Summer and vacation go together like sea and sand – especially when your vacation destination is Santa Catalina Island. While the island is unforgettable any time of the year, it’s summer that made it famous.

Ideal weather and warmer water combined with Catalina Island’s dramatic natural scenery create the perfect foundation for summer vacation memories that will last a lifetime. Add in a buffet of options for Catalina Island activities and things to do and there’s no reason not to come.

Nine things to do on Catalina Island this summer

1. Soar above it all: Seeing Catalina from sea and shore is spectacular – and so is seeing it from the sky. Parasailing and helicopter tours will allow you get a bird’s eye view of this Southern California island paradise.

2. Get out of town: Avalon’s unique activities, delicious dining and compelling shopping – along with its Mediterranean ambiance – can keep visitors intrigued for days, but this summer take the time to explore further afield. Just beyond Avalon, Catalina Island’s wildlands await, an undeveloped wonderland with unique wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes. Learn about Catalina Island interior tours.

3. Dine to your heart’s content: In the summer months, hungry visitors will discover a full complement of Catalina Island dining options, ranging from fish and chips on the pier to carefully crafted culinary creations. In addition to island favorites, Catalina Island visitors will discover Topside, now open at The Trailhead, and NDMK, offering fresh fish on Claressa Avenue.

4. Plunge beneath the surface: Catalina Island’s fascinating marine environment is one of the most diverse on the coast, with amber fronds of kelp sheltering a unique ecosystem of fish, invertebrates and marine mammals. Summer’s warmer temperatures make the season perfect time to explore that unique ecosystem. Snorkeling and scuba diving as well as snuba – a combination of the two – are ideal summer-time activities on Catalina Island. Local dive operators can arrange a number of experiences, from first-time snorkeling experiences to advanced courses for experienced divers.

5. Explore the shore: Santa Catalina Island features more than 50 miles of coastline, ranging from dramatic cliffs to sheltered coves. Things to do on Catalina this summer include paddleboards, kayaking and rental skiffs as well as boat tours, fishing charters and sunset cruises.

6. Feel the beat: The perfect weather and abundant things to do aren’t the only reasons to visit Catalina Island in the summer, you’ll also discover plenty of live music, including the Summer Music Concerts with a series of family-friendly free concerts on Wrigley Stage. With a backdrop of Avalon Harbor, these concerts get everyone singing along and dancing in the streets. 

7. Take a stroll: From Avalon’s streets to Catalina Island trails, the island is the perfect spot for a stroll, a walk or a hike. The Avalon waterfront beckons in the long summer twilight and there’s nothing like a moonlight stroll when the moon reflects on the water. A morning stroll rewards walkers with beautiful scenery, charming streets and a range of experiences from strenuous to relaxed. In the interior of the island, hikers discover an extensive trail system crowned with the Trans-Catalina Trail, a challenging experience requiring a multi-day commitment.

Use pedal power: Biking on Catalina Island offers something for everyone. Families will enjoy exploring Avalon’s quaint streets and beautiful waterfront, with tandem bikes and more available for pedaling. For mountain biking enthusiasts the undeveloped interior of the island is a mecca of trails and dirt roads, ideal for exploring and adventure. A permit is required, but once you have it’s good for year. Bikes can be brought to the island or are available for rent once you are here.

Get planning: While summer is an ideal time to explore the island, the rest of the year offers plenty of reasons to return. Fall is festival season on Catalina Island, with special events dedication to film, wine, art, jazz and more. Winter’s subdued pace and relaxed ambiance make it the perfect time to schedule a romantic getaway. And Spring wildflowers and cooler temperatures call to adventurers and explorers alike.

Map of Avalon
Avalon Hiking/Running Map
Catalina Island ​Interior Trail Map