Whether you’re coming for the day, weekend or longer, Catalina Island is a great place to escape for the day or the weekend. Getting there is an adventure all its own with a ferry or helicopter ride across beautiful southern California waters.

From shopping to thrilling adventures on a zip line or paddle board, Catalina Island is brimming with activities and things to do. Unwind at the end of the day with a meal at one of the many restaurants. We have gathered all of the info you need on the Island and activities to try on your visit.

Catalina Island was purchased in 1887 by George Shatto, a real estate developer. He was the first to ambitiously pursue the task of turning Catalina Island into a resort destination and he was right! He developed Avalon as a resort island destination.

The island also served as a location for the early days of Hollywood movies. One of the movies filmed in the 1920’s (The Vanishing American) brought 14 bison to the island and left them there. Today there are about 150 bison in the island’s interior which is one of the many attractions.

It takes only one hour via a high-speed ferry to get you to the Island and two companies offer boat transportation from the Southern California cities of Long Beach, San Pedro, Dana Point, and Newport Beach to both Avalon and Two Harbors.

There is also an option to take a helicopter from Long Beach to Catalina with a 15 minute flight time.

Avalon is located around the stunning Avalon Bay on the southeast end of the island. 

A popular, charming, and historic destination for over a century, Avalon offers numerous hotels, restaurants, beaches, spa experiences, land & ocean adventures, a golf course, and a host of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy.

One of the first things you can do when you arrive is a walk through the scenic walkway on Crescent Ave, the main street or Front Street as locals call it, that holds these architectural elements like the Serpentine Wall and Wrigley Fountain adorned with authentic Catalina tile that you can’t miss.

You will also find many of the town’s beaches, shops, and restaurants along the Ave.

Two Harbors is Catalina’s other side, located at the west end and around 22 miles from the Southern California mainland.

To visit from the mainland, guests arrive via high-speed ferry from San Pedro, although many come on private boats.

Two harbors offers numerous annual and super fun events, almost every month of the year.

Zip Line Eco tour

Land Tours

There are plenty of options if this is what you are looking for. There is a Zip Line Eco tour around Catalina Island, Ridgetop Eco Adventure Tour, Discover Avalon, Journey to the sky, Bison Expedition, Catalina Aerial Adventure, Catalina Falconry Experience, and many hiking and walking trail options.

Ocean Tours

If you are looking to connect with the ocean and want to do participate in water activities, you should check out Two Harbors Undersea Sub Expedition, the Glass Bottom Boat, the Flying Fish Voyage, fishing, and scuba.

Exclusive Tours

There are also guided private tour experiences if you prefer some family private time or with friends.

Descanso Beach Club

Descanso Beach Club is one of the last private beaches in California open to the public, and home to Catalina’s only beachside restaurant and bar.  It’s also one of the few places where you can legally have a drink in your hand and your feet in the sand at the same time!

There are options to rent a chaise or a cabana to kick back and enjoy the sun. They open at 11am and close at around 4pm. Live DJs play at Descanso Beach Club every Saturday during the summer.

Island Spa Catalina

Located inside Avalon’s historic El Encanto building, spa amenities include seven treatment rooms plus a couple’s suite, luxurious lounges, Jacuzzi, a soaking pool, a dry sauna, a eucalyptus steam room, and expansive relaxation deck with amazing ocean views. Day passes are available on a first come, first served basis. 


Catalina Island is an outdoor lover’s paradise and there’s no better way to experience this beautiful island than to be at one with the natural surroundings on a camping getaway. Camping is only permitted in five designated campgrounds along the Trans-Catalina Trail: Hermit Gulch, Black Jack, Little Harbor, Two Harbors, and Parson’s Landing. All campgrounds have potable water, except for Parson’s Landing.

Catalina Casino Tours

Step back in time on this 45-minute narrated walking tour of Catalina’s most well-known landmark. 

Above the theatre, the Casino’s world-famous ballroom once hosted thousands of dancers grooving to the sounds of big band music. Be sure to step out on the Romance Promenade that encircles the ballroom for some of the most spectacular views of Avalon.


A great example of Catalina’s charm and history can be found at Catalina Island Country Club and Golf Course, the oldest operating course west of the Mississippi and the former home of the Bobby Jones Invitational Tournament. 

Originally built in 1892 as a three-hole course, this scenic, 2,100-yard course now offers nine challenging holes, with two sets of tees for 18-hole play. The full Pro Shop rents clubs, and electric and pull carts.

The course was expanded to 9 holes in the early 1900s, and to an 18-hole tournament-level course in 1929. After World War II in 1945, the course was brought back to its current 9-hole layout, featuring five Par 4s and four Par 3s.  

Catalina Island Conservancy Trailhead

The Conservancy is a leader in conservation programs that protect and restore endangered species and threatened habitats. It protects 88 percent of Catalina Island, including more than 62 miles of unspoiled beaches and secluded coves.

Here you will learn about the history of the island and of course, and see the Bison.

With Catalina Island Conservancy Trailhead, you can access places that aren’t accessible on other tours.

Catalina Island is such a gem and a great option for an easily accessible mini getaway if you’re visiting San Diego. Be sure to check out all of Haustay’s vacation rentals within close proximity to the ferries to Catalina!

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