santa catalina island

Want to discover which are the best things to do in Santa Catalina Island?

Nestled off the southern coast of California lies a picturesque gem that beckons travelers with its serene beauty, intriguing history, and an abundance of activities—Santa Catalina Island.

Known simply as Catalina Island to many, this idyllic destination offers a unique blend of natural splendor and vibrant culture, making it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The island’s history is as rich and colorful as the marine life that inhabits its waters.

Initially inhabited by the Tongva people, Catalina has seen its fair share of European explorers, gold diggers, and even smugglers throughout the years.

In the 20th century, it became a glamorous getaway for Hollywood stars, thanks to the efforts of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., who invested in its development.

Today, Catalina Island merges its historical legacy with modern-day attractions, creating a fascinating narrative for visitors to discover.

From the charming city streets of Avalon to the rugged, untouched beauty of its interior, Catalina Island offers a myriad of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island” for every type of adventurer.

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant history, explore its marine life through snorkeling or diving, hike its scenic trails, or simply relax on its beautiful beaches, Catalina has something for everyone.

This guide will navigate through 15 must-do activities that highlight the island’s unparalleled charm, ensuring your visit is nothing short of magical.

Stay tuned as we delve into the heart of Catalina Island, exploring each activity that makes this destination a must-visit for travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, and a touch of the extraordinary.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone looking to unwind in a picturesque setting, our list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island” promises to enrich your journey with unforgettable experiences.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the 15 best things to do in Santa Catalina Island:

1. Explore Avalon

Santa Catalina Island avalon

Avalon, the enchanting city that serves as the gateway to Catalina Island, is more than just a destination; it’s an experience.

As the island’s main hub, Avalon wraps visitors in its small-town charm, blending seamlessly with the natural beauty and historical richness that defines Catalina Island.

With its picturesque harbor, quaint shops, and Mediterranean-like climate, Avalon is the perfect starting point for anyone looking to explore the myriad of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

The Avalon Theater

One of Avalon’s crowning jewels is the Avalon Theater, located within the iconic Catalina Casino.

This Art Deco masterpiece isn’t just a movie theater; it’s a portal to the golden age of cinema, where visitors can enjoy movies in an atmosphere imbued with history and glamour.

The theater boasts a stunning, 50-foot domed ceiling adorned with a classic mural by John Gabriel Beckman, creating a viewing experience that’s as visually captivating as the films on screen.

Beyond its regular movie showings, the Avalon Theater also serves as a venue for various cultural events, making it a vital part of Avalon’s social and entertainment scene.

Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden

Just a short stroll from the heart of Avalon lies the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, a tribute to the conservation efforts of William Wrigley Jr., and a showcase of Catalina Island’s native flora.

The memorial itself is an architectural marvel, constructed using locally sourced materials, and offers panoramic views of the island from its tower.

Surrounding the memorial, the botanic garden spans 38 acres, featuring plants endemic to California’s Channel Islands.

This peaceful sanctuary not only offers a glimpse into the island’s botanical diversity but also serves as a haven for those seeking tranquility amidst nature’s beauty.

Both the Avalon Theater and the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden are key attractions that highlight Avalon’s rich cultural heritage and natural splendor.

These landmarks are just a taste of the “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” inviting visitors to delve deeper into the island’s allure.

Whether you’re wandering the charming streets of Avalon, taking in a movie in the historic theater, or exploring the serene botanic garden, you’re engaging with the heart and soul of Catalina Island.

2. Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Santa Catalina Island Glass bottom boat

Embarking on a glass bottom boat tour is a must-do activity for any visitor to Catalina Island, offering an unparalleled glimpse into the vibrant underwater world that lies beneath the Pacific’s surface.

These tours provide a window to the island’s marine ecosystem, allowing passengers to observe an array of sea life and underwater flora without getting wet.

It’s an enchanting experience that combines adventure with education, making it a perfect outing for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.

Where to Find Boat Tours

Glass bottom boat tours are primarily available in Avalon, with several operators launching from the Green Pleasure Pier or nearby docks.

These tours vary in length and scope, ranging from short, family-friendly excursions to more extensive voyages that explore deeper waters and more secluded areas around the island.

Booking a tour is straightforward, with options available online or at kiosks along the waterfront.

It’s advisable to book in advance during peak season to secure your spot on this popular “thing to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

What You Can Expect to See

As the glass bottom boat glides over the kelp forests and rocky seabeds, you’ll be treated to a live show of Catalina’s marine biodiversity.

Vivid orange Garibaldi, California’s state marine fish, are a common sight, darting among the swaying kelp.

