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Top 5 Catalina Island Camping Grounds For an Exciting Experience

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Heya! It’s Sam.

So, months ago I was on a flight to Tokyo, Japan. A young man came and sat next to me.

As usual, I’m reading a book. My hope is to be done by the time we land. The young man expresses interest in the book I’m reading. The book was ‘Smile When You’re Lying’, by Chuck Thompson. Humorous book.

He says he’s been fruitlessly looking for a copy of the book and asks if he can borrow my copy. He’ll ship it to me when he’s done. I think about it and surprise myself by saying yes. I never give out my books.

I’m done reading the book by the time we land and so I keep my promise. Fast forward, 6 months later, I received a package. Guess what’s inside, my book and a few other copies of books I’ve been wanting to read, plus a camping invitation. A fully paid camping trip to Catalina Island.

And that’s how I ended up on this camping trip. It all started with giving my book to a stranger on a flight.

Catalina Island, also known as Santa Catalina, is one of the Channel Islands in California. 

The island is famous for its beautiful beaches featuring clear crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches.

Catalina Island is also a renowned camping destination, with some of the most beautiful camping sites. There are only five permitted campgrounds on the island. 

List of Top 5 Catalina Island Camping:

1. Little Harbor Campground

Hikers descend into Little Harbor Campground on Catalina Island | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.7

Camping fee: Summer rates: $25 per adult per night, $16 per child per night

Winter rate: $20 per adult per night, $11 per child per night

Holiday Rate: $25 per adult per night, $16 per child per night – You need to stay a minimum of 3 nights  

Address: Little Harbor Rd, Avalon, CA 90704

  • It was named ‘One of the best Campgrounds in the West’ by Sunset Magazine
  • It is one of the campsites along the Trans-Catalina trail hike

Why you should go: Little Harbor Campground is a renowned beachfront camping site. It is ideal for anyone who would like to have a camping experience and at the same time enjoy water activities.

You will have a view of the lake and its sandy beach.

It is located in Catalina’s remote ‘backside’ and is the only campground in the area. It sits seven miles east of Two Harbors. 

Little Harbor has 29 campsites in total. These sites accommodate both tents and trailers. 

Things to do: Little Harbor Campground is an ideal site to visit for adults and children. It offers a wide range of mainland and water activities. 

You can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, sailing, wildlife viewing, hiking, cycling, mountain biking, and picnicking. 

Amenities: As one of the top 5 Catalina Island Camping sites, it has amenities like restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, barbeque grills, campsite tables, showers, firewood, and more. 

Pets are allowed. 

  • It is 16 minutes from Catalina Airport.

2. Two Harbors Campground

Philip Guarrera | Facebook

Rating: 4.4

Camping fee: Tent sites: Summer rates: $29 per adult (12+) per night, $20 per child (2-11) per night

Winter rate: $27 per adult (12+) per night, $18 per child (2-11) per night

Tent Cabins: Summer rates: $75 per night

Winter rate: $65 per night

Holiday Rate: $85 per night

Address: Campground, Two Harbors, CA 90704

  • It has a total of 60 camping sites
  • It sits on a bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean

Why you should go: Two Harbors Campground is a beautiful campground that is semi-primitive without being completely isolated. 

It overlooks the Pacific Ocean, thus, giving guests one of the most beautiful views in the area. The campground is about half a mile from the village on a secluded site at the isthmus. 

Guests can either pitch a tent or use the 13 tent cabins on the site. 

Things to do: Two Harbors is a famous and top Catalina Island camping site owing to its massive hiking opportunity. It is one of the featured campgrounds along the 38.5-mile Trans-Catalina Trail.

The campground is also an ideal spot for mountain biking. 

For water activities, guests can enjoy kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and more. 

Amenities: Two Harbors Campground has the following amenities; general store, firewood, charcoal, restrooms, hot showers, bar and restaurant, and more.

  • It is 29 minutes from Catalina Airport.

3. Hermit Gulch Campground

Woman overlooking Avalon from Hermit Gulch, Catalina Island | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.7

Camping fee: Tent sites: Summer rates: $29 per adult (12+) per night, $20 per child (2-11) per night

Winter rate: $27 per adult (12+) per night, $18 per child (2-11) per night

Address: 1201 Avalon Cyn Rd, Avalon, CA 90704

  • It is the only campground in Avalon located within the city
  • It is 1.5 miles from the Avalon boat landing

Why you should go: Hermit Gulch Campground is one of the best Catalina Island Camping grounds owing to its proximity to the city. It is in Avalon Canyon. It is close to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden and Nature Center.

Guests are treated to a scenic view of the beautiful landscape that surrounds the camping site. The landscape is characteristic of forests and hills. It is home to a wide variety of animal and plant species.  

If you love hiking, you can access the Trans-Catalina Trail from here. 

Things to do: Hermit Gulch Campground is famous for its beautiful hiking trails. You will enjoy exploring the surrounding area, which includes the hills and forests. 

The area has a bustling nightlife that you will experience. 

Amenities: The Campground has amenities, like picnic tables, restrooms with flush toilets, showers, BBQ stands, shops, restaurants, and more. 

  •  It is 42 minutes from Catalina Airport.

4. Black Jack Campground

Topanga Creek Outpost | Facebook

Rating: 4.2

Camping fee: free camping

Address: Avalon, CA 90704

  • It is on the foot of Mt. Orizaba
  • It sits at 1,600 ft. above sea level

Why you should go: Black Jack Campground sits on a landscape characteristic of pine and eucalyptus trees. It is on the slopes of Mt. Orizaba, the highest peak on Catalina Island. 

The campground is located further from the other camping sites towards the interior of the island. It gives a real forest camping experience. You will be between trees in a serene environment that creates an atmosphere suitable for bonding with nature. 

It features ten camping sites that offer enchanting views of the surrounding landscape. 

Things to do: Black Jack Campground’s terrain offers good grounds for hiking. It is also one of the featured campsites on the Trans-Catalina Trail.

Amenities: There are picnic tables, BBQ rings, freshwater, chemical toilets, and outdoor showers. 

  • It is 14 minutes from Catalina Airport.

5. Parsons Landing

Benjamin Sauder | Shutterstock

Rating: 4.7

Camping fee: Summer rates: $25 per adult per night, $16 per child per night

Winter rate: $20 per adult per night, $11 per child per night

Address: West End Road, Avalon, CA 90704

  • It sits 7 miles from Two Harbors village to the west

Why you should go: Parsons Landing is an isolated campground that features eight primitive camping sites. Each of the sites allows up to eight people. 

The camping site is accessible through kayaking or hiking on the Silver Peak Trail which is 6.7 miles. You can also take a walk on the West End Road, about 7.7 miles. 

Things to do: Just like the other top Catalina Island Camping sites, Parsons Landing is also featured on the 38.5-mile Trans-Catalina Trail. It is an ideal site for hiking enthusiasts. 

  • It is 4.25 miles from Two Harbors by water.
  • It is 1hr 1 minute from Catalina Airport.

That’s all from me today. Catalina Island awaits!

Enjoying California and planning to extend your stay? looking for more ideas ? We do recommend you to check more fun things to do on Catalina Island and fun things to do in San Diego, and don’t miss our cool list of what to do in Malibu! Enjoy