Catalina Island California aerial panoramic view | By acuellaralfaro | Shutterstock

One of the Golden State’s Channel Islands, Santa Catalina, lies 48 miles southwest of Los Angeles. It’s known for its wildlife, dive sites, and Mt. Orizaba, its highest peak.

Whether you’re seeking the next adrenaline rush, embarking on the next excursion, or indulging in a relaxing spa day, Catalina Island is your best destination.

Catalina has something for everyone.

The island consists of two parts; while you’ll find most of the action in Avalon (the main port town), you should consider making a stop at the small community of Two Harbors.

Everything on the island is within reach via a short walk, golf cart, taxi ride, or shore boat. 

Some things to do in Catalina Island include golf, hiking, biking, art & museums, ziplining, and water activities, including fishing, scuba diving, jet ski rentals, parasailing, and kayaking, paddle boarding, and more.

You’ll be assured a memorable escape with our list of 20 things to do in Catalina Island, California, which is why you need to add it to your bucket list.

20 things to do in Catalina Island

1. Avalon’s Downtown

Catalina Island, California By visitcalifornia.com

Rating: 4.5  

The only incorporated town on Catalina, Avalon wraps around the stunning Avalon Bay at the southeast end of the island.

The city of Avalon has been a popular tourist destination for over a century.

  • Why you should go:

Crescent Ave. is the main street in Avalon Bay.

Known as Front Street by the locals, this scenic walkway features architectural elements like the Serpentine Wall and Wrigley Fountain decorated with authentic Catalina tile.

Crescent Avenue has most of the town’s beaches, shops, and restaurants.

  • Things to do:

Check out the Green Pleasure Pier, where you can find the island’s visitor’s center, as well as several tour operators, water activities, and diving companies. 

Stroll down Downtown around sunset time, where the views are so pretty, and try delicious food on your way.  

2. Luau Larry’s

The sign for Luau Larry’s Food Spirits | By Mary at T-Comms | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.4  

Location: 509 Crescent Avenue, Avalon.

Luau Larry’s is a Polynesian-themed bar with a Hawaiian menu, famous for its burgers and perfectly crisp and seasoned curly fries.

  • Why you should go:

Luau Larry’s has always been a tourist favorite destination for more than 30 years, for its bustling tropical vibes, unmatched harbor views, mouthwatering menu, and the fact that you’ll often find live music singalongs at night.

  • Things to do:

The first bar you’ll see on your left side as you start your walk on the main street is Luau Larry’s. Go in with a huge appetite and get the famous massive, strawed extravaganza hat that’s a must-have souvenir from Catalina Island; you’ll see people wearing it all over as you walk through Avalon.

3. Catalina Island Casino & Theater

Aerial view of Catalina Casino and Avalon harbor with sailboats | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.6  

Location: 1 Casino Way, Avalon.

Representing the style and romance of Catalina Island, the Casino has performed host to a world-class theater production, a wealth of entertainers, and first-run motion pictures.

The Casino still features first-run movies each night at 7:30 pm withinside the authentic film theater.

  • Why you should go:

Visitors can go on walking behind the scenes Casino tour to explore the rich history of the casino, which is offered daily, and enjoy one of the many events held throughout the year, including the Catalina Island Jazz Festival and the annual New Year’s Eve Celebration.

  • Things to do:

Another one of the more authentic things to do in Catalina is visiting the Avalon Theatre, nestled beneath the Casino Ballroom.

Move back in time as you enter the wonderfully preserved theater with the 1920s era seats decorated in a lively style with ancient Roman-inspired tiled panels and original art deco murals, and twinkling star lights on the ceiling. 

4. The Catalina Museum for Art & History

The Catalina Museum for Art & History | Facebook

Rating: 4.5  

Location: 217 Metropole Ave, Avalon. 

The entry fees: $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, military, healthcare workers, and students, children can enter for free.

Visit this thoughtfully designed museum that explores the island’s fascinating history.