You might also spot schools of silverfish, playful sea lions, and, if you’re lucky, a passing dolphin pod.

The flora is equally captivating, with lush kelp forests creating an underwater landscape that’s both otherworldly and serene.

Guides on board provide insightful commentary on the marine life and the ecological efforts to preserve Catalina’s underwater habitats, enriching the experience further.

A glass bottom boat tour on Catalina Island not only offers a peek into the aquatic wonders of the Pacific but also highlights the island’s commitment to conservation and environmental education.

It’s a captivating way to spend part of your day and stands out as a memorable “thing to do in Santa Catalina Island,” appealing to all ages and interests.

Whether you’re marveling at the colorful fish, learning about underwater ecosystems, or simply enjoying the cool ocean breeze on your face, this experience is sure to leave a lasting impression.

3. Experience the Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour

Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour

For thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike, the Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour offers an exhilarating way to experience the island’s breathtaking landscapes from a unique vantage point.

This adventure is not only a testament to the island’s diverse offerings but also ranks high on the list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

As you soar above canyons and through treetops, the zip line experience combines the thrill of flight with an intimate encounter with the island’s natural beauty.

The Zip Line Experience

The Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour propels visitors across five separate zip lines, covering a total distance of nearly three-quarters of a mile at heights of up to 300 feet above the canyon floor.

Starting from the Hog’s Back gate, a high point in the island’s interior, participants glide at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour toward Descanso Beach.

Each zip line segment offers a new perspective on the island’s flora, fauna, and geology, with guides providing insights into the ecosystem and its conservation at each platform.

The experience is both adrenaline-pumping and educational, offering a perfect balance of excitement and learning.

Importance of Booking in Advance

Given its popularity, securing a spot on the Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour requires planning.

During peak tourist seasons, spots can fill up quickly, making advance booking a necessity to ensure you don’t miss out on this unparalleled adventure.

Booking ahead not only guarantees your place but also allows you to choose the most convenient time slot for your schedule.

Furthermore, it provides the opportunity to prepare for the experience, including checking weather conditions and dressing appropriately for the adventure.

Reservations can easily be made online through the official Catalina Island website or tour operators, making the process straightforward and accessible.

The Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour is a standout activity that appeals to a wide range of visitors, offering a memorable way to connect with nature and experience the island’s scenic beauty from an exhilarating perspective.

It highlights the adventurous spirit of Catalina Island and underscores why this destination continues to attract those seeking both adventure and natural wonder.

Whether you’re a zip lining novice or an experienced adrenaline junkie, this experience promises to be a highlight of your visit, marking a thrilling entry on your list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

4. Visit the Catalina Island Museum

Catalina Island Museum

Immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of Catalina Island’s past and present is effortlessly achieved with a visit to the Catalina Island Museum.

Situated in the heart of Avalon, this cultural institution stands as a guardian of the island’s history, art, and culture.

For those compiling their must-do list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” the museum offers a captivating journey through time, showcasing the island’s multifaceted story through a variety of mediums and narratives.

Overview of the Museum’s Collections

The Catalina Island Museum’s collections are as diverse as the island’s history itself.

Visitors can explore exhibits that span from the island’s natural and geological beginnings to its years as a Hollywood playground in the early 20th century.

The museum houses a comprehensive collection of Native American artifacts, providing insight into the island’s earliest inhabitants.

Additionally, the museum celebrates Catalina’s role in American pop culture, featuring memorabilia from the Big Band era and the golden days of Hollywood when the island served as a backdrop for numerous films.

Art exhibitions showcase works by local and regional artists, reflecting the island’s landscapes, seascapes, and vibrant community life.

Historical photographs, documents, and interactive displays weave together the stories of Catalina Island, offering visitors a deep and nuanced understanding of this unique locale.

Special Exhibitions or Events

The Catalina Island Museum is not just a static repository of artifacts; it’s a dynamic space that hosts special exhibitions and events throughout the year.

These limited-time exhibitions often focus on specific aspects of Catalina’s history, art, and culture, bringing fresh perspectives and new stories to light.

From retrospectives of notable artists connected to the island to exhibitions exploring significant historical events, these special showcases add an extra layer of discovery for visitors.

The museum also hosts various cultural events, including lectures, film screenings, and music performances, enriching the cultural tapestry of Catalina Island.

These events provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to engage with the island’s community and delve deeper into its cultural heritage.

A visit to the Catalina Island Museum is more than just a walk through history; it’s an immersive experience that connects visitors to the heart and soul of the island.

