Santa Catalina—widely known as just Catalina—is a beautiful Southern California island just off the coast of Los Angeles. With rocky terrain, blue waters, and Mediterranean flair, it’s an idyllic escape from the City of Angels, and hard to believe that it’s only a 1-hour ferry ride away. Catalina’s only small town, Avalon, is home to boutique shopping, oceanfront dining, and harbor views. There are plenty of chances to get in or on the island’s stunning waters as well—if you can drag yourself of off the beach.
Visitors seeking a whole Catalina-from-mainland package can take a full-day guided tour from Anaheim or Los Angeles, while independent travelers coming from LA can simply book ferry tickets online. Once you’re on Catalina, an Avalon scenic tour is the perfect introduction to the island. Food tours offer a delicious way to discover the unique eats and culinary culture of Catalina. If you’d like a peek at the underwater world but aren’t keen on getting wet, check out a glass-bottom boat tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Catalina Island is a must-see for beach-goers, outdoor enthusiasts, and families.
- Catalina is an easy day trip from LA or Anaheim, though staying overnight offers a bit more solitude once the day-trippers leave.
- Be sure to bring a camera and sunscreen, plus sturdy shoes if you plan to do some hiking.
How to Get There
Ferries shuttle visitors to Catalina Island’s Avalon Harbor in just over an hour from Long Beach, Dana Point, San Pedro, or Newport Beach. Be sure to check out the coastal views as you leave port. If you’re day-tripping, be aware of the last ferry departure times. Segway and golf cart rentals or walking are the most common ways to get around the island.
When to Get There
Catalina enjoys Southern California sunshine year-round. Crowds are more likely during summer, with expanded ferry service through September. Winter months are typically less busy, though the climate is cooler.
Catalina for Adventurers
While it’s tempting to simply lounge on the island’s beaches, there is an array of outdoor activities for those seeking adventure. Snorkeling, biking, golfing, Segway tours, scuba diving, kayaking, camping, hiking, and parasailing are just some of the options readily available on Catalina. There is also a zipline eco tour in the hills behind Avalon.