Santa Catalina Island, California 90704, USA

Catalina Island is one of my favorite travel destinations in California. It's a cute little island off the coast of Los Angeles and it's perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. It has all the island vibes without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket. 


The most popular and easiest way to get to Catalina Island is taking a short ferry ride. Alternatively, you can take an even shorter helicopter ride as there's a small airport/landing strip at the peak of the island. You can fly directly from Long Beach to Catalina Island in under 15 minutes by booking a flight though IEX Helicopters

There are two main ferries that will take you to Catalina Island, the Catalina Express and the Catalina Flyer:

Catalina Express - You can book tickets over the phone or online on their website. 

  • General seating is $75 roundtrip 
  • Commodore Lounge seating is $105 roundtrip – Includes priority boarding, complimentary beverage and snack.
  • Departs from Dana Point, San Pedro and Long Beach
  • Ferry service to Avalon and Two Harbors

Catalina Flyer - You can book tickets over the phone or online on their website. 

  • General seating is $70 roundtrip
  • Departs from Newport Beach only
  • Ferry service to Avalon only 
TIP – Keep an eye out on Groupon as they usually have a promotion on roundtrip tickets. We got our roundtrip tickets this year for only $44/each, which is a great deal! 

The Catalina Flyer is a much larger ferry compared to Catalina Express but departs from Catalina Island much earlier (last ferry service is at 4:30 p.m.). I recommend taking the Catalina Express (last ferry service is at 6:30 p.m.) if you want to utilize as much time as you can on the island. I've used both and they're pretty much the same in terms service and pretty similar in pricing. 

There are a lot of different hotel accommodations on the island as well as vacation home rentals if you're traveling with a large group. Here are a few that I came up when searching and have great reviews:

♦ Catalina Island Inn -  25 Metropole Avenue, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Hotel Metropole 205 Crescent Ave., Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Glenmore Plaza Hotel 118 Sumner - Box 155, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Hotel Atwater 125 Sumner Ave, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Bellanca Hotel 111 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Hotel Catalina 129 Whittley Avenue, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Aurora Hotel 137 Marilla Avenue, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Casa Mariquita Hotel 229 Metropole Ave, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Seacrest Inn 201 Clarissa Ave, Avalon, CA, 90704

♦ Mt. Ada - 398 Wrigley Rd, Avalon, CA 90704

♦ Golf Carts
Hands down the best way to explore the island in my opinion. You can reserve golf carts in advance, but you can also walk in to reserve one. I usually just walk in. There's a handful of  different companies that rent out the golf carts so you can just walk around Avalon harbor and spot them. They're about $50/hour depending on where you book and whether you want a 4-passenger or a 6- passenger golf cart. You need to be at least 25 years old to drive the golf carts. The golf carts are really fun to drive around the scenic views throughout the mountain. There are no car rentals at Catalina so your best bet is renting a golf cart. 

♦ Biking
Another way to explore the island is to rent bikes. There are several shops on the island and they have regular bikes and electronic bikes. There's lots of hills on the island so if you want a little workout, renting a bike would be the way to do it haha. 

♦ Walking
Ahh, walking is the easiest way to get around and allows you to enjoy all the different shops and restaurants on the island. Catalina Island is very small, only 76 square miles so you can easily walk around and explore the two main harbors - Avalon and Two Harbors just by walking. 

♦ Taxis
There aren't a lot of cars on Catalina but there are a few taxis. They're pretty pricey so unless you really need a taxi, I wouldn't recommend getting one. 

♦ Descanso Beach Club
If you prefer a relaxing vacation then I definitely recommend checking out Descanso Beach Club. You can rent a cabana for the day and just relax at the beach. The cabanas do get booked, especially on the weekends so I recommend booking them in advance. 

♦ Paragliding
I definitely recommend paragliding if you haven't done it yet. I know lots of people are afraid of heights and loved it. It's really fun and nothing like riding on an airplane. The ride is really smooth and you get amazing views from up in the air. 

Here are the places where you can book your paragliding ride: California Parasail and Island Water Charters.

♦ Kayaking/Paddle Boarding
You can rent kayaks and/or paddle boards for some fun water activities. You can book them from Wet Spot Rentals. You can see the little fishes up close this way. 