Whether you’re drawn to the natural beauty, the rich cultural heritage, or the intriguing tales of yesteryears, the museum offers a window into what makes Catalina Island truly special.

For those exploring “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” the museum stands as a testament to the island’s enduring appeal, inviting visitors to uncover the stories that have shaped this enchanting destination.

5. Snorkel or Dive in Lover’s Cove

Snorkel or Dive in Lover's Cove

For those enchanted by the call of the sea, snorkeling or diving in Lover’s Cove presents an unmissable opportunity to explore the underwater marvels of Catalina Island.

This protected marine preserve, located just a short distance from Avalon, is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, making it a top entry on the list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a first-time snorkeler, Lover’s Cove offers an immersive experience into the vibrant world beneath the waves.

Marine Life You Can Expect to See

Lover’s Cove is a haven for a wide variety of marine species, providing an up-close look at the rich biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean.

The calm, clear waters are ideal for spotting schools of bright orange Garibaldi, California’s state marine fish, which are not only beautiful but also curious and often approach swimmers.

The cove is also home to kelp bass, opaleye, and senorita fish, which weave through the kelp forests and rocky crevices.

For those with a keen eye, the sandy bottom and hidden nooks may reveal sea stars, sea cucumbers, and various species of rays.

The preservation efforts in the area ensure that this ecosystem remains vibrant and teeming with life, offering an unparalleled snorkeling or diving experience.

Rental Information for Gear

Embarking on a snorkeling or diving adventure in Lover’s Cove is made easy with readily available gear rentals in Avalon.

Several dive shops and outdoor adventure companies offer a range of options, from snorkels and fins to full scuba gear, catering to all levels of experience.

For those new to underwater explorations, guided snorkel and dive tours are also available, providing not only the necessary equipment but also expert insights into the marine life and ecosystem of Lover’s Cove.

It’s recommended to reserve your gear or tour in advance, especially during peak visitor seasons, to ensure you have everything you need for a seamless underwater adventure.

Snorkeling or diving in Lover’s Cove is not just an activity; it’s an adventure into a world of color, life, and natural beauty.

The cove’s protected status as a marine preserve means that its waters are as clear and vibrant as they are teeming with life, offering a peek into the underwater wonders that make Catalina Island a special place.

For visitors compiling their itinerary of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” a trip to Lover’s Cove is a must-do, promising an unforgettable experience that connects you to the majestic beauty of the ocean.

6. Hike the Trans-Catalina Trail

Hike the Trans-Catalina Trail

For those who revel in the great outdoors, tackling the Trans-Catalina Trail is a rewarding endeavor that showcases the island’s natural beauty and rugged landscapes.

Stretching across Catalina Island, this trail offers hikers an unforgettable journey through diverse terrains, breathtaking vistas, and unique wildlife habitats.

It’s a highlight for adventurers and nature lovers, marking a significant checkbox on the list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

Trail Length and Difficulty

The Trans-Catalina Trail spans approximately 38.5 miles from the east end of the island at Avalon to the west end at Starlight Beach.

The trail’s difficulty ranges from moderate to strenuous, making it suitable for experienced hikers.

It winds through rolling hills, steep climbs, and descents, presenting challenges even for seasoned trekkers.

The route takes you through a variety of landscapes, from coastal chaparral and grasslands to dense groves of eucalyptus.

Hikers should prepare for the journey with appropriate gear, plenty of water, and provisions.

Planning is crucial, as the trail can take several days to complete, with designated campgrounds along the way for overnight stays.

Key Sights Along the Trail

The Trans-Catalina Trail is dotted with remarkable sights that make the challenging hike worthwhile.

One of the most iconic landmarks is the Wrigley Memorial, which hikers encounter early on if starting from Avalon.

The memorial offers panoramic views of the island and serves as a tribute to the conservation efforts of William Wrigley Jr.

Further along the trail, hikers reach the Airport in the Sky, a unique airstrip situated at 1,602 feet above sea level, offering refreshments and a chance to rest.

The trail also provides opportunities to spot Catalina Island’s diverse wildlife, including the island fox, endemic to Catalina, and bison, which were brought to the island in the 1920s for filming purposes and now roam free.

Another highlight is the breathtaking view from the East End Overlook, where hikers can gaze upon vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean and the island’s rugged coastline.

Embarking on the Trans-Catalina Trail is an adventure that rewards hikers with not just physical challenges but also with the serene beauty and tranquility of Catalina Island’s natural landscapes.

