Here are some suggestions for snorkeling the Channel Islands in California. Years ago, (in a former lifetime) I used to operate a charter boat out of San Diego and came this far north.
Although I have not seen many snorkelers on the islands, there are some great spots.
Remember, the CLOSEST island to shore is Anacapa, about 11 miles from the beach. Visibility tends to be better at Anacapa.
Here are the better spots (in my opinion anyway) for snorkeling . . .
On “calmer” days – back side of the island, just west of Cat Rock . . . good reef structures out to 60 foot depths and more. On many occasions I have seen barracuda, sheeps head, etc.
On rougher days, there is good snorkeling just west of Frenchy’s Cove area. Go in real shallow. One time I was snorkeling in six feet of water and literally “bumped” into a nine foot Blue Shark. My buddy was sitting on a rock nearby and said it was the first time he saw anyone walk on top of a kelp bed!! (BTW finding a Blue Shark in this shallow water is EXTREMELY rare).
There are also some good snorkeling spots on the “front side” of Santa Cruz. Look for offshore rocks and really tiny anchorages. Afternoon winds can make some of these spots “bumpy” to say the least. It’s better in the morning before the winds kick up.
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Galen & Nicole – Nov 19, 2012 – Great Info – Thanks!
Thank you for adding that Channel Islands snorkeling information to our site. Great story about the shark too! We look forward to getting there someday.
We have a little bit of information about snorkeling California on this site.