Catalina Island Undersea Expedition 

Catalina Island Undersea Expedition 

This 45-minute undersea tour aboard the semi-submersible submarine “Sea Wolf” offers spectacular sights of Catalina’s marine life for all ages. Infants require tickets per Coast Guard safety rules. Tours meet on the left side of Avalon’s iconic Green Pleasure Pier overlooking the harbor. For accessibility, all guests must be able to use stairs and ramps during boarding procedures, as vessel entry requires descending from the pier to sea level. 

Crew members assist with safe transfers, but passengers should have adequate mobility and balance when stepping down steep ramps without handrails into the boat. The tours traverse offshore preserves, so those prone to motion sickness should be prepared with remedies as well. Once aboard, the smooth ride allows passengers to sit comfortably, taking in endless underwater views through panoramic domed windows.

Explore the Pacific on the Catalina Island Submarine

Catalina offers endless aquatic adventures, but none quite match the excitement of descending below the waves in a real-life semi-submersible. The island’s rare passenger submarine drops guests 22 feet underwater midchannel for 45 minutes of gazing eye-to-eye with Garibaldi, bat rays, and sea lions chasing mackerel.

Catalina Island Undersea Expedition 

This custom-built vessel, the “Sea Wolf,” ensures smooth rides even on blustery days. Its underwater route navigates passengers away from boat congestion in Avalon Harbor to pristine marine preserve parks off Casino Point. Floor-to-ceiling domed windows provide unobstructed 180-degree views of the sprawling Pacific seabed and its wealth of sea creatures.

During your cruise, insights from knowledgeable guides enrich the amazing sights passing the expansive windows all around. It makes for educational entertainment ideal for families and marine lovers alike. 

Adventure underway: This tour allows you to join schools of fish that are available at this time of year.

What to Expect

After checking in on the pier side, guests descend a ramp into the sub’s main cabin, which has bench seating. Panoramic windows lined by underwater lights reveal the surrounding Pacific sea life in detail. Overhead monitors also display exterior bow cameras with live feeds from onboard biologists identifying marine animals and interesting facts as they swim past.

The submarine maintains climate control for comfort, including heat, allowing cruising even during Catalina’s cooler months. Depths reach just 22 feet on routes, avoiding dense kelp beds that could obstruct viewing. Still, the diversity of sea creatures in nearby marine preserves proves incredible, from Garibaldi to leopard sharks.

The knowledgeable crew provides captivating narration throughout each sailing. Guests with additional questions also enjoy direct access to ask. Smooth rides with surround views lasting 45 minutes culminate right back at the departure pier making for effortless transfers on and off.


For your safety, you should be in good health & free from high blood pressure, heart, neck, or back problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that this tour could aggravate. 

Please note all guests must be able to use ramps and stairs to enter and exit the Sea Wolf. There are steep stairs up and down between the dock and the seating area on board the boat.

What to Bring

Bring any motion sickness remedies if you are prone to nausea (sickness bags are also aboard). Dress prepared for temperature changes with layers, a jacket, a hat, and sun protection. Underwater lighting fills the cabin, but pack sunglasses to reduce glare off windows. Leave expensive cameras behind—phones/GoPros work fine through acrylic domes. Consider water shoes with grip for access ramps, although boat crews assist entry.

Where to Meet

Catalina Island Undersea Expedition 

The meeting points are:

  • Undersea Semi-Submersible Expedition
  • Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon, CA 90704

Look for the staff and ramp queue on the left side of Green Pleasure Pier. Arrive at least 15 minutes ahead to facilitate boarding. Tours depart on schedules varying by season, and checking in closes 10 minutes prior. Forecast cancellations are rare but occur during electrical storms or small craft advisory wave heights deemed unsafe.

Cancellation Policy

Should you need to cancel your Catalina Island Submarine Tour, you must do so at least 24 hours before the scheduled tour departure time to receive a full refund of the ticket price. This allows the tour operator adequate time to fill your seats.

Unfortunately, any cancellation requests made less than 24 hours before the tour date and time are subject to denial of a refund. Weather delays or safety cancellations of tours are the only exceptions whereby passengers may receive refunds for same-day decisions. However, this remains at the discretion of the operating staff.  

Still have questions? Check out these answers to some commonly asked questions. 

How long is the Catalina submarine tour?

The Sea Wolf submarine tour lasts 45 minutes. After the crew facilitates quick boarding, the vessel navigates offshore marine preserves when it reaches a safe depth of 22 feet. The entire curated route and return average is close to one hour, but underwater viewing lasts 45 minutes.

How deep is the water off Catalina Island?

On the leeward side, where tours operate, Pacific coastal shelves drop to between 150-250 feet deep, relatively close to shorelines. Submarines steer over flats averaging just 20-30 feet deep allowing easy viewing without dangerous depths. Near mainland descents reach as shallow as 660 feet while the island’s windward canyons plunge nearly 2 miles down!

What is special about Catalina Island?

Access is just 22 miles offshore by fast ferries and helicopters. Avalon offers both Mediterranean charm and endless recreation options for land and sea. Over 40,000 acres of unspoiled wildlands allow exceptional hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities, even hosting free-roaming bison.

What is the sea life on Catalina Island?

Catalina Island hosts over 150 fish species, including garibaldis, opaleye, and calico bass, plus leopard sharks, bat rays, and more. Giant black sea bass over 350 pounds, sea lions, dolphins, migrating whales, and seasonal squid runs occur offshore. Octopus and reddish sea stars in coastal kelp forests are also seen on this tour.

Do I need a reservation for the Semi-Submersible Undersea Tour?

Yes, walk-up tickets at the pier sell out extremely quickly most days. Advance booking is highly recommended online to guarantee your departure time several weeks ahead (up to 2 months for peak summer dates). Weather cancellations are rare but occur, allowing full refunds. Check current calendars for scheduled sailings offered each day.

Are there restrooms available near the Semi-Submersible check-in location or on board?

Public restrooms are located at:

  • Green Pleasure Pier (1-minute walk)
  • Tour Plaza courtyard (3 minutes walk)
  • Pebbly Beach Cafe (5 minutes walk)

No restroom exists aboard the small vessel itself, lasting only 45 minutes. Use facilities ashore before rigorous boarding procedures begin. Crews make every effort to accommodate disabilities within safety confines.

How far is the Semi-Submersible check-in location from certain areas?

Walking time to common locations:

  • Cabrillo Mole Area: 7-10 minutes
  • Basketball/Volleyball/Ben Park Area: 3-4 minutes
  • Green Pleasure Pier/Island Tour Plaza: 1-2 minutes
  • Casino Building: 10-15 minutes
  • Descanso Beach: 15-20 minutes

Is food or drink provided on the Semi-Submersible Undersea Tour? 

No food or drinks are sold aboard, so plan accordingly. Bottled water is allowed. Depending on age and health factors, the average 45-minute tour timeframe usually precludes the need for substantial snacks. 

Can I eat and drink while on the boat?

Guests may sip bottled water aboard, but no other consumption is permitted during sailing for safety. Please eat/drink before or after. Let staff know any medical dietary restrictions in case of emergency—access to food/water is limited for a portion of the route in deeper channel areas. The crew will make every effort to accommodate sensitivities as possible.

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