♦ Tubing/Jetskiing 
If you're interested in other water activities, then you should try tubing and jetskiing. You can book jetski rentals through Catalina Jet Ski and tubing through Island Water Charters

♦ Ziplining/Aerial Adventure
If you're up for some adventure, try ziplining or the aerial adventure "where you swing from tree to tree on a series of obstacles suspended in a grove of towering eucalyptus high above the canyon floor." You can find more information on their website here.

♦ Hiking
Only a small portion of the island is urbanized. The remaining land is full of hiking trails. Check out the different trails on the island here

♦ Biking
There are tons of trails for mountain biking on Catalina Island. It is a great way to explore the island's rugged interior and beautiful shoreline. You can bring your own bike to the island or rent one. If you bring your own bike, you need to purchase a permit with the Catalina Island Conservancy - more information on the permit can be found here. However, if you rent a bike on the island, it comes with a permit. There are several bike rental shops o the island but two of them are Brown's Bikes and Catalina E-Bike

♦ Fishing
Fishing is pretty popular here as I always see people bring their fishing poles on the ferry. I don't know much about fishing but they have fishing tours and boat rentals so you can fish on your own. More information can be found here

♦ Eco Tours/Sightseeing
If you're interested in seeing the wildlife on the island, then I recommend booking an Eco Tour. Did you know that there are bison on Catalina? The eco tours take you on a backcountry adventure on an open-air biofuel Hummer. If you take the Catalina Flyer to the island, there are usually representatives that will offer you the tours for 10% off. If you book the tours after you get to the island, it'll cost you a little bit more. Check out the Eco Tour and other adventure tours here

♦ Two Harbors
Most people are only aware of Avalon. There's a whole other side on Catalina Island. You can take a power boat from Avalon to Two Harbors. The boat ride is about 40 minutes long and I recommend spending at least half a day there so you can enjoy that side of the island. You can book a ride on the power boats here

♦ Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden
The Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden is a botanic garden and contains a memorial to William Wrigley Jr. It offers beautiful views of the island and the garden is pretty to look at. Adult tickets are $8 and they also offer tours as well. More information can be found here

There are so many great places to eat and drink on Catalina Island. Due to Covid, a lot of the restaurants are closed and indoor dining is not allowed. However, 

♦ Scoops 505 Crescent Ave., Avalon, CA 90704 
Scoops is one of the few dessert places on the island and they have everything you can think of: ice cream, gelato, crepes, acai bowls, and much more! I always get their gelato and crepes because they're soooo good! 

♦ Bluewater Grill306 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
Similar to other Bluewater Grills so if you like the seafood, this place is perfect. It's a huge restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating with views of the ocean. 

♦ Pancake Cottage615 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
Pancake Cottage is one of the best places for breakfast in my opinion. The lines are long for a table and you can expect to wait up to an hour or more if it's busy. They serve different varieties of pancakes and other traditional breakfast items. 

♦ Catalina Coffee & Cookie Company205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
There's always a line here so it must be good. I don't drink coffee so I come here for their cookies. They're always so fresh and yummy!

♦ Descanso Beach Club -  1 St Catherine Way, Avalon, CA 90704
A cute little bar and restaurant with views of the beach. They have really good cocktails here. If you rent a cabana rental, they'll even bring the food and drinks out to you directly. 

♦ Luau Larry's 509 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
Luau Larry's a tiki-theme bar and restaurant. They have a Hawaiian-inspired menu, tropical cocktails, harbor views and even live music. 

♦ Lobster Trap - 128 Catalina Ave, Avalon, CA 90704
If you love lobster then this place is for you. They have amazing lobster rolls and everything is super fresh. 

♦ Mt. Ada - 398 Wrigley Rd, Avalon, CA 90704
I definitely recommend having lunch or dinner at the patio overlooking Avalon at Mt. Ada. The views from Mt. Ada are beautiful and they offer 3-course meals for $62. 

Catalina Island is perfect for a day trip but I recommend spending at least one night there so that gives you time to do as many things as you can and fully enjoy what the island has to offer. I also recommend visiting Catalina Island when the weather is warmer so you can get in the water and enjoy the water activities.


I hope you enjoyed my ultimate guide to Catalina Island. If you're planning on heading over to Catalina Island after reading this, I hope you have a wonderful trip! :)


  1. This is so helpful!! Thankyou so much

    1. I'm so glad that it was helpful and you're so welcome! :)


Post a Comment