AAA Travel Tips / What to Do on the Ocean in Catalina Island

What to Do on the Ocean in Catalina Island
By AAA Travel Editor Michelle Palmer
January 25, 2022
Catalina Island is an amazing vacation spot that has everything from mountain views to scenic tours and wildlife viewing. Avalon is on the bay, and there are plenty of things to do on and in the ocean like snorkeling, diving and semi-submarine tours. You also have the option to travel to Two Harbors and enjoy the beach on the other side of Catalina.
Here are our favorite tours to explore marine life and enjoy the ocean on your trip to Catalina Island.

Discover Two Harbors by Catalina Island Company

(800) 626-1496
This 40-minute trip on a powerboat allows visitors to Avalon to spend a day at Two Harbors. Once there, you can spend your day relaxing on the beach or exploring the ocean. Rent kayaks or paddleboards from the Dive & Recreation Center or contact them ahead of time to schedule a SCUBA dive trip; phone (310) 510-4272. Snorkeling equipment is also available to rent. If you want to extend your stay in Two Harbors, camping is an option, and there are some hiking trails where you can explore the island’s more rugged interior. If you are prone to seasickness, prepare ahead of time. This boat moves with speed and might cause you to feel queasy.

Diving Catalina

1 Casino Way
(310) 510-8558
Diving Catalina offers visitors a spectacular view of marine life in Casino Point Dive Park. The dive company offers SCUBA diving classes and tours for first-time and experienced divers, offering visitors the chance to see marine life up close. While exploring the marine park, you might spot an octopus or eel living among the reef, while in the kelp forest, you will see kelp bass, opaleye, Garibaldi and other species of fish. If diving isn’t your thing, Diving Catalina also offers snorkeling tours including an underwater scooter tour that allows you to cover more area than traditional snorkeling.
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Flying Fish Voyage by Catalina Island Company

(800) 626-1496
Board the Cyclone powerboat for a 50-minute nighttime voyage into Avalon Bay to search for flying fish. The Flying Fish Voyage offers visitors a chance to see these fascinating creatures leap from the ocean and fly several feet above the water’s surface before plunging into the water again. Witnessing these creatures is extraordinary and only possible from May through December. Booking this tour ahead of time is recommended to ensure that they are sailing during your stay on Catalina, but if you haven’t planned ahead, go to the Catalina Island Company ticket booth on Pleasure Pier at the junction of Crescent Avenue and Catalina Avenue to purchase tickets in person.

Glass Bottom Boat Voyage by Catalina Island Company

(800) 626-1496
This 40-minute boat tour takes you out to Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve. You’re sure to see fish when the vessel comes to the feedings sights and might also be lucky enough to see other wildlife such as birds and seals. Kids will enjoy this family-friendly tour, and for the budget-minded traveler, the Glass Bottom Boat Voyage is cheaper than the semi-submarine tour, another kid-friendly option on this list.

Catalina Adventure Tours

(562) 432-8828
This is a great attraction for kids or anyone who wants to peer beneath the ocean but doesn’t want to get wet. The Nautilus Semi-Submarine Excursion doesn’t actually dive into the ocean depths, but rather you climb about 12 steps beneath the surface, looking out portholes where you can see the creatures that make up Avalon Bay’s wildlife. For an extra fee, little ones and the young-at-heart can shoot “torpedos” of fish food to attract a frenzy of fish to your porthole window. The 45-minute tour will take you into the bay and through a kelp forest.
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