Just off the coast of Southern California in the waters surrounding Catalina Island resides an underwater civilization as awe-inspiring as the city above. To see it, the experienced divers of Catalina Snorkel and Scuba outfit explorers of all skill levels to swim over the marine landscape, leading journeys into the protected Casino Point Underwater Dive Park and the kelp forest. In addition to guiding tours, Catalina Snorkel and Scuba also rents snorkeling equipment and leads classes that range from introductory dives to advanced, postcertification scuba training to become the next Aquaman.
During Snorkeling Catalina's boat tours, snorkeling trips, and private sightseeing charters, visitors come face-to-fin with marine life. Tour guides lead revelers through shallow and deep waters and pilot inflatable boats offshore so passengers can snap photos of seals and dolphins. Back on land, the full-service snorkeling shop outfits guests with necessary equipment, such as flippers, masks, and underwater ovens for fish who don't like to eat soggy bread crumbs.
Disguised in wetsuits, flippers, and diving masks, humans almost seem indistinguishable from the scores of aquatic life that thrive among the San Diego coastline. In the water, curious sea lions tug playfully at divers' fins, and thick stalks of kelp wave like Queen Elizabeth telling the gathered crowd to go home already. With access to five separate sites in which to see such wonders, the guides at San Diego Excellent Adventures tailor their adventures—whether snorkeling, diving, or paddling—around the experience level of each tour group, ensuring an easy assimilation to undersea life.
During guided dives along La Jolla Shores, swimmers peer in on frolicking creatures such as lobsters, octopuses, and leopard sharks, and standup paddleboards grant access to Mission Bay's shoreline views previously seen only by terribly lost Venetian gondoliers. Currently the largest manmade bay in the country, Mission is known for its calm waters suited to beginners just learning to explore the ocean.
At La Jolla Water Sports, guides undergo extensive training before captaining snorkeling excursions into the calm, crystalline waters of the Pacific. The experts escort 6 to 12 patrons at a time on shark tours of the shallow, sandy flats where small-mouthed leopard sharks up to 5 feet long lounge on their easy chairs of sand. Snorkeling tours of the La Jolla cove grant participants, including beginners and kids, a siren's-eye view of rock formations, underwater flora, and marina critters including garibaldi fish, sea cucumbers, anemones, and starfish. The most action-packed of La Jolla Water Sports's offerings are the spearfishing tours in which leaders expound on the importance of safety and proper form as customers skewer fish before schlepping them home for dinner or as treats for pet grizzly bears.
A crew of former athletes and passionate locals with a love for the outdoors wait beneath the bright-red awnings at each Bike and Kayak Tours location to guide multiple expeditions through the natural sights around San Diego. The 7 Caves and Ecological Reserve kayak tour sends paddlers on an expedition to a 75-million-year-old sandstone cliff with seven sculpted sea caverns that resound echoes in seven-part harmony. In the spring, snorkeling trips follow the seasonal migration of leopard sharks as students paddle in the shallow waters of the sandy flats with harmless predators.
At La Jolla Shores, the ocean bottom slopes gently out to sea and the waves roll gently toward the beach, where seals can be found sleeping in the sun. This unique ecology makes the area an ideal entryway into the ocean, which the native La Jollan owners of La Jolla Kayak take full advantage of, leading kayaking excursions past the steep cliffs and through the secluded sea caves where humans first learned to douse fire. Alternatively, snorkel tours allow explorers to dive into the 6,000-acre Underwater Park to spy the leopard shark, garibaldi, and dolphins swimming underfoot. To facilitate journeys, La Jolla Kayak transports visitors' kayaks to the beach straight from its outfitting shop, which also houses complimentary lockers and rents out wetsuits to keep love-struck sea lions from slipping notes into divers' pockets.