This journey offers a unique way to experience the island, making it a quintessential activity for those searching for “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

Whether you’re a solo trekker or exploring with companions, the Trans-Catalina Trail promises an unforgettable experience that connects you deeply with the natural world.

7. Enjoy a Day at Descanso Beach Club

Descanso Beach Club

Nestled just beyond the bustling streets of Avalon, Descanso Beach Club offers a slice of paradise with its pristine sands, crystal-clear waters, and luxurious amenities.

This private beach club is a haven for those seeking relaxation and fun in the sun, making it an essential stop on any itinerary of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

Whether you’re looking to lounge in the sun with a cocktail in hand, partake in exciting water sports, or simply enjoy the stunning ocean views, Descanso Beach Club has something for everyone.

Amenities and Activities Available at the Beach Club

Descanso Beach Club is renowned for its exceptional services and facilities.

Visitors can relax on the beautiful beach or by the club’s terraced layout, which offers comfortable lounging options to soak up the California sun.

The club features a full-service bar and restaurant, where guests can indulge in delicious meals and specialty drinks while enjoying breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

For those seeking adventure, the beach club provides a variety of water sports and activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding, allowing guests to explore the vibrant marine life around Catalina Island.

Additionally, the club hosts live music and events, adding to the vibrant atmosphere and making every visit memorable.

Information on Cabana Rentals

For an elevated experience at Descanso Beach Club, consider renting a private cabana or chaise lounge.

The cabanas offer a luxurious retreat, complete with personalized service, comfortable seating, and privacy curtains, perfect for couples, families, or groups looking for an exclusive beach day experience.

Each cabana rental also includes amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi, a personal safe for valuables, and a dedicated server to cater to your needs throughout the day.

Advance reservations for cabanas are highly recommended, especially during peak season, to ensure availability.

Booking information and rental rates can be found on the Descanso Beach Club website or by contacting the club directly.

A day at Descanso Beach Club is the epitome of luxury and relaxation, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and upscale amenities.

Whether you’re lounging in a private cabana, sipping on signature cocktails, or diving into the cool ocean waters, the club provides an unparalleled beach experience on Catalina Island.

For visitors compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” a day at Descanso Beach Club promises relaxation, recreation, and memories that will last a lifetime.

8. Play Golf at the Catalina Island Golf Course

Catalina Island Golf Course

Golf enthusiasts and casual players alike will find a unique and historic experience awaiting them at the Catalina Island Golf Course, the oldest operating golf course west of the Mississippi.

Offering a blend of leisure and sport amidst the island’s natural beauty, playing a round of golf here is a timeless addition to any list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

With its rich history and picturesque setting, the golf course presents an opportunity to enjoy the game in a way that’s both challenging and deeply satisfying.

History of the Golf Course

The Catalina Island Golf Course boasts a storied past that dates back to its inception in the late 19th century.

Originally built as a three-hole course, it was expanded to nine holes in 1907 and later to a full 18 holes in 1929, under the direction of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr.

This historic course has seen the likes of famous personalities and golf legends walking its fairways, adding to the allure and prestige of playing here.

Over the years, the course has been meticulously maintained and updated, ensuring that it remains a true test of golf while preserving its historical charm.

Booking and Rental Information

Reserving a tee time at the Catalina Island Golf Course is straightforward, with options available to book online, over the phone, or in person at the pro shop.

The course is open to the public year-round, offering a variety of tee times throughout the day to accommodate golfers of all levels.

Rental equipment, including clubs and carts, is available on-site, making it easy for travelers who may not have brought their own gear.

Additionally, the course offers golf lessons for those looking to improve their game, taught by experienced professionals who can help fine-tune your swing or master the fundamentals.

Playing golf at the Catalina Island Golf Course is not just about the game; it’s about immersing yourself in the island’s history and enjoying the spectacular natural surroundings that make Catalina Island special.

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer looking to challenge yourself on a historic course or a beginner eager to enjoy a leisurely round in a stunning setting, the golf course welcomes all.

It stands as a testament to Catalina Island’s rich sporting heritage and is a must-do for visitors compiling their itinerary of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

9. Explore the Interior with a Jeep Tour

Catalina Island Jeep Tour

Venturing into the rugged interior of Catalina Island offers a glimpse into its untamed beauty and diverse ecosystems.

For those seeking an off-road adventure that immerses them in the island’s natural wonders, a jeep tour is an exhilarating option.

Catalina’s interior is a treasure trove of scenic vistas, hidden coves, and unique wildlife, making it an essential stop on any list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

With experienced guides leading the way, these tours provide an unforgettable exploration of Catalina’s hidden gems.

