Things to do

19 Amazing Things to Do on Catalinas Island

Catalinas Island

Wondering about some of the finest and most delightful things to do on Catalinas Island? Catalinas Island is one of the most undervalued places in Southern California and a must-see for West Coast residents and visitors alike.

Santa Catalina Island, approximately an hour’s boat journey away and 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, California, offers a quick getaway from the city’s smog, traffic, and hectic pace of life. About 9,000 years ago, Native Indians began to dwell there.

After becoming a hangout for Hollywood celebrities in the early 20th century, it was inhabited by ranchers, smugglers, and sea otter poachers in the upcoming years. The Island is rich in history and charm, and it was where the biggest Hollywood stars would vacation in the 1920s.

This lovely location walks you through the Island’s history using old pictures, memorabilia, and tales from when the Wrigley family bought the Island. Catalinas Island has many sights and enjoyable activities, but its past contains many interesting facts.

1. What is Catalinas Island Renowned For?

Santa Catalinas Island, known as Catalina Island, is renowned for its wildlife, scuba diving, picturesque coastal communities, and Mt. Orizaba, its highest point.

The summer is fantastic since the water is so warm for swimming, but from June to September, lodging costs virtually treble. Plan your vacation from April to May or late September to October for the most critical weather conditions to explore Catalinas.

Despite its modest size, Catalinas offers many entertaining things for tourists, from the stunning scenery to the kind residents that greet you with open arms, the food, and the ocean. A day excursion to Catalinas Island is one of those things that can never lead to regret.

You will be able to find inexpensive things to do on Catalina Island or even free things to do when exploring the mainland, despite the abundance of upmarket locations to explore. So sit back, unwind, and prepare for an exciting excursion through Santa Catalina, the Island’s historical, amusing, and cultural landscape.

2. Best Things to Do on Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a breathtaking treasure that is visited on several Mexican tours. If you go to Catalina Island, you could spend the day diving, hiking, touring historic sites, or just lounging on the beach. Choosing from the numerous exciting things to do on Catalina Island is challenging, but here are 19 fantastic suggestions.

2.1. Catalina Island Casino

The Catalina Island Casino is a sizable meeting place on Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles in California. The Catalina Island Casino, which opened its doors in 1929, is the principal attraction and one of the main reasons of interest for any traveler.

2.1.2. Where is it Located?

It is at 1 Casino Way, Avalon, CA 90704, United States. Catalina Island Casino has been a tourist destination for three generations. It is the largest building on the Island and the most prominent landmark in Avalon Bay as you approach the Island from the mainland.

The casino, which exemplifies the style and romanticism of Catalina Island, has hosted numerous well-known performers, top-notch theatre performances, and first-run motion pictures. It still screens first-run films every night in the original movie theatre.

2.2. Wrigley Botanical Gardens

Another of the most beautiful things to do on Catalina Island is to check out the Botanical Gardens. The Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden honors the memories of chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley Jr., who lived from 1861 to 1932. It is located 1.5 miles inland on Avalon Canyon Rd.

The gardens and monument, run by the Catalina Island Conservancy, are in the Avalon Canyon and serve as the starting point for the Garden to Sky Trail, one of the most well-known hikes on the Island. Spread across 38 acres of lush meadows; the garden is home to many endemic species of California plants, many of which are endangered.

The Wrigley Memorial, a 130-foot tower constructed in 1934 from local materials, is the garden’s focal point. The man who founded the Wm. Wrigley Jr. is honored by the memorial.

2.2.1 Why This Wrigley Botanical Garden is a Must-Visit?

Visit this Garden to see a tower that holds the actual Wrigley Monument, and it is a must-see if you are interested in knowing more about one of the most successful men in history. You may stroll, cycle, hire a golf cart, or ride the local shuttle up the entrance, where you will be met with indigenous plants on the Island. It was the world’s largest chewing gum maker at the time, and it played an essential role in the history of Santa Catalina Island.

2.3. Descanso Beach Club

Descanso Beach Club is a private beach cove behind the Catalina Island Casino. The Catalina Island Casino features a variety of activities and entertainment options suitable for the entire family. It may be found at 1 St Catherine Way in Avalon, California, 90704 in the United States. On Catalina Island, the Descanso Beach Club is a private beach and cove that offers various activities ideal for couples looking to unwind and reconnect with one another.