Catalina Island Museum has been around for over 60 years, offering more than 7,000 decades of Catalina history indoors.

  • Why you should go:

In 1953, the Catalina Island Museum was established to collect and preserve Catalina Island’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The Catalina Island Museum showcases thousands of years of history through a wealth of exciting and visually exciting artifacts from the Native American civilization and local Artwork.

It also displays that feature a mix of Spanish mission architecture and Art Deco influence. 

  • Things to do:

Browse through the exhibits and displays representing Catalina’s beginnings and learn about the events that formed the island into the tourist hub. 

The Museum also hosts a variety of workshops, lectures, and events for visitors to learn and understand the unique history of the charming island.

A small gift shop sells a variety of souvenirs for visitors to take a piece of Santa Catalina home with them.

5. Catalina Island Golf Cart Rentals

By sportspring.blogspot.com

Rating: 4 ★

Location: 125 Pebbly Beach Rd, Avalon.

The entry fees: a four-passenger cart is $55 for the first hour, pay for 2 hours to get the 3rd hour for free.

Renting a golf cart is the best way to explore a large percentage of Avalon’s gorgeous sites. 

  • Why you should go:

In two hours, you can get over the top of Avalon, where charming views, historic structures, and some of the island’s more sites are waiting to be found.

  • Things to do:

Catalina Island Golf Cart Rentals have a pre-planned 12-mile scenic route through Avalon’s beautiful hills and lovely sites.

6. The Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens

Rating: 4.5  

Location: 1400 Avalon Cyn Rd, Avalon.

The entry fees: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and veterans, $4 for students and children (ages 5-12), and free for active military and children under 5.

This garden and memorial are some of the most beautiful spots in Avalon, it’s just about a 30-minute hike from the beach, but you can also thereby rent a bike or via golf cart. 

  • Why you should go:

The gardens are spread across 38 acres of landscapes and focus on endemic plant species from the Channel Islands off California, many on the Endangered Species List.

There’s also a great view from the tower overlook, a structure built from quarried rocks culled from the island itself.

  • Things to do:

Stroll through the garden’s out-of-this-world surprises, from unique wilderness plants and bridges to the quarried stones and hand-crafted tiles on the memorial.

The gardens are also home to the Wrigley Memorial. This incredible island landmark was built in 1934 in honor of William Wrigley Jr, Catalina’s Island patron.

The amazing structure embraces a variety of native rock and stone, as well as the famed “Catalina tile.”

7. Descanso Beach Club

Descanso Beach Club Catalina Island | Shutterstock | By bonandbon

Rating: 4.5  

Location: 1 St Catherine Way, Avalon.

The entry fees: Book your tickets online. Descanso Beach Club offers restrooms, outdoor showers, dressing rooms, chaise lounge rentals, and personalized food and beverage service.

While visiting Catalina Island, you can visit Avalon’s main beaches alongside Crescent Avenue for free, but there’s also the fancy Descanso Beach Club with private cabanas, signature food, and more.

  • Why you should go:

If you’re looking for an exceptional location to sunbathe and loosen up on the beach, Descanso Beach Club is for you! Bring a towel and catch a spot on the sand or rent a private cabana or chaise lounge with an umbrella for shade and other perks from the Descanso Beach Club.

  • Things to do:

There are also rentable snorkel sets, paddleboards, and kayaks.

Are you visiting over the summer? Make sure to stop by for the weekends when the club brings in DJs and live music bands.

8. Zip Line Eco Tour

Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour | By OBP

Rating: 4.9  

Location: Descanso Beach Club, 1 St Catherine Way, Avalon. 

The entry fees: $138.72 for ages 10+.

Weight Limit: 80-240lbs.

Get prepared for two hours of adrenaline-fueled fun on TripAdvisor’s top-rated Catalina Island adventure. Catalina’s Zip Line Eco Tour is a bucket-list-worthy zip line experience that whisks you down 600 feet.

  • Why you should go:

After a short safety session, you will gear up and climb aboard a shuttle to be able to take you to the ridge top 600 ft above Descanso Beach Club.