Companies Offering Jeep Tours

Several tour operators on Catalina Island specialize in jeep tours, providing visitors with expert guides and rugged vehicles for traversing the island’s interior terrain.

Among the most popular are Catalina Island Conservancy, which offers eco-friendly tours led by knowledgeable naturalists, and Catalina Adventure Tours, known for its customized excursions tailored to guests’ interests.

These tours range from leisurely drives along scenic routes to adrenaline-pumping adventures that tackle challenging off-road trails.

Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak seasons, to secure your spot on these sought-after tours.

Highlights of the Interior Tours

Exploring Catalina’s interior via jeep tour unveils a world of natural wonders and hidden treasures.

Wildlife enthusiasts will delight in the opportunity to spot the island’s endemic species, including the Catalina Island fox, which roams freely in its native habitat.

Keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead, bison grazing in grassy meadows, and the occasional island rattlesnake basking in the sun.

The interior tours also offer panoramic vistas of the island’s rugged coastline, with stops at scenic overlooks providing breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon.

Guides share fascinating insights into Catalina’s geology, ecology, and conservation efforts, enhancing the journey with their expertise and passion for the island.

Embarking on a jeep tour of Catalina’s interior is a thrilling adventure that promises unforgettable experiences and unparalleled views.

Whether you’re seeking wildlife encounters, stunning landscapes, or a deeper understanding of the island’s ecology, these tours offer something for everyone.

For visitors compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” exploring the island’s interior by jeep stands out as a must-do activity, providing an immersive and enriching experience that connects you to the heart of Catalina’s natural beauty.

10. Relax at Two Harbors

Catalina Island Two Harbors

Tucked away on the west end of Catalina Island lies the tranquil haven of Two Harbors, a secluded paradise that beckons travelers seeking serenity and natural beauty.

Surrounded by pristine beaches, rugged hillsides, and sparkling waters, Two Harbors offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Whether you’re looking to unwind on the sandy shores, explore the island’s marine life, or embark on outdoor adventures, Two Harbors has something for everyone, making it a must-visit destination on any itinerary of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

Description of Two Harbors

Two Harbors is a picturesque village nestled between two idyllic harbors—isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor—hence its name.

With its laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural surroundings, the village exudes a sense of tranquility that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Visitors can stroll along the waterfront promenade, admiring the sailboats bobbing in the harbor and taking in panoramic views of the rugged coastline.

The village boasts a handful of amenities, including a general store, beachside restaurants, and cozy accommodations, ensuring a comfortable and relaxing stay for visitors.

Recommended Activities

While relaxation is the name of the game at Two Harbors, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you entertained during your visit.

Kayaking is a popular pastime, allowing you to explore the pristine waters of the harbor at your own pace.

Paddle along the coastline, taking in the scenic beauty and perhaps spotting marine life such as dolphins, seals, and seabirds.

For those seeking a more immersive experience, camping under the stars is a must.

Two Harbors offers several campgrounds, including the popular Two Harbors Campground and Parsons Landing, where you can pitch a tent or rent a cozy cabin and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the ocean.

Spend your days hiking scenic trails, swimming in secluded coves, or simply lounging on the beach with a good book in hand.

Two Harbors epitomizes the laid-back charm and natural beauty of Catalina Island, offering a peaceful retreat for travelers seeking solace in nature.

Whether you’re looking to escape the crowds, reconnect with the great outdoors, or simply unwind in a stunning seaside setting, Two Harbors provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation.

For those compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” a visit to Two Harbors promises a memorable and restorative experience that will leave you refreshed and revitalized.

11. Take a Parasailing Adventure

Catalina Island Parasailing

For those seeking an adrenaline rush and breathtaking aerial views of Catalina Island, parasailing offers an exhilarating adventure unlike any other.

Suspended high above the shimmering waters of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll soar like a bird, taking in panoramic vistas of the island’s coastline and rugged interior.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply looking for a unique perspective on Catalina’s natural beauty, parasailing is a thrilling addition to any list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

Overview of Parasailing Experiences

Parasailing adventures typically begin from designated launch points along Avalon’s waterfront, where experienced operators provide safety briefings and assist you in gearing up for your flight.

Once strapped into a harness and securely attached to the parasail, you’ll take off from the back of a speedboat and ascend into the sky.

As you glide effortlessly above the ocean, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of Catalina Island’s iconic landmarks, including Avalon Harbor, Descanso Beach, and the rugged coastline stretching into the distance.

