Attention, ocean lovers, adrenaline junkies and fun seekers everywhere! A bounty of adventure awaits you on Catalina Island. Catalina lies approximately 29 miles from Long Beach Harbor, or an hour boat ride from Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport or Dana Point Harbor. The glorious Mediterranean climate and abundance of activities attract more than 1 million tourists annually. Catalina Island Conservancy manages most of the land, protecting its natural beauty for generations to come.
However, beauty is only part of Catalina’s draw. Outdoor activities for all fitness levels and points of interest make this island a must-see. So, whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or historic movie film sites, check the following list to find your perfect activity.
10 Don’t Miss Island Adventures
1. Ridgetop Adventure
Explore the topography and wildlife in an open-air, bio-fueled Hummer on Ridgetop adventure. You’ll ascend 1,500 feet while your driver-guide tells you about the area. The view delivers the best ocean and canyon views. Best of all, 10% of ticket sales go to the Catalina Island Conservancy.
I love hiking, and Catalina’s 165 miles of hiking trails offer a variety of ocean and canyon hiking experiences, including easy, moderate or strenuous workouts. Of course, those looking for a strenuous, multi-day challenge will come for the Trans-Catalina trail. The Trans-Catalina trail traverses the entire island. It is 38.5 miles. While each trail offers gorgeous natural scenery, some offer little shade. So, speak to a guide, do your research and come prepared. Hikers must obtain a free hiking permit from the Catalina Island Conservancy.
If you like to Mountain bike, you’ll love the rugged, unpaved roads and steep hills of Two Harbors. Bikes are available for rent and guests must obtain a biking permit from the Island Conservancy. The weather might be very warm, so prepare for a good workout
For a super island adventure, parasail 600 – 800 feet over the Pacific. Take in Avalon and the beauty of nature while flying through the air. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR THOSE WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS.
The rocky shore looks even more beautiful passing by in your own kayak. So, rent one and take a guided tour.
Thrill seekers looking for an extreme island adventure will get their fill of adrenaline with on a Zip-line over Descanso Canyon. Travel over 5 different lines at speeds of almost 40 MPH. In addition, as you stop at each line, guides will teach a bit about Catalina. This activity is not advised for visitors with various medical conditions.
There are several opportunities for camping on the island.
- Two Harbors – Tent camping and tent cabins available for an ocean-view experience.
- Parsons’ Landing – This site offers no running water or shelter. To get to the site, located West of Two Harbors, guests must take a moderate hike. Roughing it Catalina-style.
- Little Harbor – Great for frolicking in the sand and water. Located just east of 2 harbors. Awarded “One of the Best Campgrounds in the West” by Sunset Magazine.
- Black Jack – Located near Mount Oribaza, Catalina’s highest point, this camp site offers terrain to ocean views.
- Hermit Gulch – Avalon’s only campsite. Great site for hikers. Plenty of trails nearby.
8. Scuba Diving/Snorkeling Island Activities
View underwater sea life up close with Scuba diving or snorkeling. Due to plenteous kelp, girabaldi abound! In addition, look for black sea bass and even lobsters. To see these and more, check out Casino Point, Blue Cavern Point, and Farnsworth.
For a golfing adventure, try Catalina Island Golf Course, the oldest course in the Golden State. Since its located on an island, one can play nine holes with an ocean view. The Course welcomes players of of every skill level.
10. Experience Catalina Falconry
If you are interested in falconry try to imagine a trained falcon gently landing on your gloved arm! Here you can learn the basics from our talented staff while you get to know the animals. Once you are ready, the adventure begins. Then when you are finished, bring a photo home with share with friends.
For a cerebral Island adventure, visit these:
Catalina Island Casino
No gambling takes place at Catalina Island Casino. It houses the Avalon Theatre, along with Art Deco walls and a pipe organ from 1929. Guests can watch a short documentary of this establishment and its Hollywood connection. Then, guests are welcome to explore the historical ballroom, used to host some of the World’s best Big Bands and musicians.
Catalina Island Museum
This museum was established to preserve the island’s heritage and provide information on its history. As a result, Catalina Island Museum, is a wonderful collection of artifacts, including one of the largest collections of the Tongva, the Channel Island’s indigenous people. In addition, the museum has collected more than 10,000 photographs of Catalina from as early as 1880. Since its inception, the museum has educated thousands on the unique island.
Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens
The Wrigley Memorial was built in 1933 as a standing ovation to William Wrigley, Jr., founder of Wrigley gum and Catalina community leader. Because of his great love for the island, Wrigley worked to improve the public utilities, beautify the landscape, create new steamships and a hotel. The Memorial overlooks Avalon Bay.
So, fill your vacation to Catalina with adventures by choosing some of the options we’ve listed here. When you return, let us know what you think!