Santa Catalina Island Travel Guide

  • Catalina Kayaking
    Catalina Kayaking
    by atufft
  • Harbor View
    Harbor View
    by GracesTrips
  • Santa Catalina Island
    by GracesTrips

Santa Catalina Island Highlights

  • Pro
    Goner profile photo

    Goner says…

     A Great Weekend Get-a-Way 

  • Con
    pigletsmom profile photo

    pigletsmom says…

     The boat ride over and back can be a little uncomfortable 

  • In a nutshell
    annk profile photo

    annk says…

     A beautiful and relaxing get-a-way 

Santa Catalina Island Things to Do

  • Wrigley Memorial Gardens, Part 3

    At the box end of the canyon, William Wrigley had commissioned a tomb for himself, since he loved the islands so much. However, his family took his body for burial back in Chicago. The structure features materials and architecture popular to Catalina generally--exposed aggregate and colored tile. But, there are also materials imported at great...

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  • Wrigley Memorial Gardens, Part 2

    Perhaps the most important part of the botanical gardens show cases species found only on the California Channel Islands. There is a video that explains how each island has plant species unique to it's own environment. Since visitors rarely visit the other islands, this garden show cases much of the beauty of all the islands.

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  • Wrigley Memorial Gardens, Part 1

    The Catalina Island Botanical Gardens were a Wrigley inspiration, where the section just past the entrance displays unique cactus and succulent species from all over the world, some planted at a time when these plants were not widely appreciated elsewhere. Spiny cacti are unique to the western hemisphere, whereas succulents are found in dry regions...

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Santa Catalina Island Hotels

Santa Catalina Island Restaurants

  • Locally Caught Seafood

    The local food here is seafood, although my host frequently prefers a steak--also widely available on the island. Fortunately, the Lobster Trap has a diverse menu for locals in a sports bar atmosphere. The restaurant is located on the corner of 3rd and Catalina Ave, a block off the beach, and so it's not generally crowded with tourists wanting a...

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  • Not bad, not great

    I suppose I expected more. The first night we had dinner last year in Catalina, we ate here. The dinner we order at that time was okay, not great. I didn't realize that this was the same place until we walked in. I wanted to make reservations at the Country Club restaurant but they had a special wine dinner with set meal. My boyfriend isn't good...

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  • Latte and Scrumptious Dessert!

    This appears to be a gift store but the surprise is inside. There is no Starbuck's on the island but this comes pretty close to it. You can get your latte fix and a gourmet dessert to boost. My boyfriend and I had coffee and dessert for breakfast. It's not cheap, the bill came to $22. But I thoroughly enjoyed it! The gift store part of the store...

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Santa Catalina Island Nightlife

  • Karaoke All Day, All Night

    We did not partake in the festivities in this place, but you can't help but notice the NOISE. Wildly decorated and lots of drinking going on. In the evening as we walked by, the place was packed like sardines. Sorry kids, they have a sign that says 21+. Casual

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  • Live Music

    Located on the waterfront near the ferry ticket offices, Luau Larry's has wide, french doors that open out onto the street. It's a very casual place that's perfect for just chilling out on a summer night. 21 & over only.

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  • Local music spot

    Tips is just far enough back from the Green pier that most tourists miss it. You just see Sushi on the awning and thing Skip It ... Don't. Go see if the local guys are playing this night. No Cover for hot Live music. Eat Sushi or not. Order from the menu or not. Do drink well poured drinks from the bar. The locals hit this joint for a full pour....

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Santa Catalina Island Transportation

  • Catalina Express

    The ferry service to Santa Catalina Island is the only such regular ferry service in the United States that isn't heavily subsidized by the government, although there is a resident discount coupon system provided by Los Angeles County. Thus, the fares are not particularly cheap, and to some extend residents--most of whom are Hispanic housekeepers,...

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  • Most Convenient Ride to Catalina

    The price of the Catalina Cruiser is a bit high- $66.50 round trip, but the convenience is unbeatable. Its a quick ride (~1 hour) to the island, and leaves from three different locations from the mainland and services both harbors on Catalina.

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  • Catalina Express

    Catalina Channel Express or CAT EXPRESS runs from both Long Beach & San Pedro on a pretty regular service. Trip takes about an hour. While you can buy tickets right at the harbor, it makes more sense to book your outbound trip to Catalina as soon as you can as they do sell out, especially in the busy summer months. For the return trip, there's not...

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Santa Catalina Island Shopping

  • Exquisite Gift Store

    This is a wonderful gift shop combination coffee shop (Starbuck's quality). The gift items are great! Items like, jewelry, books, soaps, perfumes, serving dishes, glassware, wine, etc. Also look under my restaurant tip for photos of the desserts. It's not cheap but they have nice quality items priced reasonably for what you get.