From there, you will experience sweeping ocean views as you zigzag down and throughout the canyon and through a grove of eucalyptus trees.

Along with the way, your trained guides will share thrilling facts about the island’s flora and fauna, which incorporates more than 60 species found only on Catalina Island.

  • Things to do:

Enjoy incredible views of the Pacific and the luxurious foliage of Catalina Island and prepare an urge for food for the tour’s finale at Descanso Beach Club’s bar and resto.

9. Catalina Aerial Adventure

Aerial Footage of California Tropical Island |
By JDelhauer | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.9  

Location: Descanso Beach Club, 1 St Catherine Way, Avalon. 

The entry fees: $65.18 for ages 7+.

Weight Limit: 50-270lbs.

Get ready to enjoy a unique and alluring outdoor experience at Descanso Beach Club, in southern California’s favorite island. 

  • Why you should go:

Catalina Aerial Adventure gives nature enthusiasts a stimulating experience through five self-guided, self-paced obstacle courses throughout various difficulty levels.

  • Things to do:

During this experience, you can climb, crawl and swing through log bridges, rope ladders, zip lines, balance beams, and other elements. 

Catalina Aerial Adventure’s challenges are arranged in three different configurations offering aerial excitement for everyone, regardless of athletic ability or skills.

10. Golf Gardens Mini Golf

By visitcatalinaisland.com

Rating: 4.8  

Location: 10 Island Plz, Avalon.

The entry fees: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and children from 2 to 11.

Avalon’s Golf Gardens is the ideal spot for an afternoon family-friendly activity, nestled in a beautiful garden less than one block away from the beach.

This unique 18-hole course has been a much-loved fixture on the island for nearly 50 years.

  • Why you should go:

It is internationally known as one of the world’s most challenging and beautiful mini-golf courses: no fancy electronics, just a good old-fashioned challenging & fun layout. , This is your best destination if you are looking for things to do in Catalina Island with kids.

  • Things to do:

Schedule a round of golf in a charming setting with your family. Afterward, you can walk the block for some beach activities.

11. Nature Center at Avalon Canyon

Nature Center at Avalon Canyon, Catalina Island, a lot of activates to choose from | By mcwdesignstudio.com

Rating: 4.5  

Location: 1202 Avalon Cyn Rd, Avalon.

The entry fees: Free admission.

  • A great way to learn about the Island.

The Nature Center is one of the nature centers established by the Catalina Island Conservancy to help restore and protect the natural fauna and flora of the Island.

  • Why you should go:

The Nature Center features a plethora of informative exhibits and displays that target the natural history and conservation efforts on the Island.

  • Things to do:

A Resource Center is available for teachers and students, and there are plenty of interactive, hands-on activities for all ages to explore.

Graphic exhibits include photographs of the wild, scenic side of the Island, including rugged landscapes and secluded coves with crystal waters, and pictures of its animals, plants, geology, and marine life.

12. Catalina Island Conservancy

Catalina Island Conservancy sign, Santa Catalina Island | Shutterstock

Rating: 5  

Location: 708 Crescent Ave., Avalon.

Founded in 1972, the Catalina Island Conservancy is a nonprofit organization and one of the oldest land trusts in Southern California. 

The Conservancy protects 88% of Catalina Island, including more than 62 miles of beaches and secluded coves. 

  • Why you should go:

Home to a wealth of native animals, plants, and insects, some found nowhere else in the world, Catalina Island’s protected regions boast rugged landscapes, pristine beaches, and nature centers, all woven through nature trails.

  • Things to do:

If you’re looking for free things to do in Catalina Island, begin your adventure at Catalina Island Conservancy, where there’s a wide range of outdoor activities for you. 

You can hike on the most popular trail, the Garden to Sky Hike that starts at the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, go camping, bike the wildlands, or take an ECO tour.

13. The Eco Tour Adventure

The Eco Tour Adventure Catalina island | visitcatalinaisland.com

Rating: 4.7  

Location: Catalina Island Conservancy.

