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Scuba Diving On Catalina Island

Scuba Diving The Catalina Islands Is Famous For Its Manta Ray Encounters


Although you can scuba dive the Catalina Islands all year round if you really want to increase your chances of being in the water with the highest number of rays, visit between the months of January and March.

These are the months during which the odds of being near giant manta rays, devil manta rays, bat rays, stingrays, spotted eagle rays, bullseye electric rays, and cow-nosed rays are highest.

Visibility is best between the months of September and March. This is also the best time of year to potentially encounter whale sharks, tiger sharks, killer whales, humpback whales, pilot whales, and spinner dolphins.

A shoal of Mobula rays as seen when scuba diving the Catalina Islands, Costa Rica. Photo Credit: nicoboxethai.

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Catalina Island Scuba Diving Gem: Valiant Wreck

The Valiant wreck is the perfect dive that combines an incredible dive with a hint of treasure hunting, making it one of the most exciting dives on any Catalina Island scuba diving trip. The luxury yacht sank after a fire in 1930. Located just outside Avalon Harbor, there is in decent shape for a ship that has been in the water for nearly 100 years.

The myth of treasure aboard the valiant comes from a substantial insurance claim made after the ship sunk for diamond jewelry worth several thousand dollars. So far, there have been no reports of the treasure being found, so maybe it is still there waiting for a lucky diver.

The 162ft/50m wreck lies upright on a sandy slope with her stern at 70ft/21m and her bow at a depth exceeding 100ft/30m. Due to the depth of the dive, the Valiant makes for a perfect nitrox dive. Diving the Valiant is generally only possible in the winter months since she lies in an area of heavy boat traffic, making it too dangerous in the summer months.

The wrecks hull is peppered with holes, and over the years, lots of gorgonians have sprouted up non the wreck. The wreck is populated with lots of marine life, including mollusks and lobster. The way the light shines through the holes in the wreck makes the Valiant a dream dive site for underwater photographers and a memorable Catalina Island scuba diving site!

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.

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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 510-8558 and visit 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 248-6006 or check its website at to book now!
  • Catalina Divers Supply provides you with affordable gear rental and operates scuba classes, boat dives, and night dives. Phone 510-0330 or visit for further information.

When To Go Scuba Diving At Catalina Island

Scuba Diving Catalina Island

The diving season in Catalina Island is year-round as long as you prepare for cold water diving in the winter months with a 7mm wetsuit or a drysuit, theres no reason not to dive during the colder months. Peak scuba diving season is from mid-July to late September, when the water is warmest.

Check out the amazing video filmed while diving Catalina Island!

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When To Dive The Catalina Islands

You can scuba dive the Catalina Islands all year long, thanks to the tropical climate on land and the warm water temperatures throughout every season of the year. In fact, the water temperature ranges from 24 to 29 degrees Celsius or around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Visibility is also usually good throughout all the seasons of the year. It typically ranges anywhere from 6 to 23 meters, or 18 to 75 feet, so you will certainly be able to see plenty of marine life clearly, and also grab a lot of photographs if you bring your underwater camera with you on your trip.

Just keep in mind that, on occasion, the currents may be strong. If you are planning to scuba dive the Catalina Islands you should at least be advanced certified.

We have multiple partners in Costa Rica that offer Scuba Dive packages including accommodation, training, and guided trips. Feel free to check out our listings:

About The Night Dive:

  • The Night Dive includes a knowledgeable and experienced Dive Guide that is an expert on Catalina Island marine life
  • All scuba gear , including a thick 7mm wet, is included
  • A very bright LED light is also included
  • Participants must show proof of certification.
  • Please allow approximately 2 hours of your time for this tour.

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Scuba Diving The Catalina Islands Costa Rica

The Catalinas are visited by shops from all along the Papagayo coast line, but are the closest to Playa Flamingo. Many people who come scuba diving in Costa Rica, come specifically to dive the Catalina Islands. Diving in the Catalinas is done via boat as the dive sites are all located a few miles off shore. What makes the Catalinas a favorite among scuba divers is the chance of seeing the pacific giant manta ray. This is the biggest species of Mantas in the world. In addition to mantas, a huge variety of other marine life can be witnessed. White tip reef sharks, several species of rays, a few types of turtles, lots of morays, sea snakes, and a plethora of fish.

A Local Diving Guide To Californias Catalina Island

Scuba Diving Encounters: Diving Catalina Island

Grab your exposure gear and get ready to plunge into the famous forests.

COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closings are constantly evolving. There is no guarantee that the dive sites mentioned within this article will be open at your time of travel.

Catalina is a reliable place to see California’s disappearing kelp forests.

Courtesy Jack Fishman

Ethereal kelp forests draw droves of divers to Catalina every year, promising flittering garibaldi and the elusive chance to encounter endangered giant black sea bass. Beyond these headliners, divers can explore peaks and caves or hunt lobsters in the refreshing Pacific waters.

Heres what you need to know to dive one of Californias most popular scuba sites.

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Catalina Islands Costa Rica

The Catalinas

The Catalina Islands are some of the best spots to scuba dive in all of Costa Rica. There are several dive sites located around these islands which protrude from the Pacific in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. The islands are a fair distance off shore and are the home of the Pacific Giant Mantas among other marine life.

If you are visiting Costa Rica with the intention of scuba diving, you will not want to skip the Catalina Islands. In addition to the Pacific Giant Mantas, we also frequently see sharks, turtles, eels, and huge schools of fish.

With the distance which you must travel to visit the Catalinas, there is no better dive company to take you there than ours. Our boat is the fastest in the industry. Our two 250 horsepower Yamaha 4 stroke engines will have you to the islands and back in about half the time of any other dive shop in the Coco Beach or Playa Ocotal region of Costa Rica.

Our dive shop also dives the Catalina Islands year round, meaning there is never a down time. If you are a diving enthusiast you owe it to yourself to experience these dive sites in addition to our local dive sites.

Dive And Snorkel Services

Day trip or multi-day adventure, Diving Catalina has you covered. Just bring your swimsuit, towel and sunscreen Diving Catalina will provide all you need to enjoy an underwater experience full of memories you wont be able to keep to yourself. Diving Catalina offers guided SCUBA and snorkeling tours as well as equipment rentals for licensed divers. No certification? No worries, mate! You can book an introductory SCUBA dive with no experience needed. This allows you to explore the beautiful Casino Dive Park with an instructor by your side.

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Can I Snorkel On Catalina Island

Yes, there are a lot of great places to snorkel on Catalina Island. If you have your own mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit, or youre happy to rent the necessary gear, there are lots of really great spots you can go snorkeling, such as around the Two Harbors area and Casino Point Dive Park.

Or, if youd prefer, you can book a guided snorkeling tour with a local operator who will know all the best spots to visit.

How To Get There

Authorities say tour boat left Tustin scuba diver behind at Catalina ...

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.

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How To Dive Catalina Island

The best way is to arrange a day trip with one of Catalina Island’s local scuba diving operators. Youll need to make your way to the island on one of the regularly scheduled ferries in the morning to ensure you have enough time to meet up with your chosen dive operator. Most operators will be able to rent you any equipment you need and will provide tanks and weights for free.

Keep Warm And Neutrally Buoyant

Most dive professionals agree that the main risk of diving without a wetsuit is running cold. Ask your dive professional about water temperature at the dive site. Is there a strong thermocline that could quickly sap your body heat? Are you diving on an overcast day that could make it tough to warm up between dives?

Even in our temperate waters , people do get cold, especially on days where we have multiple dives, says Shanks.

Bring a few towels and light clothing on board to warm up between dives. Consider packing a wetsuit into your gear bag, just in caseit can come in handy if site conditions change or if youre making multiple dives.

Many dive professionals strongly recommend getting a handle on your buoyancy before diving sans wetsuit. Buoyancydefined in diving as the tendency to float, sink, or remain neutralis among the toughest of skills for new and intermediate divers to master. A wetsuit helps you stay buoyant, so skipping it can present an extra challenge. Maintaining neutral buoyancy can help divers avoid collisions with coral reefs, sea life and other divers, as well as the cuts, scrapes, and stings that often accompany such interactions.

Need help mastering your buoyancy? Enroll in PADIs Peak Performance Buoyancy course, where youll learn how to hover effortlessly .

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About The Refresher Dive:

  • The Guided Dive includes a knowledgeable and experienced scuba instructor that is an expert on Catalina Island marine life
  • All scuba gear , including a thick 7mm wet suit
  • Participants must show proof of certification
  • Please allow approximately 2 hours of your time for this tour
  • Second tank dives are available

Catalina Island Things To Do

What’s in an underwater forest? (Scuba Diving Catalina Island)

There are a great many interesting activities, events, and facilities available on Catalina Island to round out a vacation there: music, restaurants, galleries, a museum, shops, parasailing, other watersports, biking, island tours, camping, fishing, boat charters, zip line eco-tours, golf, a spa and more.