Depending on the tour operator and weather conditions, flights can last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, offering ample time to savor the adrenaline-pumping experience and capture unforgettable memories.

Safety and Booking Information

Safety is paramount when it comes to parasailing, and reputable tour operators prioritize stringent safety protocols to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience for participants.

Before booking your parasailing adventure, it’s essential to research operators with a proven track record of safety and customer satisfaction.

Look for companies that employ certified captains and use modern, well-maintained equipment.

Additionally, be sure to inquire about weight restrictions, age requirements, and any medical conditions that may impact your ability to parasail safely.

Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your preferred time slot and ensure availability.

Taking a parasailing adventure off the coast of Catalina Island is a thrilling way to experience the island’s beauty from a unique perspective.

Whether you’re flying solo, tandem, or with a group of friends, the feeling of soaring above the ocean is truly unforgettable.

As you glide through the air, the worries of the world below melt away, leaving you with nothing but the exhilaration of flight and the awe-inspiring views of Catalina’s scenic splendor.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush and a bird’s-eye view of paradise, parasailing is an absolute must-do activity on Catalina Island.

12. Indulge in Seafood Dining

Catalina Island Seafood Dining

No visit to Catalina Island is complete without savoring the fresh and flavorful seafood offerings that abound on the island.

From succulent lobster and savory shrimp to mouthwatering fish tacos, Catalina’s seafood dining scene is a culinary delight that promises to tantalize your taste buds.

Whether you’re craving a casual beachside meal or a fine dining experience with ocean views, there are plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from, making it an essential component of any list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.”

Recommendations for Seafood Restaurants

When it comes to seafood dining on Catalina Island, you’re spoiled for choice with an array of restaurants that specialize in serving up the ocean’s bounty.

One standout option is Bluewater Avalon, located right on the waterfront, offering a diverse menu featuring fresh catches of the day, seafood classics, and creative dishes that highlight Catalina’s culinary flair.

Another popular spot is The Lobster Trap, known for its relaxed atmosphere and delectable seafood dishes, including their signature lobster bisque and grilled swordfish.

For those seeking a more upscale dining experience, Avalon Grille offers a sophisticated ambiance and a menu showcasing locally sourced seafood, expertly prepared to highlight the natural flavors of the ingredients.

Must-Try Local Dishes

While exploring Catalina’s seafood dining scene, be sure to sample some of the island’s signature dishes that celebrate its maritime heritage.

One must-try dish is the Catalina Fish Taco, a local favorite that combines fresh fish, tangy salsa, crisp cabbage, and creamy sauce, all wrapped in a warm tortilla.

Another iconic dish is the Catalina Island Bouillabaisse, a hearty seafood stew featuring an assortment of local seafood simmered in a flavorful broth infused with aromatic herbs and spices.

And of course, no seafood dining experience on Catalina Island would be complete without indulging in a classic Lobster Roll, featuring succulent lobster meat piled high on a buttery toasted bun, served with a side of crispy fries or a refreshing salad.

Indulging in seafood dining on Catalina Island is not just about satisfying your appetite; it’s about celebrating the island’s rich maritime heritage and culinary traditions.

Whether you’re enjoying a casual meal with friends or treating yourself to a gourmet seafood feast, the flavors of the ocean are sure to leave a lasting impression.

For visitors compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” a seafood dining experience is a delicious and essential part of the island’s allure, offering a taste of Catalina’s coastal charm and culinary excellence.

13. Shop in Catalina’s Unique Boutiques

Catalina Island Shopping

Exploring the charming boutiques and shops of Catalina Island is a delightful way to discover one-of-a-kind treasures and souvenirs that capture the essence of the island’s culture and style.

From beach-inspired apparel and artisan crafts to locally made delicacies and unique gifts, Catalina’s shopping scene offers a diverse array of options to suit every taste and preference.

Whether you’re searching for the perfect memento of your island getaway or simply enjoy browsing through eclectic shops, shopping in Catalina’s boutiques is an essential part of any list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island.

Overview of Shopping Options

Avalon, Catalina Island’s main hub, is home to a charming selection of boutiques, art galleries, and specialty shops lining its quaint streets and waterfront promenade.

Here, you’ll find everything from trendy beachwear and handmade jewelry to gourmet chocolates and Catalina-themed memorabilia.

Stroll along Crescent Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Avalon, and explore the unique offerings of local shops, or venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems tucked away in the island’s alleys and side streets.

For those looking to escape the crowds, Two Harbors also boasts a few boutique shops offering a selection of souvenirs and essentials for visitors.