The entry fees: $84.95 for adults and $80.95 for seniors, children (5-11), veterans, and active military

There’s not anything like a thrilling adventure through Catalina’s pristine wilderness aboard an open-air biofuel Hummer.

You’ll get an intimate sense of Catalina’s unique topography as you cruise for two hours the ridge around different rugged canyons.

  • Why you should go:

Eco Adventure is an amazing introduction to Catalina Island’s unique topography, treating you to bird’s-eye perspectives of the island and the sparkling Pacific as you journey through five miles of eucalyptus-covered roads

  • Things to do:

On this tour, you’ll also travel along Divide Road, where you’ll enjoy spectacular ocean and canyon views of both sides of the island.

During this experience, you will get to know Catalina through the information from your diver guide and the beautiful scenery.

You might also spot a bison on this unforgettable adventure.

Catalina’s American bison, sometimes called buffalo, are descendants of a small herd left on the island by a movie crew in the 1920s.

Today the Catalina Island Conservancy maintains Catalina’s American bison herd at about 150 to protect the bison and the island’s landscape.

14. Trans-Catalina Trail

Group of friends at Trans-Catalina Trail | Facebook

Rating: 4.5  

Location: It starts at the Conservancy Trailhead in Avalon and ends in the west end village of Two Harbors.

The Trans-Catalina Trail stretches 37.2 miles from Avalon to the West End village of Two Harbours.

The trail goes up hills and down valleys offering spectacular views across the 43,000-acre Nature Preserve of the Catalina Island Conservancy.

  • Why you should go:

This is a long, strenuous trek across the entirety of Catalina Island. But the views are amazing. Enjoy the beautiful blue ocean views in every direction in the morning and incredible solitude, serenity, and interior island views in the afternoon. 

  • Things to do:

This trail is ideal for a long weekend backpack getaway.

Most backpackers do this over four days. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash.

15. Rumble and Trek Hiking & Hummer Adventure

Rumble, Trek Hiking & Hummer Adventure | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.5  

Location: Avalon.

The entry fees: $99 per person.

The Rumble and Trek Hiking & Hummer tour combines two of the island’s most popular activities into one exhilarating outdoor adventure that is a fantastic way to experience Catalina Island like never before.

  • Why you should go:

The Rumble & Trek tour begins aboard a biofuel Hummer, fueled by clean-burning recycled oil, for a thrilling ride through the hills and a spectacular view from Catalina’s Airport in the Sky.

From there, participants go on a guided hike for 2.2 miles with a naturalist on the Airport Loop Trail, highlighted by gorgeous sights of El Rancho Escondido and Buffalo Springs.

  • Things to do:

Jump on a road trip and incredible hike with Rumble & Trek and fully enjoy the charm of Catalina Island. Make sure your cameras are up and running for this overdose of remarkable views!

16. Parasail Catalina

Parasail Catalina Island | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.3  

Location: 105 Pebbly Beach Rd, Avalon.

The entry fees: $79.00 per person.

Allow Parasail Catalina to take you to new heights. They offer 800ft flights to take you flying above Avalon harbor.

  • Why you should go:

If you’re looking for the ultimate view overlooking Catalina Island, it’s definitely from the air! For a bit of adrenaline rush, experience a parasailing adventure that will take you out over Avalon Bay.

  • Things to do:

Explore Avalon from above! Enjoy this breathtaking adventure with incredible views overlooking Catalina Island’s main town and pay extra fees for a photo package to get this moment documented!

17. Diving Catalina

Catalina Island Scuba Diving | By Michael Bogner | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.3  

Location: Casino Point Dive Park.

The entry fees: $80 for the scuba rental package and $59.00 per person for the traditional snorkeling tour.

If you love the ocean and are fascinated by all the life that lives just beneath the waves, we have got a fantastic adventure for you where you can spend time immersed in the beautiful blue waters off the coast of Catalina Island.

