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Best Snorkeling Sites in California to Try

Are you looking for the top recommendations to snorkel in California? If you do, read on to know the best snorkel spots that no one will tell you.

California is famous for its beautiful coastline that extends from north to south, and it's around 750 miles long. There are various places along this coast, which are nothing pure excitement to explore by a snorkeler. Usually, when someone mentions snorkeling in California, the first few options that come to the mind are Hawaii, Cayman Islands, etc., which are somehow saturated with tourists. But what if someone tells you that you don't have to travel outside the United States to find green-bluish water, vibrant kelp beds, friendly marine animals, and a wide variety of life underwater? 

There are some best places to snorkel in the US especially in the 'golden state' of California has some hidden gems which are safe and fun to explore through snorkeling. You can plan a solo or family vacation to any of these places. Let's check out these top places to snorkel in California.


Best Places to Snorkel in California

Being a coastal state, California has plenty of sites with shallow water, famous for water sports and activities like snorkeling. Many people agree that the Southern side offers more areas. Still, the real surprise awaits because there are many other places where you can easily enjoy freediving and snorkeling without going anywhere far. Just make sure to do your research before planning a trip, and better if you can shortlist the best options as per personal preference.  It won't be a surprise if you keep on adding new snorkeling places to explore in California every year.  The following is a list of California famous spots to help all snorkeling lovers out there.

 La Jolla

La Jolla is probably the most family-friendly snorkeling site in California. The La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park here are among the world's top ten snorkeling sites. Interestingly, both experienced and new snorkelers can enjoy the beauty of this ecological reserves and dive into the crystal-clear waters. The 6000 acres long park has tidelands and beautiful waters to explore. The seafloor at La Jolla Underwater Canyon reaches up to 500 feet deep, allowing the snorkeler to see numerous sea creatures such as turtles. Sea urchins, shovelnose guitarfish, and even dolphins. There are seven caves at La Jolla, which you can swim through to see; clam cave, among this cave, is a must-watch site. You can also explore an underwater graveyard, nearly 100 yards away from the La Jolla Cove Bridge Club. This graveyard is almost 35 feet deep in the water and carries the remains of the 'bottom scratchers.


Channel Islands National Park

If you are more into sea life and biodiversity, Channel Islands National Park in California is one of the best places to snorkel in the US. It is located near Santa Barbara.

Channel Islands National Park is a collection of eight islands that offer the best views, chilly water, and healthy water currents. Snorkeling here requires some experience and training and a dry snorkel, of course.  This feels a mix of tropical but cold-water snorkeling experience. Here you may find a wide variety of wild sea life such as sea lions, dolphins, turtles, seals, and whales, too if you are lucky.

Catalina Island

Catalina Island is located nearly 22 miles away from the Los Angeles coastline. The water around this island is so clear that you can see up to 80 feet away with clear visibility. It means snorkelers can witness the most amazing sea creatures here, which they may never see anywhere else. For example, horn sharks, sea turtles, giant sea bass, octopus, eel fish, and sometimes yellowtail tuna. To be specific, Lover's Cove and Casino Point Dive Park are two not to be missed sites on this island. Spend at least a couple of days here to explore this area and enjoy a memorable vacation fully.


Lake Tahoe

For a freshwater snorkeling experience, try Lake Tahoe, which runs on California and Nevada's borderline. Sand Harbor is one of the most exotic sites among California’s famous spots for water activities. It is a 2,500 feet long beach with deep teal shaded water. Even the vast size boulders are visible on the lake floor if you are snorkeling here. It is a safe snorkeling site for experienced and new snorkelers and perfect for a family vacation. You may also like to visit Emerald Bay, a famous snorkeling spot in California with pine tree forests submerged in water.

Glass Beach

Glass beach, as the name reflects, has the sea glass made from the decomposition of waste materials for thousands of years. It sounds strange, but it is true, and you can visit this place by yourself to see it. Glass beach is located near MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg in California. This beach was becoming a dumpsite and was closed to the public. After some decades, the garbage was created to beautiful sea glass, which is now commonly seen on the beaches, ocean water, and even rock pools.

This is something that snorkelers cannot find anywhere else. The beautiful sea glass is the prime tourist attraction that makes thousands of visitors travel to this beach. Swimming in the waters here will show you rock codfish, lingcod, sea cucumbers, sea, urchins, and even some small octopus.


Casper Beach

Casper beach, also known as Casper bay, is one of the most exceptional California spots for snorkeling. This site has calm waters, best for a person who is looking for a relaxing vacation. The water here is shallow with the sandy beach around. It is located between the Casper Creek and Doyle Creek. It is easy to find it, and you may not even need to set the location on your mobile phone. Just go in the right direction until you see fantastic rock formations, swimming towards it, and enjoy the best snorkeling experience with marine animals.

Carmel River Beach

Not many people know about Stewart's Point, which is located in Carmel River Beach in California.  Spending time here gives you a feeling that you are in Hawaii. This place is calm, clear, and perfect for a solo snorkeling or scuba diving trip.

The Stewart point is located at the Southern side of the Carmel beach. It has strange rock formations and water inlet points, which are a treat for eyes. You may also find several sea creatures here like rock cod, mussels, turtles, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, sea, urchins, and if you dive deeper, you may also see Pacific Halibut. The summer months here show abundantly growing kelp, which is somehow reduced in colder temperatures. Another great snorkeling point is located at the southern end of Stewart's Point. It has sparkling white sand and steady water for most time of the year. However, look out for the big waves and tides before stepping into the ocean.


Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is located on the Southern side and one of the busiest California spots for vacations. The Heisler Park Ecological Reserve at Laguna beach is one of the most visited places by snorkelers. It is pretty much overcrowded in the summer months, yet many parts of this park are undisturbed. The bottom of this underwater reserve will sow your pristine water and astounding tide pools that will be saved in your memory forever. The major areas to explore here include Shaw's Cove, a small beach, a paradise for snorkelers to see coral reefs and sea life. If you are up for a two-hour travel, you can also visit Seal Rock for exploring dense kelp forests and reefs. Considering the water conditions, you can even swim along with the sea creatures, especially the famous Californias sea lions.



Santa Barbara

The list of top snorkeling places in California is not completed without mentioning Santa Barbara. The Refugio beech and Tajiguas beaches are the two most famous tourist destinations here.  The water is a little warmer, which is perfect for snorkeling. You may see sea anemones, rock codes, sea stars, or calico bass here. The shallow coral reefs with lots of kelps production around with a sandy bottom is a treasured experience.


The Final Word 

All the places mentioned above give a summary of the best snorkeling places in California. Not many people know, but there are so many explored snorkeling sites sin California far better than exotic sites. Try to search for the areas before you plan a vacation and take out a couple of days to explore each one of these sites.

Before traveling, make sure to check the weather conditions, water temperature, and boarding arrangements. Don't rush and explore every area in detail. You may also find some hidden snorkel spots which are not known to the public yet.

We hope that this guide on California famous spots gives you some new options to visit. Just a reminder to use high-quality snorkeling gears that are travel friendly. If everything is checked, snorkeling in California is one of the most memorable experiences of a person's life. Plan your next vacation, and enjoy every moment of it.


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