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  • Buying Sea Shells

    This shop if off the beaten path. The stores on Crescent Avenue that sell sea shells are sort of expensive. This place was reasonble. I spotted a coral cluster I liked. The store on Crescent wanted $145 mounted on a 3X5 piece of acrylic. This store sold the same thing without the acrylic base for $35. I didn't buy it because I didn't want to carry...

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  • Another Gift Shop

    This was actually a nice gift shop. Lots of wine stuff. Some dishes, pictures and such. Located in the Metropole Market Place.

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Santa Catalina Island Local Customs

  • What ever your heart desires!

    I walked into another gift shop filled with seashells. The guy behind the counter, Eric, hands me a business card. He has his own little side business called Island Style Deliveries. Dependable deliveries to your home, condo or hotel. Delivering what? Well, he claims whatever you want, whenever you want. If you want tacos at 2 am in the morning,...

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  • Dances with the buffalos

    To see and photograph wild buffalos you can take the "Inland Safari" tour from Avalon. But there's no guarantee you'll see any.The attached buffalo photo was taken near a place called Echo Lake. From the airport (Airport-in-the-sky) it's about 1 hour hike to the east. Before you reach the lake there's a plateau with great ocean view. That's where I...

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  • Cubs and buffalos

    Wrigley bought Chicago's Cubs baseball team in 1916, three years after he purchased the controlling interest in Santa Catalina Island Company. In 1921, he began bringing the Cubs to the island for spring training. He even built a baseball field to match the dimension of Chicago's Wrigley Field. Every year exhibition games are put out for the local...

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Santa Catalina Island Warnings and Dangers

  • Seat belts in the "Inland Tour"...

    I brought my daughter and her four children to Catalina last year. The children 11, 7, and 5 year old twins. We checked in at "Discovery Tours" and bought tickets for the "Inland Motor Tour".We had been on the tour for awhile. All of a sudden, the driver of the vehicle that we were in started driving at an unsafe speed towards the Catalina airport....

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  • Crazy drivers!

    If you rent a golf cart to drive around in, watch out for the locals! Most of them drive golf carts, too and some drive small cars or trucks- No matter what they're driving- look out! They are on a mission and they will run your a$$ off the road!

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  • Santa Catalina Island Hotels

    1 Hotels in Santa Catalina Island

    25 Reviews and Opinions

Santa Catalina Island Tourist Traps

  • Submarine: the brochure lies!

    Upon coming to Catalina Island, my friends and I realized that we only had a few hours to spend on the Island (a day trip from Newport Beach, also possible from LA) so we had to pick our things-to-do very carefuly and be financially smart. We had a choice of either snorkelling or going on a submarine and for some reason we picked the submarine...

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  • Tour Bus

    We saw these dated buses that reminded you of what buses looked liked back in the 50's and 60's that were taking loads of people on 2 hour, 4 hour and all day tours of Catalina. I'm not sure what you will get to see on these tours. The island doesn't appear to be inhabited much. I know there are buffalo on the island and probably isolated to a...

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  • Walk Instead

    You can rent golf carts to drive around town (cars are limited to residents) but the carts cost $30/hr. A little too expensive and many roads are off limits to carts, anyway the town is small enough to walk. Pick up a city map at one of the hotels, then you can do your own walking tour.

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Santa Catalina Island What to Pack

  • Bring a sweater or jacket

    It depends on the time of year you go. But keep in mind, it can get really cold at night whether it's winter or summer because you are on the water. If you enjoy hiking, bring a pair of hiking boots or tennis shoes. There are some great hiking trails. If it's summer, you must bring a pair of flip flops (not those silly Tevas) and a bathing suit....

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  • Depends on what you do...

    You can't bring your car here, and 80% of hotels are within 300 yards from the ferry terminal. So I would say, don't bring what you can't carry walking 300 yards. Otherwise you will need a taxi or golf cart just to get to your hotel. I usually bring just a backpack for a 3-day stay. Most of things you can get on the island anyway. Weather is...

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  • Dress in Layers

    Lightweight backpack is perfect walking shoes, comfortable sandals or sneakerscome in shorts and t-shirt, but also bring pants and a sweatshirt. It gets cold when the sun goes down. Bring a bathing suit in case you want to go swimming or snorkeling.Sunglasses and a hat. Sunblock is a must. shampoo if you are going to snorkel, soap Bring a...

