Care for Catalina

Visit the Island, but with a light footprint. 

When visiting Catalina Island, the need to be conscious of limiting waste and consumption of precious resources is paramount to the long-term experiences had by visitors and residents alike.  Likewise, limiting human impacts and protecting our environment are necessary so that future generations can continue to enjoy this very special place. 

As a community, we are working hard on sustainability.  The Catalina Island Conservancy manages nearly 90 percent of Catalina’s majestic landscape.  Learn about and respect the spaces they protect and offer for your enjoyment. They were honored as CalTravel's Tourism Steward of the year for 2018/19 due to their extensive work on trails and greening of infrastructure under their control (and much, much more). We also work closely with the Catalina Island Marine Protection Area's collaborative group to inform where boating and fishing is allowed/limited or not allowed around our island.  The majority, if not all, of our local fishing boats and seafood restaurants support sustainable practices too.  Love Catalina Island, the Catalina Island Tourism Authority, is a proud member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.  Check out our destination vision and work plan here.  Care for Catalina is an evolving program, so check back frequently for additions and changes.

One of the best ways to minimize your impact as a visitor, is to travel to our more off-the-beaten path locations or at off-peak days/times of year. Some other ways to visit the island with a limited impact are outlined below.  July is the busiest month of the year and Saturdays have the highest number of guests arriving on the island.  For assistance in planning your low impact visit, contact the Catalina Island Visitor Center.  We are always open to suggestions and comments based on your experience on the island. 

Recycle Catalina Island from Love Catalina on Vimeo.

Leave it like you found it, or even better! 

  • Carry in, Carry out. Pick up litter and place crumbs, peels and cores in your nearest waste/recycling bin. If you brought it with you to the island, please take it home when you go. 
  • Treat all living things with respect. Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.
  • One of the most important items to take away are plastic beach toys.  For the comfort and space among your fellow travelers, be sure to deflate them before heading home,
  • Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others experience the joy of discovery. 
  • Any of our 400 native plants and 200 non-native plant species will live forever in a photo. Snap away, but only with a camera.
  • Participate in Voluntourism programs like beach clean-ups, harbor clean-ups and more.  Consider making a group project of Voluntourism before or after your island meeting/event.
  • Avoid use of plastics whenever possible, as plastics are the top ocean pollutant and are extremely harmful to ocean species.
  • If you come into contact with a sick or injured wild animal contact the appropriate agency for their care.  Report sick or injured marine animals to 800-399-4253 and land animals to 310-510-0393.

Care for our precious natural resources

  • Skipping a linen change in your Hotel or Bed & Breakfast stay saves over 17 gallons of water and reduces use of fossil fuels and cleaning chemicals.
  • Short Showers should be the norm no matter where you go, but even more so on Catalina Island where we have to depend on mother nature or expensive desalinization systems to provide water.
  • Avoid sunscreens with high content of Titanium Dioxide. This mineral does not biodegrade and is found to react in warm seawater to form hydrogen peroxide which is harmful to all sea life. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, the two chemicals recently banned in Hawaii and are believed to cause coral bleaching.
  • Keep your distance. Wash yourself, your dog or whatever else needs cleaning at least 200 feet from waterways, and use biodegradable soap.

Protect marine life ~ boater information

  • Never dump raw sewage into the waters in and around the island.*
  • Use public toilets onshore.
  • Use pump out facilities (Catalina Harbor or Two Harbors) to dispose of holding tank waste.
  • Keep “Y” valve properly secured and in the closed position when navigating around the island to prevent accidental discharge.
  • Use caution when filling your fuel tank and don’t top off.
  • Inspect fuel lines and hoses periodically. Replace when needed.
  • Do not hose down gas spills or apply detergents or soaps to spill.
  • Keep your bilges clean and well maintained. Do not use detergents while cleaning.
  • Never throw trash overboard.
  • Prevent plastic bags, drink cans and loose items from blowing overboard.
  • Separate all trash; a trash pick-up vessel, “The Salad Boat," services all leeside coves during the summer months. However, returning your trash to the mainland is greatly appreciated.
  • Avalon Harbor Dept. discharge ordinance

*Discharges of untreated sewage are prohibited within the navigable waters of the U.S. Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C.1321 et seq.)

