Catalina Island trip & best things to do here

Best Things to Do in Catalina Island & How to Get There

Catalina Island, often referred to as a hidden paradise in Southern California, is the epitome of relaxation and enjoyment. The island was purchased by the chewing gum billionaire, William Wrigley Jr., in 1919 with the vision of creating a unique travel destination.

It beckons travelers with its pristine beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture. This beautiful island offers a myriad of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. From exploring rugged wilderness to indulging in seaside luxury, Catalina Island promises an unforgettable escape.

This picturesque destination is located approximately 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. It is part of the Channel Islands archipelago and is known for its stunning natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere. Accessible by ferry or helicopter, Catalina Island serves as a popular getaway for tourists and locals alike seeking respite from the bustling mainland.

Best time to Visit Catalina Island:

Catalina Island, California

Catalina Island is a year-round destination, but the best times to visit depend on personal preferences and desired experiences. Generally, the spring and fall months offer milder weather and fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season. During these shoulder seasons, visitors can enjoy pleasant temperatures, blooming flora, and various outdoor activities without the hustle and bustle of peak tourist traffic.

Additionally, the winter months can be a tranquil time to visit for those seeking solitude and relaxation, although some attractions and amenities may have reduced operating hours during this time. Ultimately, the best time to visit Catalina Island depends on individual preferences for weather, crowd levels, and desired activities.

How to get to Catalina Island:

Catalina Express

Before delving into the island’s attractions, let’s explore the various ways to reach Catalina. Your best option is to take the ferry, with Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer being popular choices. Alternatively, helicopter services are available, as well as options for private boats and even sailing adventures. Here are the options you may choose:

Catalina Express:

Catalina Express is your premier transportation provider for getting to Catalina Island. They have up to 30 round departures daily. It offers fast, reliable ferry service from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point to Avalon and Two Harbors (Two Harbors destination only from San Pedro). For a round trip, They cost $91 for adults, $82 for seniors, $72 for children, and $7 for infants. They also have captains lounge and commodore lounge upgrade options for $120 – $125. It can change at any time. Check out the schedule and booking of Catalina Express. The total duration time of Catalina Express is around 60 minutes.

Catalina Flyer:

Catalina Flyer offers from Newport Beach, CA to Avalon single and round trip Ferry service. They don’t allow pets on their ferry. Catalina Flyer allows two hand-carried luggage per person. They also cost $7.2 to $78 for per person. If you want to carry your bike, It’ll cost $20 -$25. These prices are subject to additional costs too. If you want to reschedule or cancel your trip, You must inform them 24 hours before the departure time and it’ll cost $25. The total duration time of Catalina Flyer is around 75 minutes. Here is the Catalina Flyer’s schedule and booking.

Catalina Island Helicopter Services:

Catalina Island Helicopter Services offers a luxurious and convenient way to travel between the mainland and Catalina Island. Maverick Helicopters offers per-seat pricing rides from Orange County, Long Beach, and San Pedro to Catalina Island on their helicopter, 364 days a year. It’s 15 15-minute ride from the coastal mainland to Catalina Island. You can book your helicopter here.

Best Things to Do in Catalina Island:

Catalina Island

Catalina Island, a picturesque gem off the coast of California, offers many activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, Catalina Island has something for everyone. Here are some of the top things to do during your visit:

1. Catalina Food Tour:

Kickstart your island adventure with a culinary journey through Avalon. You can hire a 3-hour tasting and cultural walking tour that provides insights into Catalina’s vibrant food scene. you can also make this journey without any guide, just research enough before getting there. If you don’t have much more information about the traditional dining options, you’ll miss the main delights of the island.

2. Witness Catalina’s Flying Fish:

Flying Fish

Experience the magic of Catalina’s flying fish during a summer nighttime voyage. Equipped with a searchlight, you’ll witness these captivating creatures soaring through the waters of Avalon Harbor.

3. Hike the Hermit Gulch Trail Loop:

Immerse yourself in nature with a hike along the Hermit Gulch Trail. Offering stunning views of Avalon and the ocean, this 5.6-mile loop trail is a must for outdoor enthusiasts.

4. Semi-Submarine Tour:

Explore Catalina’s marine environment aboard a semi-submarine. Feed the fish from your seat and marvel at the underwater wonders of the island. You’ll be able to see the various colorful fishes and stunning marine life.

5. Mini Golf at Gulf Gardens:

Enjoy a classic game of mini-golf at Gulf Gardens. It’s very popular for its challenging layout, this 18-hole course promises fun for all ages.

