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Diving around Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles

Crystal clear waters near the island of Santa Catalina with its rich underwater world are perfect for diving

Best time: July–December

Diving around Santa Catalina Island

The island of Santa Catalina is located 35 km southwest of Los Angeles. This is a favourite place for fans of snorkelling and diving. Huge schools of small fish, bright orange fish, seashells, seaweed, and a huge variety of other animals can be observed here. The marine inhabitants are so accustomed to the "big fish" in black rubber suits (divers), who produce a lot of air, that they often act without much fear. Here you can meet other unusual fish, such as the Mola-Mola or Ocean Sunfish, which feeds on jellyfish. These silverfish live in this area during the summer and autumn months. Another type of fish that is found in these waters is the unique flying fish. If you go diving on a ship, they will chase you on the way. In addition to the natural underwater inhabitants, you can find a sunken ship which is at a depth of 18 meters (60 feet).

Though diving is available all year round, the best time must be July to December (the very best in September and November), as it offers the best underwater visibility. To compare, the worst conditions are observed in April and June when the area teems with plankton. As to water temperatures, it's the warmest in mid-July to the end of September, and coldest again March to June.

Getting to Catalina Island

Visitors can take a passenger ferry from Long Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point, or San Pedro. Another option is to fly over on a helicopter or private plane. Local companies also provide the service to sail over to the island on a private boat. Besides, Catalina Island is a regular stop for some cruise ships in the area.

Practical info

What types of marine animals can be seen when diving around Santa Catalina Island?

Around Santa Catalina Island, marine enthusiasts can find a diverse array of creatures. Diving activities grant access to the observation of many marine species, such as Mola-Mola or Ocean Sunfish swimming among jellyfish, flying fish, and a variety of fish schools. The marine inhabitants in the area are accustomed to the presence of divers making them unafraid and perfect photographic material. Snorkeling is also possible. Show more

When is the best time to visit and go diving in Santa Catalina Island?

The most friendly climate for diving around Santa Catalina Island goes from July to December. Conditions are optimal in September and November when underwater visibility is at its best. The low plankton season enhances diving from July to December. On the other hand, visibility is worse when high concentrations of plankton occur between April and June. Underwater temperatures oscillate between mid-July and the end of September's warmth and March to June's cold. Show more

How can visitors get to Santa Catalina Island?

Getting to Santa Catalina Island is possible by air or by sea. Visitors may take a passenger ferry from Newport Beach, Dana Point, San Pedro, or Long Beach, or opt to fly using a helicopter or private aircraft to the island's airport. Private boats provide sailing services to the area, while some cruise ships incorporate a visit to Santa Catalina Island. Show more

What is the average water temperature around Santa Catalina Island?

In Santa Catalina Island, the water temperature fluctuates. The warmest waters can be experienced between mid-July and the end of September, at approximately 77°F (25°C), while the coldest months are from March to June, ranging from 54-58°F (12-14°C). Although diving is possible around the island throughout the year, it is better to spot different marine species and have optimal visibility between July to December. Show more

Is it possible to see flying fish when diving around Santa Catalina Island?

The presence of flying fish is notable among the creatures inhabiting the near waters of Santa Catalina Island. Considering that these creatures can follow divers and boats, diving enthusiasts may be surprised with a visit from some curious flying fish. Other views available upon diving include schools of small and orange fish, seaweed, seashells, and other mesmerizing marine animals. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin