Located only 26 miles off the coast of Southern California, Santa Catalina (Catalina Island), is the perfect way to spend a relaxing few days. As you arrive on Catalina Island, you will feel as if you traveled across the world to a quaint European town. Follow this travel guide to experience a weekend of luxury on Catalina Island, California.
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT
Luckily, Catalina Island has a temperate marine climate year-round. Summer months and weekends are the more popular times people visit Catalina. My personal suggestion would be to visit in the fall or spring months.
Summer: Warmer weather makes it ideal to swim and enjoy the beach, however, this attracts more crowds and steeper prices.
Fall / Spring: The best time to visit Catalina Island is from September to November or April to May. Sunny weather and fewer crowds!
HOW TO GET TO CATALINA ISLAND
Ferry to Catalina Island
The easiest and most reasonable way to get to Catalina Island is on the Catalina Express. There are three different ferry ports in Southern California to depart from. Long Beach, Dana Point, and San Pedro. There is also the Catalina Flyer that departs from Newport Beach.
Each ticket is about $75 round trip with set departure times and a specific number of seats. That being said, make sure you purchase your ticket in advance. They can sell out quickly, especially during the high season.
Helicopter to Catalina Island
The quicker, but the more expensive route is arriving by helicopter! Costing about $300 round trip per person. Book a helicopter directly from Long Beach and land on Catalina Island in about 15 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY
There are many different accommodation options for all travelers! I honestly do not think you can go wrong. I was lucky enough to stay at the luxurious Wrigley property, Mt Ada Inn.
Stay atop the mountain overlooking Avalon Bay at the beautiful Mt Ada Inn. You will be treated like royalty at the 4-star property, which only has six en suite guest rooms, making your stay even more secluded and private.
Not only will you be able to enjoy breakfast, lunch, hors d’oeuvres, and spirits on the spectacular wrap-around terrace, you also receive a complimentary electronic golf cart! Making it easy to explore all Catalina Island has to offer.
Looking for more hotel options, check out all the hotels on Catalina Island here.
MEL’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO CATALINA ISLAND
WHERE TO EAT
- Steve’s Steakhouse & Seafood. Enjoy steak, seafood, or pasta dishes with beautiful bay views.
- The Naughty Fox. Delicious American fares with a trendy atmosphere and cheeky cocktails.
- NDMK Fish House. Devour fresh-caught fish in a laid-back setting.
- The Lobster Trap. A casual seafood eatery with a relaxed vibe.
- Bluewater Grill. Popular bistro serving seafood & cocktails on an airy waterfront deck overlooking the bay.
- Coyote Joes. Mexican fare, known for famous potato tacos!
- The Sandtrap. Tasty burritos & Mexican food with a casual pet-friendly patio
- Breakfast: Pancake Cottage. Enjoy waterfront views while eating a classic American breakfast
- Llyod’s Ice Cream & Taffy. Fun Fact: This is where Marilyn Monroe worked making taffy!
- Catalina Coffee & Cookie Co. Coffee & dessert shop with a variety of delightful treats.
WHERE TO DRINK
- Maggie Blue Rose for delicious margaritas!
- Luau Larry’s Tiki Bar
- Descanso Beach Club for the famous Buffalo Milk Cocktail!
MEL’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO CATALINA ISLAND
THINGS TO DO
Rent Electric Bikes or Golf Carts and tour the Island! Here are some gorgeous spots to visit on your own guided tour (this is a rough map of the route to take, feel free to make it your own!).
- Visit the Botanical Gardens. The Wrigley Memorial and botanical gardens were built in memory of William Wrigley Jr. He was the main driving factor as to why tourism became so popular on Catalina Island. The memorial is beautiful to visit and walk through. Open daily from 8 am – 5 pm.
- Take a peek at the Wrigley Mansions scattered throughout the island.
- Stop at the most picturesque places for stunning views of Avalon Bay.
- Walk along St Catherine Way
- Catalina Casino. It is actually not a gambling casino! In Italian, casino means “gathering place.” The casino is a famous art deco theater and ballroom. There are two walking tours offered where you are able to see the entirety of the venue.
- Take a Jeep Tour of Catalina Island. Explore the side of Catalina that most people never see! You will visit Catalina’s Airport in the Sky, spot wildlife, and see Catalina’s famous Bison that graze about the island.
- Food Tour! Enjoy an all-inclusive experience as you sip, sample & savor Catalina’s best.
- Catalina Ghost Tour. Local historians will be your guide to exploring the stories behind Avalon’s phantom residents.
Looking for more adventurous activities? There are many scattered about the island.
- Go Ziplining & and have an Aerial Adventure
- Submarine Tour
- Rent Jet Skis
- Go Parasailing
- Enjoy a day out on a boat
- Take a hike! There are over 165 miles of hiking trails on Catalina Island.
That is a wrap! Hopefully, this Catalina Island travel guide will make it easier for you to plan your own trip! If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below!
Looking for more destinations within the United States to visit? Take a look at all my USA destinations here.