The Descanso Beach Club Restaurant is Catalina’s only coastal restaurant and provides outstanding cuisine and beverages throughout the day and an exclusive beach delivery service. The private beach is surrounded by loungers, restaurants, and bars, making it the ideal location for enjoying the beach scene during the day and the exciting nightlife after the sun goes down.

One of the best things to do on Catalina Island is to eat at this nautically themed restaurant, which is consistently one of the busiest places to go for dinner on the Island and one of the best places to go if you want to enjoy some of the freshest seafood and the day’s catch.

2.3.1 What Does This Club Offer?

The club offers a variety of outdoor and marine sports, including zip lining, climbing on the Catalina Climbing Wall, kayaking, and scuba diving. Enjoy a drink and a delicious meal on the beach at Descanso Beach Club. High-end amenities for discriminating visitors include private cabanas, chaise loungers, and beach massages by specialized personnel.

This unpretentious establishment is the ideal setting for a leisurely lunch on the beach, thanks to its laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy your food and drinks all day while sitting at the bar, on a beach towel, or in a lounge chair with an umbrella.

2.4. Catalina Island Museum

Catalina Island Museum for Art and History is one of the top things to do on Catalina Island for individuals interested in the Island’s history.

By Catalina Island Museum

The Catalina Island Museum’s primary goal is to educate visitors about the Island’s history, which spans thousands of years. You’ll discover more than works of art and historical items here.

2.4.1 Why This Museum is a Must-Visit?

The Museum hosts a range of lectures, workshops, or special events for visitors to learn about, understand, and obtain a personal perspective on the unique history of the extraordinary island. The Museum includes rotating exhibits, live music and dance performances, guest speakers, and various film showings.

2.5. Green Pleasure Pier

The Green Pleasure Pier is a well-known landmark on Catalina Island and a significant part of the Island’s history. The pier may be found in Avalon Bay, protruding out in the vicinity of Crescent Avenue and Catalina Avenue. The port is packed with relics and artifacts from the Island’s past and stretches out into the water for a little over 400 feet.

Green Pleasure Pier was initially built to alleviate congestion caused by fishermen and incoming boats. These days, however, it serves as a center for excitement and activities for locals and tourists alike, and it is nearly impossible to miss.

2.5.1. Why Go to This Place?

Visit this Place because the Visitor Center is also located here, so it’s a fantastic spot to stop and receive visitor information if you’re interested in diving and safari trips. Guests may observe the day’s following big catch being reeled in, get answers to their Catalina Island inquiries at the Love Catalina Island’s Visitor Center, book island excursions, and find a variety of comfort foods.

You can catch opaleye, blue perch, and sheepshead bass when you fish from the pier. Larger game fish, such as tuna and wahoo, can be seen from a boat if the angler travels further into deeper water.

2.6. Trans-Catalina Trail

The Trans-Catalina Trail spans the entire length of Santa Catalina Island, from Avalon in the east to Starlight Beach in the west, a total distance of 37.2 miles. After finishing the trail, hikers must return to Two Harbors to catch a boat that will take them back to the mainland. This will add another nine miles, bringing the total to more than 46 miles.

Hiking about Catalina Island and taking in all of the Island’s breathtaking scenery is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable things to do on Catalina Island. Along the Trans Catalina Trail are treks for all skill levels and lengths of time, from short one-hour strolls to multi-day excursions.

The Trans Catalina Trail has a total elevation rise of almost 10,000 feet, so pack your boots and grit. Hiking permits can be bought at the Two Harbors Visitor’s Services Center, making the region around Two Harbors an ideal destination for a multi-day backpacking trip over the weekend.

All area’s day walks range from simple to challenging, making them suitable for inexperienced and experienced trekkers. There are other shorter hikes that you can finish on your own from Avalon, including Two Harbors, Parsons Landing, and Little Harbor.

The trail has five campgrounds maintained by the Santa Catalina Island Corporation. Several campsites are accessible only by boat, including Two Harbors, Parsons Landing, and Little Harbor. After leaving Avalon, you will be required to have a hiking permit, which can be obtained from the Catalina Island Conservancy in a matter of minutes and costs nothing.

