Constantly changing and always revealing a new side of itself, the island takes a lifetime to explore. New places, new experiences and new adventures constantly beckon.
Ready to step off the road more traveled? Read on for 7 off-the-beaten-path Catalina Island destinations.
Catalina Island's Interior: The vast majority of visitors to Catalina Island are content exploring the seaside village of Avalon, with its Mediterranean ambiance and scenic waterfront. But just outside the city limits, Catalina Island offers 76 square miles of undeveloped wilderness to explore. Hiking, camping and mountain biking are popular ways to immerse yourself in Catalina Island’s wildlands, but adventurers can also take a tour, either via bus, naturalist guide or off-road vehicle. Protected from development by the Catalina Island Conservancy, the island’s interior abounds with unique wildlife, awe-inspiring seascapes and spectacular vistas.
Two Harbors: With daily ferry service most of the year, Two Harbors is a popular Catalina Island destination for boaters, campers and adventurers. Located at the West End of the island, the unique resort village offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including scuba, snorkeling, hiking and kayaking. Visitors will discover a legendary bar, a snack stand and a restaurant, as well as a general store, a backdrop fitting for many a Hollywood film. Accommodations in Two Harbors range from camping to luxury vacation rentals and include an historic bed and breakfast once the hunting lodge of the Banning family, early owners of the island.
Little Harbor: One of Catalina Island’s top destinations for campers, Little Harbor is located on the island’s windward side, facing the Pacific. Renowned for its spectacular sunsets and unforgettable hiking, Little Harbor also offers a wide beach, great snorkeling and summer-time beach activities. The area’s many campsites can be reserved online, or transportation can be arranged through the Catalina Island Conservancy's Wildlands Express.
Learn more: Since it opened in 2013, the Catalina Island Museum has become one of the top Catalina Island attractions and it’s not hard to see why. A fascinating permanent exhibit on island history is complemented by the addition of an ever-changing array of temporary exhibits. As intriguing as it is, the museum is not the only place to learn more about Catalina Island:
- The Avalon Diving History Exhibit, in the ground floor of the Catalina Casino, chronicles the history of this diverse activity.
- In Avalon Canyon, visitors can learn more about the island’s natural history at the Nature Center, operated by the Catalina Island Conservancy.
Cruise the coast: One of the biggest attractions on Catalina Island is the island’s dramatic coastline. With more than 50 miles of shoreline, that coast includes rugged cliffs and protected beaches, crashing surf and gentle tides along with an array of fascinating marine life. Exploring Catalina’s shores is a popular way to get off the beaten path and explore beyond the ordinary.
- Sailing: Let the power of Mother Nature move you on a half-day cruise along Catalina Island’s coastline.
- Kayaking: Ocean kayaking is one of the most popular ways to explore the coast and thanks to the protected waters of island’s leeward side this fascinating activity is easily accomplished.
- Whale watching: Several species of whales, including gray whales, humpback whales and blue whales, as well as dolphins, are regularly spotted around the island.
- Fishing: Catalina Island has been a mecca for anglers for more than 100 years. Depending on the season, you can set out in pursuit of tuna, marlin, halibut and sea bass.
- On your own: Be your own captain on a rental skiff and check out the coves and coastline near Avalon.
Astronomy experience: Far from the overwhelming light pollution of the Southern California mainland, the stars above Catalina Island are big and bright, glistening in their constellations as they invite imagination and introspection. Whether camping in the interior or just on an evening stroll along the waterfront, island visitors are amazed at the night sky above Catalina Island. To get an in-depth look, book an astronomy experience with a local astronomer, who will bring the skies – and the stars – even closer.
Coastal camping: Scattered along Catalina Island’s leeward coast are several primitive campsites. Accessible only by boat, these unique Catalina Island destinations offer unparalleled isolation and adventure and are the perfect experience for travelers looking to step off the beaten path and adventure beyond the everyday.