Travel Guide | Catalina Island

Monday, March 26, 2018

Catalina Island is a hidden gem just off the coast of Southern California. Even though it is just off the coast, it truly feels like you have travelled to another country. You can travel to Catalina Island easily by ferry from either Dana Point or Long Beach. Catalina is a pretty small island with only one real town, Avalon, and another area if you plan on camping, Two Harbors. This guide will be focusing on what to do when in the small town of Avalon! Avalon is a great place to head for a long weekend or even just as a day trip!

How to Get Around Town

Since Catalina is so small, there are very few cars allowed on the island. You will be able to take a shuttle/taxi to your hotel or other accommodations. Once you have settled in, you can get around town either by walking or by renting a golf cart! Avalon is only one square mile so don't worry about the walking if you don't want to have to worry about a golf cart and finding (very limited) parking. The interior parts of the island will require you to take guided tours to easily and safely get around!

Where to Stay

Although Avalon is only one square mile, there are about 18 hotels to choose from depending on your budget and needs. If you want to live like a local, there are also many vacation home and condo rentals available. Personally, I prefer staying in a vacation rental in the Hamilton Cove community. These condos are just a quick drive up the hill from the town. The rentals all come with their own golf carts for your use and they all have gorgeous ocean views! The community also has a private pool area and a private beach!

I wrote a post all about staying at Hamilton Cove and you can read it by clicking here!

Where to Eat

Avalon is mainly a tourist destination so there is definitely no shortage of restaurants, bars, and places to grab snacks. I definitely recommend giving any of the restaurants a try but I'm going to share a few that are my favorites.

Bluewater Avalon is a seafood restaurant that is set right along the water. Ask for a table outside so you can enjoy the beautiful views while you eat!

Steve's Steakhouse is a nicer restaurant on the island and perfect for a special occasion. All of the seating is indoors on the second floor of the building, which gives amazing views of the ocean.

The Lobster Trap is a small, casual seafood restaurant that serves fresh, local lobster!

Avalon Grille is a restaurant and bar that has a more upscale type of vibe. It's a great spot to grab dinner or to sit at the bar for a drink!

El Galleon is a casual restaurant that sells typical American style food. It doesn't look like much from outside but the food is great!

Things to Do

There are a ton of activities available in Avalon. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, you will be able to find something to make your trip enjoyable!

Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy the beauty of the island. It is a 30 minute walk up Avalon Canyon Rd, but you can also take your golf cart or a taxi if you need to. The memorial is for William Wrigley Jr., the man who founded the chewing gum company. It's good to note that the gardens are made up of mostly cacti and succulents!

Boat Adventures & Tours are a great way to spend some time out on the water and see some of the local sea life! There are quite a few different boat tours to choose from, depending on what you want to see and your level of adventure. You can go on a fast ocean runner tour, a semi-submersible submarine tour, or a glass bottom boat tour - just to name a few. There are also great spots for snorkeling, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking.

Land Adventures & Tours are a great way to see the inland areas of the island, as well as the local wildlife. If land adventures are your thing, the island also has a great zip lining adventure!

The Casino & Avalon Theatre is a beautiful building that will transport you back in time. Although it is called a casino, there is no gambling! The Casino was built in 1929 as a gathering place for locals and visitors. It was the first theatre built specifically for "talkies" or movies with sound! There are several different tours you can take of the building!

Descanso Beach Club is a private beach club on the other side of the Casino. This is a great spot to come if you want a relaxing day at the beach. You can rent either chaise lounge chairs or cabanas for the day. There's often live music with either live artists or DJs. Your cabana or chaise lounge chair rental comes with complimentary towels, complimentary bottled water, and food and beverage service.


  1. Beautiful pictures! I love beach towns!

  2. i LOVE catalina!! We always go to Luau Larry's for the crazy hats with the drinks plus the food is always delicious!!

  3. I've always wanted to visit the Catalina Islands. Love that you can rent golf carts to go around the island!

  4. I haven't been to catalina island since I was a kid, but I am dying to go back! It is so beautiful and looks like so much fun! Thanks for your guide!

  5. I can't wait to visit Cali again - those pics are so lovely. I'd love to see the islands. xx

  6. What gorgeous photos! I'm a Californian, but it's been a long time since my husband and I last visited Catalina Island. We went via a 5-day cruise. Now that you've reminded me of this fun and beautiful destination I want to head back there this summer.

  7. I've never been there before but since I'm planning a trip out west next summer I will definitely look it up.
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