6. Hike the Garden to Sky Trail:

Embark on Catalina’s best day hike along the Garden to Sky Trail. With panoramic views of the island, this 2.8-mile trail offers a glimpse of Catalina’s pristine wilderness.

7. Glass Bottom Boat Voyage:

Delve into Catalina’s crystal-clear waters on a glass-bottom boat tour. Get up close to the island’s vibrant marine life while learning about its unique ecosystem.

8. Rent a Golf Cart:

Explore the island at your own pace by renting a golf cart. Cruise along the coastline, soak in the ocean views and discover hidden gems scattered throughout Catalina. You can also stroll or ride your bike instead of renting a car.

9. Explore the Catalina Island Casino:

Catalina Island Casino

Marvel at the iconic Catalina Island Casino, a historic art deco masterpiece. From the world’s largest circular ballroom to the Avalon Theater, there’s plenty to discover within its walls. Don’t think it is a gambling place to see. In fact, there were never gambling activities that occurred here.

10. Ridge Top Eco Adventure:

Escape the crowds and venture into Catalina’s wilderness on an eco-friendly hummer tour. You’ll discover the island’s hidden treasures with a knowledgeable guide leading the way.

11. Catalina Island Bison Expedition:

Learn about Catalina’s fascinating history with a bison expedition. Spot these majestic creatures while exploring the island aboard an open-air hummer.

12. Explore Avalon’s Green Pleasure Pier:

Step back in time at Avalon’s historic Green Pleasure Pier. Home to the island’s visitor center and waterfront restaurants, it’s the perfect starting point for your Catalina adventure.

13. Catalina Falconry Experience:

Embark on a thrilling falconry adventure in the heart of Catalina. Get up close to hawks, falcons, and owls as they soar through the skies.

14. Catalina Aerial Adventure:

Catalina Island, Arial Adventure

Channel your inner adventurer with a treetop adventure course. Swing from tree to tree and conquer obstacles while enjoying panoramic views of the island.

15. Visit the Catalina Island Museum:

Dive into Catalina’s rich history at the island’s museum. With engaging exhibits and captivating stories, it’s a must-visit for history buffs.

16. Visit the Airport in the Sky:

Located 1,600 feet above sea level, the Airport in the Sky offers breathtaking views of Catalina. Indulge in a buffalo burger at the airport restaurant and marvel at the island’s beauty.

17. Catalina Island Zipline Ecotour:

Soar above Catalina’s rugged terrain on a thrilling zipline adventure. With five consecutive zip lines offering sweeping ocean views, it’s an adrenaline-fueled experience.

18. Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden:

Take a stroll through the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. Admire native plants and enjoy panoramic views of Avalon Bay from this serene sanctuary.

19. Hike the Trans-Catalina Trail:

Embark on an epic hiking adventure along the Trans-Catalina Trail. With panoramic views and rugged terrain, it’s a challenging yet rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

20. Relax at Descanso Beach Club:

Unwind at Avalon’s only beachside bar and restaurant. Rent a cabana, sip on cocktails, and soak up the sun while enjoying breathtaking views of the coast.

21. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving:

Snorkeling under water

Dive into Catalina’s clear waters and discover a vibrant underwater world. From playful sea lions to colorful coral reefs, it’s a snorkeler’s and diver’s paradise.

22. Explore Two Harbors:

Escape to the tranquil town of Two Harbors, nestled between emerald-green mountains and turquoise waters. Whether you’re lounging on the beach or embarking on outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone in this idyllic seaside retreat.

Related: Essentials Packing for Catalina Island Adventure.

From scenic hikes and thrilling adventures to culinary delights and cultural experiences, Santa Catalina Island offers something for every traveler. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, this hidden gem promises an unforgettable getaway amidst the beauty of Southern California’s coastline.


Is Catalina Island only accessible by ferry?

While ferries are the most common mode of transportation to Catalina Island, helicopter services are also available for those seeking a faster and more luxurious travel experience.

What are some must-see attractions on Catalina Island?

Some must-see attractions on Catalina Island include Avalon Harbor, the Catalina Island Museum, Descanso Beach Club, and the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden.

Are there any eco-friendly initiatives on Catalina Island?

Yes, Catalina Island is committed to sustainability and eco-tourism, with initiatives such as recycling programs, renewable energy projects, and conservation efforts led by the Catalina Island Conservancy.

When is the best time to visit Catalina Island?

The best time to visit Catalina Island depends on personal preferences, but generally, the spring and fall months offer milder weather and smaller crowds compared to the busy summer season.

What outdoor activities are available on Catalina Island?

Catalina Island offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, snorkeling, kayaking, zip-lining, and parasailing, allowing visitors to explore the island’s natural beauty and adventurous spirit.

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