiverssupply.com/ for further information.

Best Resorts in Catalina Island

There are many hotels as well as resorts to stay in on Catalina Island, and all these endless choices come with different services. I will be discussing a few critical factors that may help you make a better decision.

ResortsStarPopular amenitiesAddress & Contact
Hotel Metropole3Spa, beachfront, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning● 205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
● (800) 300-8528
The Edgewater2Beach access, free Wi-Fi, breakfast● 415 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-8474
Catalina Island Inn3Free Wi-Fi, air conditioning● 125 Metropole Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-1623
Catalina Canyon Inn3Pool, free parking, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning● 888 Country Club Dr, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-0325
Seaport Village Inn, Avalon1Free parking, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, beach access● 119 Maiden Ln, Avalon, CA 90704
● (310) 510-0344

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions related to scuba diving on Catalina Island? Did you miss some essential information while reading my article? You should take a look at some of the frequently asked questions and their short answers in the section below.

Do You Need a Wetsuit for Catalina?

As I mentioned above, the water temperature at Catalina Island drops considerably during the winter months. Therefore, wearing a wetsuit is a must to have enough thermal protection. In the meantime, it is optional to wear warm clothing in the spring and fall.

Summer is when the water is warmest, so if you are accustomed to cold diving, you can choose not to wear it.

Are There Sharks on Catalina Island?

Scuba diving with sharks is an exciting experience for thrill-seekers when they come to Catalina Island. Fortunately, this place gives you fantastic opportunities to meet a variety of shark species like horn sharks, angel sharks, swell sharks, and white sharks.

Besides, while diving off Catalina Island’s coastline, it is frequent to encounter blue and Mako sharks. As an entry-level diver, these ocean predators are dangerous to approach alone, so please make sure that seasoned divers guide you in emergencies.

Can You See Whales From Catalina Island?

The waters surrounding Catalina Island are bottomless; thus, whales are not common sightings here. Instead, you can see at least six dolphin species along with California’s typical creatures, such as sea lions, harbor seals, and even bald eagles.

Can You Swim on Catalina Island?

Little Harbor is a fabulous beach for swimming, thanks to its stunning sandy and mirror-like water. In addition, its unique terrain also protects it from powerful Pacific waves, making it the safest beach for kids!

Descanso Beach is another beloved destination for swimming lovers. Divers visit here to enjoy pristine beauty, sparkling white sand, and blue water, which is warm throughout the year.

Can You Snorkel in Catalina Island?

Catalina Island provides you with numerous fantastic snorkeling sites such as Lover’s Cove, Casino Point, and Descanso Beach. In case you cannot afford a luxurious underwater camera, let’s go for a GoPro at a lower cost.

This lets you not miss out on capturing gorgeous footage of Catalina undersea wildlife.

Conclusion

Catalina Island is one of the most sought-after diving spots in Southern California. This place has been world-famous for excellent underwater photography and majestic kelp forests. In addition, it is also a haven for not only scuba divers but also snorkelers and aquatic sports enthusiasts.

To sum up, I will choose Casino Point as my favorite diving destination. It would be best if you visited Catalina Island in September due to its pleasant weather conditions. Moreover, traveling by ferry is a cost-efficient way to reach this location, and everyone should try it at least once.

All your suggestions concerning scuba diving on Catalina Island are welcomed. Kindly leave them in the comment section.

Also, I would appreciate it if you would share this informative article with friends and other divers. Kindly click on any of the corresponding social media buttons below.

About Scott Maldonado

Hi, I am Scott Maldonado, the founder of diveaeris.com. You are welcome to this website. Diving is so much fun, and I’ve got a flair for it. With many diving sessions under my belt, I have transformed from just an experienced diver to a professional instructor.
I will love to contribute to your development as a diver. Therefore, I will be engaging my years of experience by discussing anything related to diving on this website.
Read more about me.

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