Mountain bike enthusiasts can enjoy miles of tracks on Catalina Island. You’ll travel through the Island’s untamed interior and take breathtaking views of the brilliant blue bays. Bike rentals are available on the Island, or you can bring your bike over on the ferry.

2.7. Avalon Theatre

The Avalon Theatre, a vintage movie palace that has been showing first-run films since 1929, is one of Catalina’s more distinctive attractions and a popular one. It is situated on the casino’s lower level.

2.7.1 Where Does it Locate?

The theatre, located beneath the Casino Ballroom, has a capacity of 1,184 people and is wonderfully adorned in an “atmospheric” manner. It features ancient Roman-inspired tiled mural panels and other Art Deco murals painted by the well-known artist John Gabriel Beckman.

The theatre also features superb acoustics and has a Page Organ Co-rank theatre organ, which is still regularly used for weekend film performances. The Avalon Theater hosts film screenings every evening of the week, and on the weekends, they also host special performances and screenings.

2.8. The Nature Centre at Avalon Canyon

The Nature Center in Avalon Canyon is one of two nature institutes built by the Catalina Island Conservancy to safeguard and preserve the native fauna and flora of Catalina Island. A Resource Center is accessible for students and instructors, and there is a range of engaging, hands-on activities for people of all ages to investigate at the Nature Center, located at 1202 Avalon Canyon Road.

2.8.1 What Does This Nature Centre at Avalon Canyon Offer?

The Nature Center offers a plethora of instructive exhibits and displays that focus on the natural history and conservation efforts on the Island. Images showcasing the Island’s wild and scenic side, such as its mountainous landscapes and hidden coves with their sparkling seas, as well as photographs of the Island’s animals, vegetation, geology, and marine life, are included in graphic exhibits on the Island.

The Nature Center may be reached by foot in only twenty simple minutes along Avalon Canyon, which can also be traveled by golf cart, tram, or bicycle. Downtown Avalon is a great place to go for a stroll because there is a diverse selection of stores and restaurants to choose from there.

2.9. Bluewater Avalon

Bluewater Avalon is situated on the historic SS Catalina Ferry dock site, which affords guests breathtaking views of the harbor and the beach. The seafood is excellent, and there are lovely waterfront views. The expansive outdoor terrace and the cozy indoor dining room provide guests with excellent vantage points from which to take in the picturesque views of the bay.

2.9.1 Why You Should Go to This Place?

Bluewater Avalon is a seafood restaurant that takes the traditional New England eatery and gives it a unique twist to Catalina Island. Homemade chowders, fish and chips, and the restaurant’s famous cioppino are among the establishment’s specialties. Lobster, swordfish, sanddabs, and various locally caught species are also available on the menu.

There is a fantastic outside deck where you can enjoy delectable cuisine and drinks and a full bar menu right on the sea. The fresh seafood options and the beer on tap were also excellent.

2.10. Scenic Drive

The primary town on Catalina Island, Avalon, is only one square mile in size, and most of its points of interest are within easy walking distance. If you want to drive about the Island, you can rent a golf cart and easily explore the mountainous terrain.

The Vrbo property, where you can stay, comes with a golf cart, and you can take advantage of it and spend approximately an hour driving around the Island, which is plenty of time to do so.

The scenery is breathtaking, and there are deer in almost every direction you look. Because so many deer are on the Island, you must be extra careful when behind the wheel, especially at nighttime.

2.11. Rent a Golf Cart

Catalina’s local means of transportation is another best place to visit among the best things to do on Catalina Island and one of the best ways to get around the area. Avalon is a small island where few people own automobiles, so if you’ve never been there before, it might be better to start by renting a golf cart, the main transportation form there.

Photo By Perry Merrity II / Unsplash Copyright 2023

2.11.1. Best Things to Do Here

You can rent the coaches on the day of your visit on either side of the boardwalk, and a self-guided tour takes between one and two hours. This tour will provide you with an overview of the rest of your vacation itinerary. You can ride it to the Casino and Descanso Beach, up to the Wrigley Monument and gardens, and all the way around to the Island’s most stunning sights, and thus, it is one of the top things to do on Catalina Island.

