California is not exactly the first destination you think of when planning a snorkeling vacation.  Because it is not a destination as popular as Hawaii for example, you can expect less crowded snorkeling spots and generally cheaper rental prices.

The one reason for which California is not in most top snorkeling destinations lists is the cold water.  The warmest you can expect water to get in snorkeling hot spots is about 70 F, which for some swimmers is too low. You can keep warm by renting a suit and there should be no reason for you not to be able to enjoy the beautiful underwater wildlife in these areas.


Channel Islands National Park is one of the most picturesque snorkeling destinations you could pick if you decide for California as your go to destination for the next snorkeling trip.


What you’ll see while snorkeling at Channel Islands?

The water here is reach in caves, coves, kelp forests and wild life. It is also perfect for scuba divers and free divers to enjoy. The water is generally pretty cold so you will most likely need a full-suit and hood.  You can expect to see reefs, anemones and sponges.

Ocean conditions are unstable from October through January when east and Santa Ana winds blow.

Wild life is abundant with a variety of fish species.


Snorkeling hot spots in Channel Island California

If you chose Channel Island as your next vacation destination,  you need to stay on the “paved path” and only snorkel in recommended tourist spots.


Anacapa – there is a famous kelp forest surrounding this area, so swimming is rather difficult. However there is a spot in West Anacapa where snorkeling is possible without risking getting tangled. There is a shallow reef here accessible to snorkelers.


Santa Cruz – this is the final resting home of the Scorpion Anchorage, now a 20 year old shipwreck.  There is a lot of marine life in the 100 ft long remains of the ship. You can expect to see barnacales, seas stars and bryozoans. The water in this area is rather calm, but the depth makes it difficult for snorkelers with no free diving experience.


Santa Barbara –   very close to Landing Cove Beach there’s the best area for beginner snorkelers vacationing in the Channel Islands. With a depth of 0 to 20 ft and calm waters, this is a great snorkeling hot spot.  California sea lions occasionally swim in this area.


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