September 6, 2017

Snorkeling and Diving in Southern California

Ever wonder what types of activities there are to enjoy on a beachside vacation, other than the typical surf lessons, brunches, and beach relaxation? We often talk about the types of things to do in Southern California on land, but this week, we will explore more of life under the sea. If you are curious about sea life, we always recommend the Aquarium of the Pacific or the Ocean Institute, but for those interested in a more immersive experience, check out our ideas for snorkeling and scuba diving in Southern California!

Snorkel & Dive Spots to Try:

Little Corona Beach:
Little Corona beach is located in Corona Del Mar, next to Del Mar’s Big Beach. We like Little Corona because it is child-friendly, and a fun place to take kids snorkeling. With calmer water, and a smaller land space, and non-stair beach access, beginners and advanced swimmers alike will enjoy this area where divers frequent for an interesting swim. Make sure to visit the eastern side of the beach where, 100 yards out, you'll find a beautiful reef system. The reef's rock spires are inhabited by turban snails, wavy gorgonians, cabezons, and of course lots of sea stars! You'll also find majestic beds of kelp where you might be able to spot some of our other local fishes.

The easy beach access makes for the perfect slope to carry ice chests and picnic gear as well! Drive on Ocean Blvd and park on Poppy Avenue to find Little Corona.

Shaw's Cove:
With its beautiful coves, Laguna Beach offers some of the best snorkeling and diving in Southern California. You can't go wrong with any of Laguna's coves, from Diver's Cove to Fisherman's Cove or Wood's Cove, but one of our favorites is Shaw's Cove. Shaw’s Cove is the perfect spot to try if you are staying in Newport Beach or Dana Point, Laguna’s two surrounding cities. Shaw’s Cove features exciting marine life and kelp forests, especially on the north side of the beach. We suggest Shaw’s Cove for the intermediate to advanced swimmers—the farther you are able to go, the more you will see! Keep an eye out for sea cucumbers, bat stars, and the occasional octopus!

You'll find access to Shaw's Cove off of Fairview Street and Cliff Drive. Parking at Shaw’s Cove is free but is on a first come first serve basis, so plan to get there earlier in the day!

Diver's Cove:
While we're talking about Laguna Beach, we've got to recommend Diver's Cove as well. This beach is great for snorkeling and beginning divers too! Close to the shore, there is an abundance of plant and sea life, which is perfect for beginners. About 30 yards out you'll find Diver's Cove's "mini-reefs," while on the south side you'll see bigger reef systems. Again, the farther out you go, the more sea life you'll find, including like Sea Bass, Sea Stars, Octopus, and other exciting sea creatures!

Parking is free, and some spots are metered, so we once again recommend arriving a bit earlier in the day in order to find somewhere to park for the day! Also, make sure you bring a buddy and appropriate snorkel gear - the local life guards want you to stay safe and might stop you if you head out into the water without a buddy and a snorkel.

La Jolla Cove:
Staying a little further south? La Jolla Cove, near the Carlsbad and San Diego area, is the perfect place to enjoy a day of relaxing beach fun and snorkeling in a unique and beautiful area! Most snorkelers stay within the confines of the cove itself, but for the more advanced snorkeler or diver, continue farther out for clearer snorkeling and a chance to see more marine life! Rays, leopard sharks, and even dolphins are sometimes seen in La Jolla Cove.

Park by Ellen Browning Scripps Park, and enjoy a beautiful view of the cove. Also be sure to check with lifeguards before leaving the cove area to make sure it is safe to swim in the day’s waves. Better yet, there are lots of snorkel tours available in the La Jolla area, so you can explore the underwater landscape with an experienced guide!

Catalina Island:
If you are staying in and of our vacation rentals, especially near Newport Beach or Dana Point area, consider booking a Catalina Flyer or Catalina Express ticket and spending the day at Catalina Island! Catalina is known for great scuba diving, snorkeling, and other water activities for the whole family! Scuba Diving Magazine even voted Catalina the "World's Healthiest Marine Environment," meaning it's a great place for you to see a variety of marine life in beautiful clear water!

Two Harbors Dive and Recreation Center, among other local businesses, offer lessons, rentals, and guided dives. They even provide dive experiences for those who do not want to bother getting certified (called PADI Discover Scuba Diving Program). Check here for more specific rates and contact info!

Gear & Guides to Help:

When planning a Southern California vacation the easiest way to ensure a great snorkeling or diving adventure is to get some help from an expert. We know there are lots of rental companies and snorkeling tours to choose from, so we have rounded up a few we think are great for the whole family!

So Cal Snorkeling Tours

So Cal Snorkeling Tours operates out of Laguna Beach, and offer visitors the opportunity to see beautiful fish, sea life, and kelp forests in their underwater adventures. They meet explorers at the beach, and provide all the equipment needed for snorkeling! After the tour, customers are provided with photos and video of their adventure to remember their explorations for years to come! Lots of customers say that the tour guides of So Cal Snorkeling are perfect for first-time snorkelers and provide a safe and informative experience. We recommend So Cal Snorkeling because they make for the best experience for the whole family!

Laguna Sea Sports
925 N Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Looking for a local store close to Shaw’s Cove and Diver’s Cove? Operated by Beach Cities Scuba, Laguna Sea Sports offers a large variety of rentals at decent pricing and even diving classes for those with a more developed interest in underwater exploration! The gear from Laguna Sea Sports is top notch and perfect for any snorkeler or diver.

Ray’s Rentals
303 Main St
Newport Beach, CA 92661

Planning to explore Little Corona or other Newport Beach sites? Ray’s Rentals is one of the most popular rental stores in Newport for its customer service and affordable pricing. Stop in for all of your snorkeling needs including wetsuits, flippers, and more as well as any and all beach needs, including beach cruisers, beach chairs, and anything else you can think of to make your day at the beach more comfortable. Also be sure to check in on yelp for a free water bottle with every bike rental!

La Jolla Kayak

Interested in exploring the coast and caves at La Jolla? Look no further than La Jolla Kayak ! La Jolla Kayak offers a variety of tours from fun snorkel tours to swim with migrating leopard sharks to adventurous kayak/snorkel combination tours that will lead you through La Jolla's famous sea caves! La Jolla Kayak also offers SUP, surf, and boogie board rentals, bike tours, sunset kayak tours, and even weekend kayak and brunch tours, so no matter how you want to experience the SoCal coast, there's a tour perfect for you!

Not sure if you want to take the plunge?
There are tons of other fun things to to in Southern California without getting wet! Take a look below for more ideas:

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