If you are short on time or weary of walking, this is the perfect way to see the nooks and crannies of Avalon plus, take their scenic route, which covers much of the Island; this is also a terrific way to get to the Wrigley Botanical Garden. The locals get around via golf carts, and you can see everyone buzzing around town with their dogs as if these carts were automobiles. In Avalon, there are a few locations where you may rent golf carts hourly.

2.12. Catalina Express

Catalina Express can transport visitors from the mainland to Catalina Island in just one hour, thanks to its fleet of eight high-speed boats. Going to Catalina is half the fun! In addition, traveling to either Avalon or Two Harbors is a breeze from this location. Transporting through Catalina Express is among the other best things to do on Catalina Island.

2.12.1 What is The Specialty of This Catalina Express?

The Catalina Express is a fleet of eight high-speed boats that makes round trips between San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point and the two ports of Catalina Island. Although the ships are comfortable, including both indoor and outdoor seating, a refreshment service, a full bar, and restrooms, it is generally advised to board the Catalina Express because it is typically the fastest boat option and takes up the majority of the boat fleet that travels back and forth to Catalina Island.

2.13. Bison Expedition

The popular Bison Adventure is a one-of-a-kind activity that can only be found on Catalina Island. It consists of an action-packed, bumpy jeep ride through Catalina Island, California’s windy and twisting hills. The American bison were brought to the Island for a movie shoot in the early part of the 20th century, and, surprise, surprise; they multiplied after that. Thus, it is among the other best things to do on Catalina Island.

2.13.1 What Does This Bison Expedition Offer?

The 2-hour 4-wheeling experience offers an excellent opportunity to observe American bison in the wild as you go through the majestic animals’ favorite grazing sites, proclaimed the United States’ national mammal in 2016.

It’s doubtful you’ll run across a bison in town because the Catalina Island Conservancy keeps the herd at roughly 150 to protect the bison and the surrounding environment.

However, it’s well worth it to take the Bison Expedition tour to get up and personal with these gigantic creatures and also to get a glimpse of the largely pristine nature that can be found in the interior of the Island, which is only accessible on these tours and significant multi-day hikes.

2.14. Golf Garden Mini Golf

Avalon’s Golf Gardens is ideal for you and your family, particularly if you are searching for ways to let your children expend some of their boundless energy in a stimulating and entertaining setting.

Whether you are on Santa Catalina Island today or will be there this weekend, now is the ideal time to visit their miniature golf course and take advantage of the warm sunshine and gentle wind California offers. This is among the other best things to do on Catalina Island.

This mini-golf course is designed for the mini-golf aficionado; it lacks any stupid clowns or silly towers. There are indeed some destinations to visit that are unique to this planet. But, if you plan on staying on the Island for a more extended period, putting a note in your calendar about this location may be in your best interest.

2.15. Catalina Snorkel And Scuba

It’s worth snorkeling or scuba diving on Catalina Island whether you have your equipment or need to rent it there. If you don’t like scuba diving but still want to enjoy water sports, visiting this place is among the other best things to do on Catalina Island. This Island is a prevalent location for snorkelers, free divers, and scuba divers alike due to the brilliant blue seas and the richness of marine life that can be found there.

By Catalina Snorkel And Scuba

2.15.1 What Does This Offer?

Diving Catalina offers a choice of scuba-diving and snorkeling experiences suitable for divers of all skill levels. Avalon Underwater Park Guided Scuba Dives Tours, Catalina Island Snorkeling Tours, and Power Snorkeling at the Casino Point Dive Park are available tours. The waters of Casino Point Dive Park are apparent, and there are beautiful underwater gardens, coral reefs, and a wide variety of fish and invertebrates for snorkelers to explore. The Avalon Underwater Dive Park is an excellent location for scuba diving.

2.15.2. What Does It Provide?

It provides scuba equipment rental, scuba tours with guides, underwater camps explicitly designed for children, and more. The Underwater Dive Park is a hotspot for scuba divers and snorkelers worldwide near the renowned Casino Building. It offers some of the best beach diving in California.