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The Best 10 Scuba Diving Near Santa Catalina Island Ca 90704

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    weekend to visit Catalina and were excited to scubadive. We were paired up with 2 more girls

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    Elaina and Taylor were absolutely WONDERFUL! My husband and I went for our very 1st scubadive

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    New & improved!! This Shop & their staff led by Mike is an incredible resource on the West End of Catalina!! Just give them a call ahead for any dive gear, air fills & kayak needs

  • $$San Pedro

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    remotely considering becoming part of the water world of SCUBAdiving, you’d do well to use PACIFIC WILDERNEESS as your avenue to become CERTIFIED!!!

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    My father was coming down to visit us in LA and we wanted to make some memories out on the water. There are a lot of charters out there. After researching and reading numerous

  • San Pedro

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    a scubadive tour, Capt. Carl responded by email with a surprisingly rude response. I conveyed to him

  • San Pedro

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    Cooke’s a solid local guy and has a good team. You don’t want lowball clowns taking care of your boat. He is fair, reliable, and knows his stuff.

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  • How To Get To The Catalina Islands

    The Catalina Islands are located between 3 and 24 kilometers off the northern coast of Costa Rica. Therefore, you have to first travel to Costa Rica. From there, you can get to the islands quite easily by boat from several locations, including Flamingo, Papagayo, Conchal, Playa del Coco, Playa Conchal, Tamarindo, and others that are located in the northern parts of Guanacaste Province.

    This article is written by RUSHKULT, the online booking platform for Scuba Diving. Visit the RUSHKULT platform to book your next Scuba Dive training, guided trip, and accommodation.

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    An Insider’s Guide To Shore Diving Catalina Island

    Catalina Island is a little slice of heaven. It’s the southernmost island of Californias Channel Islands and although it is only 22 miles south-southwest of Los Angeles it feels a world away. The island itself is 76 square miles but it packs a variety of flora, fauna, and endemic species into its valleys, cliffs, and coast lines. With its unique history, mild subtropical climate, and gorgeous views both topside and underwater, its any divers dream destination.

    Information On Diving The Catalina Islands In Costa Rica

    scuba diving on catalina island

    The Catalina Island chain is an archipelago of rocky islets which can be found 2-15 miles off the northwest coast of Costa Rica. The islands themselves are completely uninhabited and their location, the currents, and their formation make them perfect locations for large quantities of marine life to gather.

    The visibility in the Catalinas is similar to that of other areas in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. Scuba divers will notice that conditions change frequently and without warning. Water temperatures are usually coldest during the dry season and warmer in the rainy seasons. The visibility can range between 15 and 80 feet. The currents also fluctuate with the dive site, the tides, the season and the winds. Occasional strong currents are found, but our experienced group of dive masters who have been diving the Catalina Islands for years can usually plan to minimize the effects that these currents will have on your dives.

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    Dive Sites In The Catalinas

    There are many dive sites in the Catalinas which you will enjoy when scuba diving from Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica. The most popular from guests are generally the ones where the mantas are most commonly seen. The Wall is a dive site located down a steep cliff, which is formed on the largest island in the chain. This dive is generally a great place to see white tip reef sharks, huge schools of fish, and quite often near the end of your dive, near the point of the island, the pacific giant manta. The Point and The Cleaning Station are two other dive sites which are very often frequented by the mantas.

    Is It Worth Staying On Catalina Island

    Most people who visit Catalina Island go for day trips, but if you want to spend some time exploring the island before or after a day of diving, there are some great options available.

    Avalon and Two Harbors are the two main towns on Catalina Island, about two hours apart from each other. If you want to stay on Catalina Island, look for accommodation options in one of these two towns.

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    What You Will Learn:

    Diving at night teaches you to focus on what you can see in your lights beam, on controlling your buoyancy by feel, on staying with your buddy and on paying attention to details you may overlook during the day. Youll practice:

    • Light handling and communication techniques.
    • Entering, exiting and navigating in the dark.
    • Identifying how plants and animals differ or change behavior at night.
    • Night dive planning, organization, procedures, techniques and potential problem
    • You’ll learn how to control your buoyancy, navigate and communicate at night
    • Since many of the plants and animals you’ll see are different, you’ll also get an introduction to nocturnal aquatic life.

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