Highlight Unique Local Products

While shopping in Catalina’s boutiques, be sure to keep an eye out for unique local products that showcase the island’s distinctive charm and craftsmanship.

Look for Catalina Tile, a traditional art form that dates back to the 1920s and features colorful tiles adorned with intricate designs inspired by the island’s flora and fauna.

You’ll also find Catalina Island Taffy, a sweet treat beloved by locals and visitors alike, available in a variety of flavors ranging from classic to exotic.

Other popular souvenirs include Catalina pottery, hand-painted ornaments, and locally sourced honey and jams, each offering a taste of Catalina’s authentic island culture.

Shopping in Catalina’s unique boutiques is more than just a retail experience; it’s a journey of discovery and delight, where every shop tells a story and every purchase becomes a cherished memory of your island adventure.

Whether you’re seeking the perfect souvenir to commemorate your trip or simply enjoy browsing through eclectic shops, Catalina’s boutiques offer something for everyone.

For visitors compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” a leisurely afternoon of shopping is a must-do activity, providing a glimpse into the island’s vibrant culture and creativity.

14. Attend a Seasonal Event or Festival

Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival

Immersing yourself in the vibrant energy and cultural celebrations of Catalina Island’s seasonal events and festivals is a fantastic way to experience the island’s dynamic spirit and community camaraderie.

From music festivals and sporting events to food and wine tastings, Catalina’s calendar is filled with an array of exciting gatherings that cater to diverse interests and passions.

Attending a seasonal event or festival is not only a memorable addition to your list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island” but also offers a unique opportunity to connect with locals and fellow visitors alike.

Examples of Annual Events

Catalina Island hosts a variety of annual events and festivals throughout the year, each offering its own distinct flavor and entertainment.

One highlight is the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival, a world-class music event that takes place in the fall, featuring top jazz artists performing in intimate venues across the island.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Catalina Island Marathon, held in the spring, offers a scenic and challenging race course that winds through the island’s rugged terrain, providing stunning views and a sense of accomplishment for participants.

Other notable events include the Avalon Ball, a glamorous affair reminiscent of the island’s golden age of Hollywood, and the Taste Around of Avalon, a culinary extravaganza showcasing the island’s finest restaurants and chefs.

Tips for Planning Your Visit Around These Events

If you’re interested in attending a seasonal event or festival on Catalina Island, it’s essential to plan your visit in advance to ensure you can secure accommodations and tickets.

Many events, especially those with limited capacity or high demand, sell out quickly, so it’s advisable to book accommodations and purchase tickets as soon as they become available.

Additionally, consider the logistics of travel to and from the island, as transportation options may vary depending on the event’s dates and your preferred mode of travel.

Be sure to check the event’s official website for up-to-date information on schedules, ticket availability, and any special accommodations or requirements.

Attending a seasonal event or festival on Catalina Island offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant culture, music, and culinary delights.

Whether you’re a jazz enthusiast, a marathon runner, or a foodie looking to indulge in gourmet delights, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

For visitors compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” attending a seasonal event or festival promises an unforgettable experience filled with fun, excitement, and lasting memories.

15. Visit the Casino Point Dive Park

Casino Point Dive Park

Contrary to its name, the Casino Point Dive Park is not a gambling casino but rather a premier diving destination renowned for its spectacular underwater landscapes and vibrant marine life.

Located just steps from the iconic Catalina Casino in Avalon, this marine sanctuary offers divers of all skill levels the opportunity to explore an underwater paradise teeming with colorful fish, kelp forests, and fascinating dive sites.

A visit to the Casino Point Dive Park is an essential experience for anyone compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” offering a glimpse into the island’s rich underwater ecosystem.

Information on the Dive Park

Established in 1962, the Casino Point Dive Park was one of the first underwater parks in the United States and has since become a beloved destination for divers from around the world.

The park encompasses an area of approximately two acres and features a series of underwater attractions, including artificial reefs, sunken structures, and abundant marine life.

Entry to the dive park is conveniently located at the end of the Green Pleasure Pier, where divers can access the water via a designated staircase or directly from the shore.

Facilities at the park include restrooms, showers, and equipment rental shops, making it easy for divers to prepare for their underwater adventures.

What Makes It a Unique Diving Spot

What sets the Casino Point Dive Park apart from other dive sites is its accessibility, diversity of marine life, and underwater attractions.

The park’s relatively shallow depths (ranging from 15 to 90 feet) make it suitable for divers of all experience levels, from beginners to advanced.

Exploring the park’s underwater landscape reveals a kaleidoscope of colors, with vibrant marine species such as Garibaldi, bat rays, and horn sharks often spotted among the rocky reefs and kelp forests.