2.16. The Lobster Trap

The Lobster Trap is a Catalina Island fresh fish restaurant with outstanding meals, pleasant employees, and a relaxed atmosphere. The Lobster Trap is frequently mentioned as the preferred restaurant in Avalon by locals and tourists.

By The Lobster Trap

They are one of the best bars on Catalina Island and are open for lunch and dinner. Our fresh seafood is our specialty, but our menu features various dishes to cater to customers of all tastes. Catalina offers a wide variety of experiences, but this is undoubtedly one of the more unusual things to do on Catalina Island.

2.16.1 Why is this Restaurant a Must Visit?

The Lobster Trap is a restaurant on Catalina Island known for its excellent food, relaxed atmosphere, and helpful staff. They specialize in serving fresh fish. The Lobster Trap serves fresh seafood for lunch and dinner and has one of Catalina Island’s most excellent bars. The draft beer, generous meals, and laid-back environment are typical draws for the community’s residents.

2.17. Silver Canyon Pottery

Visiting Silver Canyon Pottery is among the other best things to do on Catalina Island. Silver Canyon Pottery was established in 1988 by Island resident Robin Cassidy, who is well-known for her efforts in repairing the downtown Avalon tiles, which were notably manufactured on the Island throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

2.17.1 Why You Should Go to This Pottery?

Silver Canyon Pottery carries on the legacy by producing many tiles to repair historical installations around the island town. The studio is situated in the former Catalina Pottery and Tile factory, which was located near Pebbly Beach. Between 1928 and 1939, the factory produced various ceramic works, including dinnerware, figurines, and decorative tile.

During the popular studio tours, guests can explore the intriguing history of Catalina Brick, Pottery, and Tile while also visiting the pottery studio and seeing how the stunning products are created.

Aspiring artists can acquire all of the abilities essential for making pottery by listening to and following the teachings of established potters in their community and learning how to form, throw, and fire their creations. On the lively studio balcony overlooking the lake, visitors can leisurely browse a sizable library loaded with books about Catalina.

2.18. Zipline Eco-tour

The zip line eco tour is one of Catalina’s most popular outdoor sports and one of the best things to do on Catalina Island. During this tour, you will ride a shuttle up to a ridge around 200 meters (600 feet) in height, and then you will zip line your way down the canyon in a zigzag pattern.

This is the favorite of the outdoor activities and things to do on Catalina Island. Thrill seekers will adore the sensation of the wind on their faces as they glide down at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

The Zipline Eco Tour begins at the summit of a hill approximately 600 feet high. It makes its way down to the Descanso Beach Club after passengers can experience five different lines. The view of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island’s flora and fauna as you fly by stands out about this trip. This activity needs to be scheduled in advance and lasts about two hours.

2.19. Two Harbors

Two Harbors, a small beach community on Catalina Island’s isthmus, is named from the town’s two harbors, Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor. Situated 20 miles away from Avalon, the harbors are divided by a half-mile-wide strip of land, and Two Harbors may be accessed from the mainland via a high-speed ferry from San Pedro. Exploring this place, Two Harbors is among the other best things to do on Catalina Island.

2.19.1 What Do Two Harbors Offer?

Two Harbors offers a multitude of luxurious lodgings, ranging from bed & breakfasts, cottages, and campers, as well as a choice of restaurants, cafés, and pubs. In addition to hiking, mountain biking, camping, and pleasure boating, visitors can engage in various recreational pursuits in the islands’ stunning seas, including kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The municipality also offers year-round special event services and a contemporary Visitors Service Center.

3. Conclusion

Thank you for reading this article. Hope you found this article helpful. It is a charming little place with many fascinating things to do on Catalinas Island. Catalinas combines the spirit of exploration with recorded history in our list of the top 10 things to do on Catalinas Island, thanks to its museums, recreational areas, diversity of Restaurants, and antique shops.

Catalinas Island is an area in Southern California with a selection of bars and museums, tourism hotspots, and picturesque settings.

There are a lot of vineyards and orchards in the city where the temperatures are comfortable. To make the most of your time here, we suggest you stop by each place we mentioned in the top 10 best things to do on Catalina Island.

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Pooja Thakur

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