Best Snorkeling Places in California

by CaliCase Team on April 10, 2023

Ready to dive into some of California's most amazing snorkeling spots? We've got you covered with a roundup of some of the best places to snorkel in the state. From La Jolla Cove, where you'll be surrounded by colorful fish and stunning underwater landscapes, to Catalina Island, where you can spot everything from Garibaldi fish to leopard sharks, there's no shortage of incredible marine life to discover. And with crystal clear waters and diverse underwater terrain, places like Monterey Bay, Crystal Cove State Park, Leo Carrillo State Park, and Point Lobos State Reserve are all guaranteed to provide an unforgettable snorkeling experience. So grab your gear, check the safety warnings, and get ready to make some amazing memories!


La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove


La Jolla Cove is a top-notch spot for snorkeling because of its crystal clear waters and the abundance of colorful marine life that call this place their home sweet home. When you put on your snorkel gear and dip your head beneath the surface, you'll find yourself surrounded by schools of vibrant fish, including the famous bright orange Garibaldi fish.

The underwater landscape here is just as stunning as the sea creatures themselves. You'll see towering underwater cliffs, gorgeous rock formations, and vibrant patches of seaweed swaying back and forth in the gentle currents. It's like swimming in a dreamy, underwater garden!

Now, if you're new to snorkeling, don't worry. La Jolla Cove is a great place for beginners because the waters here are generally calm and shallow. But even if you're an experienced snorkeler, there's always something new to discover in the Cove's underwater world.

Just keep in mind that since La Jolla Cove is such a popular spot, it can get pretty crowded, especially during peak season. But trust us, it's totally worth it to experience this underwater wonderland. So grab your snorkel gear and get ready to make some unforgettable memories!

Learn more about the Best Snorkeling Spots near San Diego

We picked this video from Justin MacRae to give you an idea of what you can expect at La Jolla Cove.



People wo went to La Jolla Cove comment that the waters are crystal clear and you can spot all sorts of marine life, bright and colorful fish, some playful sea lions, and even some leopard sharks! But they also say that the cove can get pretty crowded, so keep that in mind. Also, make sure you know about the tides and currents so you don't get swept away. And last but not least, it's chilly down there so you might want to wear a wetsuit.

Here are some specific comments you may find useful:

  • "This is one of my favorite places to snorkel in the world! The fish are so colorful and there's always something new to see."
  • "The water is so clear and the visibility is amazing. I saw so many different fish, including Garibaldi, sea lions, and even a leopard shark!"
  • "The cove is a great place to snorkel, especially if you're a beginner. The water is calm and the lifeguards are always on duty."


Catalina Island 

Catalina Island


Let us tell you why Catalina Island is an amazing spot for snorkeling. First of all, the water there is crystal clear, and you can see straight to the bottom in many areas. Secondly, there are so many different species of fish and other marine life that call Catalina home. You might see brightly colored Garibaldi fish, schools of sardines, and even the occasional leopard shark!

But wait, there's more! The island has several designated snorkeling spots, like Lover's Cove and Descanso Beach, where you can easily access the water and start exploring. Plus, the island's unique topography, which includes rocky reefs and underwater canyons, creates a really interesting and diverse underwater landscape to explore. We made a full article about Snorkeling on Catalina Island.

Below is video we picked from Andy's Awesome Adventures Youtube Channel.



Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay


Monterey Bay is a fantastic place to snorkel for a bunch of reasons. For starters, the water is super clear and just teeming with life. You've got kelp forests and underwater canyons that are just waiting to be explored. And the marine life? Let's just say that it's like an underwater carnival down there.

You can see all sorts of fish, from colorful rockfish to massive schools of anchovies. And don't even get us started on the sea lions and otters that call the bay home - they're just adorable! Oh, and did I mention the harbor seals? Because they're there too.

But it's not just the critters that make Monterey Bay such a great place to snorkel. The underwater scenery is also pretty spectacular. You've got all these beautiful rock formations and caves to explore, and the kelp forests make for some seriously cool photo ops.

We picked a video from John Thompson Youtube Channel to show what you can expect snorkeling at Monterey Bay.



Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park


Crystal Cove State Park is an epic place to snorkel, and there are a few reasons why. First off, the tide pools and rocky reefs are jam-packed with all kinds of cool creatures like octopuses, crabs, and a whole school of different fish. It's like an underwater zoo! Plus, the water is so clear that you can see all the way down to the ocean floor, which is pretty sweet.

Another thing that makes Crystal Cove State Park a top-notch snorkeling destination is the variety of underwater rock formations you can explore. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies to swim through, making for an adventure-filled underwater playground. And with the beautiful California sun shining down on you, it's an unforgettable experience.

Below is a leopard shark filmed at Crystal Cove State Park by Faith Family Friends Youtube Channel.




Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park Beach


Leo Carrillo State Park is one of the best spots to snorkel in California. First off, the park has a rocky beach that's perfect for exploring tide pools and underwater rock formations. The water here is crystal clear, and you'll be amazed by the variety of marine life you can spot while snorkeling.

I've seen all sorts of cool stuff while snorkeling at Leo Carrillo, like colorful fish, octopuses, crabs, and even sea stars! It's also a great place to spot kelp forests and get up close and personal with those giant seaweed plants.

What's really neat about Leo Carrillo is that the rocky reefs provide a habitat for a ton of different species, which means you'll never know what you'll find. It's like a treasure hunt, but with marine life!

Below is a seal filmed by ElectrostaticMike Youtube Channel while snorkeling at Leo Carrillo State Park beach. 




Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve


Point Lobos State Reserve is a fantastic spot for snorkeling in California. You won't be disappointed!

Firstly, the reserve is located near Carmel, which is just a gorgeous area in general. But what makes Point Lobos really stand out for snorkeling is the amazing variety of marine life you can see. Seriously, it's like stepping into an underwater wonderland. You can see colorful fish, starfish, urchins, crabs, and even some playful sea otters if you're lucky!

The water at Point Lobos is usually very clear, so you'll have a great view of all the marine life below you. And the rocky underwater terrain makes for an exciting and dynamic snorkeling experience. You'll feel like you're exploring a hidden world that not many people get to see.

But don't take our word for it! You really have to experience Point Lobos for yourself to fully appreciate its beauty and wonder. Just be sure to check for safety warnings and regulations before you go, and always be respectful of the marine life and their habitat. Have fun and happy snorkeling!

Below is an octopus filmed by Calvin Wen Youtube Channel at Point Lobos State Reserve.