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Santa Catalina Island Off The Beaten Path

  • Avalon Human Resident Cemetery

    On Cemetery Rd, which naturally branches off Country Club drive, high above the Avalon school, is the park like landscape where Catalina pioneers and former residents are buried. I didn't find any TongV tribal burials here, but there were plenty of locals who were born, lived out their lives, and eventually died in this island paradise. We visited...

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  • Avalon Pet Cemetery

    Take Wrigley Road up the hill a couple of turns, and you will find on the left an abandoned gated estate that's been turned into a pet cemetery. Although the city has not formally permitted the use of this lot, it has not been bulldozed. And, for good reason because their are many charming memorials to dogs, cats, and even hamsters. Some of these...

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  • Take a walk thru town to the Catalina...

    Walk up to the Catalina Country Club. It's an old country club from the 1930s designed in period revival architecture. The walk is nice, and the country club has a nice bar and restaurant. And if you want to play some golf, they have a lovely course.

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Santa Catalina Island Sports & Outdoors

  • Hiking the Island Canyons

    Part of the Kayak adventure includes beaching the kayaks and taking a short hike inland. The leader will lecture on the geology, flora, and fauna of the island. it's a good idea to have decent pair of walking shoes for this part of the trip.

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  • Kayaking the Catalina Coastline

    There is a very locally run and professional kayak outfit that caters to both individual and cruise ship visitors. We dodge the cruise ship day to avoid the crowd, and were able to appreciate the lecture skills of the owner during the trip. The kelp forests off the California Channel Islands are very much endangered by global warming because summer...

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  • Zip Line Tours Over the Island

    The web link below describes in full, including a video clip, the descent from a desert shrub hilltop of 500 feet through a canyon to Descanso Beach, over 5 separate zip lines. Although I didn't take time for this thrill, which I know isn't too cheap, I can recommend it to those into this sort of adventure. While the zip line ride flies high over a...

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Santa Catalina Island Favorites

  • Barge Wharf and Water Desalination Plant

    Take Wrigley Road a windy mile around the bend from Avalon Bay, and you will discover the industrial park, if you can call it that, of Santa Catalina Island. Located here is the heliport, marine dry docks, and a critically important but rudimentary barge wharf that transfers cargo between mainland and island only during high tide--day and night....

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  • Planning the trip

    If I had to do it again, which I will, I would stay overnight on this island as opposed to going back to the hotel on the mainland. There is a lot to see and do for nature lovers of both land and sea. From the airport go here first and stay maybe 2 days then go to the mainland.For those of you who do not heed my advice please note that there are...

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  • Staying in Catalina Island

    In Avalon there are plenty of places to stay. It's been awhile since I was there so Google "Catalina Island" for hotels. There is everything from B&B's to small hotels or you might be able to find a time share here if you look. Price ranges very and outside of the holidays they won't break the bank. If you stay at the Isthmus I think there is one...

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Explore Deeper into Santa Catalina Island
Dog Walk Avalon's Historic Residential District
Things to Do
Great steak and seafood!
Restaurants
Great Seafood and you can't beat the view
Restaurants
The Inn on Mt. Ada
Things to Do
On Catalina, the casino isn't for gambling.
Things to Do
Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens
Things to Do
Snorkeling
Sports & Outdoors
they add 25%tip!
Restaurants
The one and only stop in Two Harbors
Restaurants
Hiking the Trans Catalina Trail
Things to Do
whales
Things to Do
Find Lisa Marie Presley's $500,000 diamond ring!
Things to Do
Dolphin spotting
Things to Do
Skyline Drive Tour
Things to Do
Undersea Tour by Discovery Tours
Things to Do
How to get here
Transportation
Glass- Bottom Boat Ride in Catalina
Things to Do
Golf Cart Rentals
Transportation
Interactive Map
Transportation
Dive Avalon
Sports & Outdoors
Getting to Catalina
Transportation
Good Pizza!
Restaurants
You can fly to Catalina
Transportation
Horseback Riding
Things to Do
I Scream, U Scream for Ice Cream!
Restaurants
So, you want to buy some flowers and cheese?
Shopping
Golf Cart Rental
Things to Do
Snorkeling and/or Diving
Things to Do
What looks like a submarine, but not
Things to Do
Another Great Breakfast place
Restaurants
Jazz Festival
Off The Beaten Path
Nice Shirts and Airplanes!
Shopping
Fishing off the Pier
Sports & Outdoors
DOn't go in if you can help it!
Shopping
One of the very few Grocery Markets in Town
Shopping
You can't rent a car!
Transportation
Two Harbors: rent a kayak
Things to Do
Getting to Catalina
Transportation
Descanso Beach
Things to Do
Catalina Express
Transportation
Map of Santa Catalina Island

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