Pack light, pack right

  • Bring along reusable water bottles or hot drink tumblers to limit waste and stay hydrated without the plastic waste.  A map of Avalon’s free water bottle filling stations and additional options are found in campgrounds in the Island’s interior. 
  • Every ounce counts in fuel consumption on our boats, planes and helicopters that bring guests to and from the island.  Coordinate with your fellow travelers to eliminate duplication in packing.  Limit your total weight of carry-ons to 50lbs or less.  Avalon’s stores and restaurants offer most everything you would find on the mainland, so there is no need to pack food and supplies except for highly specialized items. 

Stick To It (the Trail that is)

  • Even though shortcuts can be tempting, please don’t take them. A few extra strides on the path will protect plants and the homes of the true locals.
  • With 165 miles of marked trails, eight designated campsites and 17 boat-in campsites, there’s no need to venture beyond. By sticking to these areas and camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams, you’re helping natural areas stay natural.

Be Careful With Fire

  • Always check for fire restrictions.
  • Despite our cool island breezes, summer heat can create dry, dangerous conditions. Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid sparking wildfires.  Use only designated locations for campfires.
  • Never let a fire burn unattended.  When putting out a fire, water it until you can handle the embers.
  • Use care when smoking. Always put cigarettes out completely and don’t leave your butts behind.  And, beware, there is no smoking allowed on Avalon’s beaches.

Keep Wildlife Wild

  • Catalina is home to over 60 plant and animal species found only on Catalina Island and nowhere else in the world. It is not unusual to come into their proximity.  To keep them – and you – safe, don’t approach them.
  • It is not adorable to feed wild animals. You could alter natural behaviors, exposing them to predators or even euthanasia.
  • Keep your pets leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails, and pack out their waste ... all the way to a trash can.  Dogs are not allowed on Avalon’s waterfront beaches or along Crescent Avenue, but there are plenty of pet-friendly places to take Fido elsewhere.

Politely Share the Trails, Camps & Beaches

  • Get some JOMO (Joy of Missing Out), by silencing your cell phone before stepping into nature and speaking softly without using the speaker function.
  • Chances are you’re not out in nature to people watch, so try out the lesser-known paths and sites.
  • Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker – they need the momentum.
  • Listen to nature. Keep your voice and music soft so all can enjoy the peace of Catalina Island.

Community Based Actions

Care for Catalina is not only about visiting the island, it’s also about caring for the island as a resident. 

  • Community-wide clean-up day.  On April 13, 2019 we held our first community wide clean-up day.  Our next community wide clean-up day is scheduled for Saturday, September 3, 2022.   Participants include civic groups like Avalon Rotary and Interact Clubs,  City of Avalon Public Works and Department of Recreation, Boy and Girl Scouts, Avalon Teen Center, area nonprofits including the Catalina Island Conservancy and Avalon Beautiful, plus a wide range of for-profit businesses, all donating time, talent and money to make the clean-up have a high impact.  We intend to keep 100% of the trash/debris collected out of our very limited landfill, by shipping directly to recycling centers off island. 
  • We have also done a study to determine the ways visitors and locals are taxing our infrastructure and determined that but for a handful of days per year, our infrastructure is meeting demand. 
  • In partnership with SMG, we implemented a resident and business sentiment survey that asked questions about the impressions both sectors have on the impacts of visitors to the island and to segment any differences in the impressions by homeowner, vacation homeowner, business owner, renter, etc.   


Care for Catalina


The following organizations have joined in partnership with the Care for Catalina in improving the sustainability of the Island.

Upcoming Events

41st Annual Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup

Catalina Divers Supply

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Catalina Divers Supply and the Avalon Rotary Club Foundation are proud to host this annual event. This is the only time scuba diving is...

Southern California Edison

Water Conservation Recognition Program

November 2022

Who: Chet's Hardware 
Date: 10/23/22
Nominated by: Steve Whittington
Conservation Story:

  • Since Aug/2022, Chet's Hardware installed an 850-gallon storage tank to collect air conditioner and ice machine condensation, with plans to also connect it to their rain runoff system
  • The water collected goes to their Nursery, which saves an estimated 600 gallons per month (7,200 gallons/year, 0.022 acre-feet per year)

Validation: Customer’s water use reduction of >25% in Summer 2022 vs Summer 2021, even when the rest of the system showed an average increase of roughly 12%

Have a nomination? Please send your water conservation story to to help spread awareness in the community and have a chance to receive a small prize.