​Diving Catalina provides safe and educational snorkel and scuba diving activities for the whole family.​

  • Why you should go:

Diving Catalina offers Power Snorkeling Tours, Traditional Snorkeling Tours, and Night Snorkeling Tours.  Snorkeling is easy and fun and allows you to explore the beautiful water teeming with sea life.  Young or old, snorkeling is for everyone with a passion for exploring the sea.  

Located next to the Casino Building, the Underwater Dive Park is a marine sanctuary and a snorkeler’s paradise with crystal clear waters, fantastic undersea gardens and coral reefs, and myriad fish and invertebrates provide a number of the best shore.

  • Things to do:

If you’re into scuba diving, then you’re in for an amazing experience at Catalina.

Announced as the “World’s Healthiest Marine Environment” by Scuba Diving Magazine, you see it yourself.

If you’re not into scuba diving but still want to enjoy water sports, take advantage of the snorkeling from Catalina Island in the turquoise waters and swim with the iconic orange Garibaldi fish. 

18. Catalina Boat Tours

By Darryl Brooks | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.7  

There are a ton of various boat tours provided on the island: book yourself a glass-bottom boat tour, where you’ll take a look at out all varieties of sea creatures, which include the iconic Garibaldi, the protected California state fish that looks like a giant goldfish. 

If you’re there during the summer months, you need to take a trip on the Flying Fish voyage, a nighttime tour in which fish fly out of the water for 30-foot sprints. 

If you’d instead be mammal-hunting, take a daylight journey on the Sea Life Safari to watch for dolphins and seals.

  • Why you should go:

If diving is not your thing, the Boat Tours are the more accessible option for you to enjoy one of the world’s healthiest marine environments.

  • Things to do:

Gape through the wonders of another world right underneath your feet as you cruise through a kelp forest with kelp bass, leopard sharks, Garibaldi, bat rays, moray eels, and a lot more.

Or experience the unique California feeling when the wind and sun are on your face while riding a high-speed boat and watch sea lions, dolphins, and flying fish around you!

19. Silver Canyon Pottery

Silver Canyon Pottery, Catalina Island | Facebook

Rating: 4.9  

Location: 22 Pebbly Beach Rd, Avalon.

  • Fun and creative hands-on experience.
  • Unique souvenirs.

The Catalina Tile Experience gives visitors an authentic possibility to share part of island culture. Silver Canyon Pottery, operating since 1988, is the genesis for the experience.

  • Why you should go:

Silver Canyon Pottery gives an intimate glimpse into tile manufacturing on Catalina Island.

Small, all-inclusive tours, personally led by the artist, educate visitors about the history, geology, inventive traditions, and techniques that created the ancient tiles that outline Catalina.

  • Things to do:

Most fun of all, visitors put on an apron, roll up their sleeves and create their tile! Great family activity. Create your very own souvenir Catalina tile and discover the mini-museum on the pottery studio.

20. Two Harbors

Rating: 4  

Locations: The Catalina Island Company’s Cyclone powerboat is the fastest way to travel between Avalon and Two Harbors, making the trip in about 40 minutes.

Named after the two harbors withinside the town, Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor, Two Harbors is a rustic seaside village located on the isthmus of Catalina Island.

  • Why you should go:

Two Harbors gives a wealth of comfortable accommodations, starting from one tiny resort with simply twelve rooms, cottages, tents, and campgrounds, in addition to a variety of restaurants, cafés, and pubs.

Visitors can experience a lot of leisure activities, such as kayaking, paddleboards, snorkeling, and scuba diving in the stunning waters across the island, in addition to hiking, mountain biking, and camping.

  • Things to do:

Immerse yourself in Catalina’s fabulous outdoors and refuel on the restaurants with burgers which might be worth the whole trip when you go back to town.

If you’re visiting at the end of September, don’t pass over the chance to join Catalina’s pirate party!

Two Harbors is an ideal spot for hiking and relaxing and a worthwhile day trip for a change of scenery.

Written by OBP

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