Additionally, the park is home to several artificial reefs and sunken objects, including a vintage underwater film set and a Catalina Safari boat wreck, which provide unique opportunities for exploration and underwater photography.

Visiting the Casino Point Dive Park offers divers a chance to immerse themselves in Catalina Island’s stunning underwater world and experience the thrill of diving in a protected marine sanctuary.

Whether you’re embarking on your first dive or seeking out new adventures beneath the waves, the park’s accessibility, diversity, and unique attractions make it a must-visit destination.

For divers compiling their list of “things to do in Santa Catalina Island,” exploring the Casino Point Dive Park promises an unforgettable underwater adventure that showcases the island’s natural beauty and biodiversity.


Catalina Island, with its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and diverse array of attractions, offers visitors a truly unforgettable experience that caters to every taste and interest.

From the bustling streets of Avalon to the rugged wilderness of the island’s interior, Catalina beckons adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and relaxation seekers alike to explore its wonders and create lasting memories.

Throughout this article, we’ve delved into just a fraction of the myriad activities and attractions that await on Santa Catalina Island.

Whether you’re admiring the Art Deco architecture of the Catalina Casino, embarking on a thrilling zip line adventure through the island’s rugged terrain, or basking in the serenity of Two Harbors’ secluded beaches, Catalina offers something for everyone.

things to do in santa catalina island

FAQ’s About Santa Catalina Island:

Why is Catalina Island so famous?

Catalina Island is famous for its stunning natural beauty, diverse outdoor recreational activities, and rich history.

Its close proximity to the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles makes it a popular destination for day trips and weekend getaways, offering visitors a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Additionally, Catalina’s iconic landmarks such as the Catalina Casino, picturesque Avalon Harbor, and rugged interior terrain have been featured in numerous films, TV shows, and advertisements, further enhancing its fame and allure.

Is it expensive to go to Catalina Island?

The cost of visiting Catalina Island can vary depending on factors such as transportation, accommodations, dining, and activities.

While some aspects of a Catalina getaway, such as ferry tickets and lodging, can be relatively pricey, there are also budget-friendly options available, such as camping and dining at casual eateries.

Planning ahead and researching deals or packages can help mitigate costs, and visitors can choose from a range of experiences to suit their budget.

How long is the ferry to Santa Catalina Island?

The ferry ride to Santa Catalina Island typically takes about an hour from mainland California ports such as Long Beach, San Pedro, or Dana Point.

However, travel time may vary depending on factors such as weather conditions and the specific ferry service provider.

Does anyone live on Santa Catalina Island?

Yes, Santa Catalina Island is home to a small but vibrant community of residents who live and work on the island year-round.

The majority of the population resides in the town of Avalon, while a smaller number of residents live in the village of Two Harbors.

In addition to permanent residents, Catalina Island sees an influx of seasonal workers and visitors throughout the year.

What famous people are on Catalina Island?

Catalina Island has attracted a variety of famous visitors over the years, including celebrities, politicians, and notable figures from the entertainment industry.

Some well-known individuals who have visited or spent time on Catalina Island include Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, John F. Kennedy, and Winston Churchill, among others.

What celebrities lived on Catalina Island?

While some celebrities have owned property or spent leisure time on Catalina Island, there are no widely known instances of celebrities permanently residing on the island.

Are there cars on Catalina Island?

Yes, there are cars on Catalina Island, but their numbers are limited due to the island’s small size and restricted access. Most residents and visitors navigate the island on foot, bicycle, golf cart, or taxi.

Private vehicles are allowed on the island, but they require a special permit, and restrictions may apply.

How much does a boat ride to Catalina cost?

The cost of a boat ride to Catalina Island varies depending on factors such as departure location, ferry service provider, and type of ticket (e.g., one-way or round-trip, general admission or upgraded seating).

Prices typically range from $70 to $100 or more per person for a round-trip ticket, with discounts available for children, seniors, and groups.

How many days do you need in Santa Catalina Island?

The ideal length of stay in Santa Catalina Island depends on individual preferences and interests.

While some visitors may opt for a day trip to explore Avalon’s attractions and enjoy outdoor activities, others may choose to spend several days or longer to fully immerse themselves in the island’s natural beauty and leisure opportunities.

A weekend getaway can provide a good balance of relaxation and adventure, while a week-long stay allows for more extensive exploration and participation in various activities.

Ultimately, the length of your stay will depend on your itinerary, budget, and personal preferences.

catalina island

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

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