Catalina Island Visitor Information
Catalina Water Sports
Being an island, you'd think that Catalina would offer a fair number of opportunities to engage in water sports, such as wind surfing, wave surfing, boating, swimming and diving and snorkeling.
You'd be right. Catalina Island wholeheartedly embraces its maritime heritage and lifestyle wholeheartedly; you'll find plenty to do in the water when you visit the island.
Exploring the Bottom
There are a fair number of shipwrecks around Catalina, although few of these were accidental; most were derelicts that were destroyed on purpose for making movies. Nonetheless, most are still down there, and can be clearly seen in the clear waters of the Santa Barbara Channel.
One must have a permit from the harbormaster and diver's certification in order to explore the waters in and around Catalina Harbor. However, there are many glass bottom boat tours available that will take you around to see the various reefs and shipwrecks. Other popular diving areas are Lover's Cove and Descanso Beach.
Catching a Wave
There's not much good surfacing in the relatively calm and sheltered waters off Catalina's leeward side. The west side of Catalina, facing the open Pacific Ocean, is another story, however.
They don't call this Catalina's "windward" side for nothing. The best waves come it at Ben Weston Beach and Shark Harbor. Note that Los Angeles County has designated both of these as "primitive" beaches, meaning there are few, if any amenities. Camping is restricted, and anything you take in will have to come out with you when you leave.
Deep sea, or "big game" fishing was virtually born on Catalina Island; this was in fact a primary source of nourishment for the original Tongva Indian inhabitants. There are many suppliers of bait and tackle and more than one sport fishing tour sailing daily out of Two Harbors, the smaller of Catalina's two population centers.