Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for those that don’t have the time to travel to some remote faraway location. Catalina Island is located just 26-miles off the coast of Southern California, southwest of Los Angeles.
Catalina is part of the eight Channel Islands archipelago, and is the only one of the eight islands with a significant civilian population.
The island totals 76 square miles of beautiful waterfront and mountainous majesty with Mt. Orizaba being the highest elevation at 2,069 feet while Mount Black Jack is close behind at 2,006.
The water between Catalina and the mainland runs nearly 3,000 feet deep, or more than 1/2 mile. The temperature of the water ranges from 64 to 73 degrees in the summer and 54 to 59 degrees in winter, rivaling many of the more expensive getaways outside the US.
Things To Do on Catalina Island
Just about any traveler can find something to do on the island. If you can stay a few days, it’s a good idea to start with a scenic city tour to get a feel for what’s to offer. Stroll along the palm lined streets and shop for unique island gifts.
If your idea of an island getaway is an outdoor experience, a good start to your adventure would be to rent a glass bottom boat. It’s a great way to discover Catalina’s abundant marine life.
Another option is to rent a kayak or peddle boat and test your stamina as you make you way along the coast. A kayak is a good way to explore the many nearby coves and underwater caves. It’s quite common to see anglers kicked back on an offshore fishing expedition.
Descanso Beach is a great spot to lie on the grass and maybe take a dip in the cool waters, or even dive in at the Casino Dive Park. A few local businesses offer parasailing, diving, and snorkeling lessons and rentals, so it might be time to explore a new hobby–island style.
During the day, families can play a round of miniature golf, or rent a golf cart and tour the island together. Dad can play a round of golf at the Catalina Country Club and have lunch while mom can enjoy the onsite spa and massage facilities.Tennis courts are available so partner up for a tennis match. Kids love the the Nature Center at Avalon Canyon.
Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens is a good place for a peaceful stroll and perhaps a good place to clear your mind from the day-to-day worries, while Ballast Point offers a stunning overlook of this Mediterranean paradise.
For the more adventurous day trippers you can take a ride in semi-submersible submarine or ride a 1,100 foot long zip line.
Discover the history of the island at the Catalina Island Museum and take a historical walking tour, available for those who want to explore the architecture of the island. There’s even a ghost and haunted island tour.
Dining on Catalina Island
When you’re ready to visit Catalina, the Seacrest Inn is the perfect romantic setting with whirlpools available. The Old Turner Inn is a more traditional bed and breakfast. Catalina Island Weddings are popular If your dreaming for a wedding in a faraway land but your budget does not allow you too.
Seaside restaurants offer a gourmet’s dream with classic and more exotic dishes available. Luau Larry’s is a relaxing spot with an ocean view and tropical drinks. El Galleon Restaurant and Lounge is a family oriented spot with live karaoke, while The Chi Chi Club is a 21 and over nightclub for the younger set. DJ’s live bands, shows, and a VIP Lounge are available for private parties.
The beautiful Casino Ballroom and the Avalon Theatre is the spot to spend the evening after a long day of activities. The theatre shows evening movies, while the ballroom features a calendar of events suited for couples who wish to enjoy a romantic evening of dining, dancing, and music.
Camping on Catalina Island
Landlubbers will enjoy camping at one of the five campgrounds on the island that include Hermit Gulch Campground, which is a popular site that also offers trails that connect to the Trans-Catalina Trail. The trail is 37-miles that snake through a good portion of the island.
Two Harbors campground is another favorite, and there are several more primitive campgrounds in the area that allow true adventurers to boat in. Mountain biking is a great way to explore the scenery, and it’s quite common to see people renting bikes and taking a leisurely tour of the island.
Getting to Catalina Island is a breeze
Transportation comes in several forms. Helicopters can be arranged as well as private boat and docking, small private planes can be accommodated, but most of us will us the island boat shuttle.
However, the most popular choice is The Catalina Express Shuttle that leaves from several ports around Dana Point, Long Beach, and San Pedro. The shuttle takes about 1.5 hours from the pickup point; that is in addition to your drive to the shuttle location.