Have you ever asked the question "What is there to do on Catalina?" For first time visitors considering a trip to Catalina Island, it can be a daunting task figuring what to do. From outdoor adventures, to tours, to shopping and spas, there is so much to consider.
1. Take a tour by land or by sea
Get out on the water! The Glass Bottom Boat Voyage is a fun 40 minute tour aboard the Moonstone. Board the Sea Wolf, a semi-submersible submarine on the Undersea Expedition. Both tours meander through Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve. For the more adventurous, hop on the Ocean Runner, a 12 person high-speed, rigid inflatable boat with 500 horsepower. Seek out pods of dolphins as you make your way over to Sea Rocks. During the summer months, look for the Flying Fish Voyage or the Discover Two Harbors tour.
Venture out on 4 wheels. We offer 7 different land tours. Tour through Avalon on the Avalon Scenic Tour, view the bay at night on the Avalon Harbor Lights Tour or get off road on the Avalon Canyon Trail Tour. Get out into the wild on one of our interior tours. 88% of Catalina Island is within the Catalina Conservancy, a land trust set up to preserve Catalina’s natural resources. Wildlife within Conservancy includes bison, fox and bald eagles. The Cape Canyon Expedition is a 4 hour hummer tour through scenic Middle Ranch Canyon, Cape Canyon and Little Harbor. The Inland Expedition is a 3 hour journey aboard a 1950s Flx Bus through Middle Ranch, with stops at Airport in the Sky, the Native Plant Nursery and the Bald Eagle Habitat. The East End Adventure is a hummer tour that explores the East End of Catalina Island. The Skyline Drive Tour winds up to Catalina’s Airport in the Sky with scenic views of the coastline. With a 30 minute stop at Airport in Sky, you can check out the Nature Center or pick up a souvenir or snack at the DC-3 Grill.
2. Step back in time
Built in 1929, the Catalina Casino is the most iconic building on Catalina. There’s no gambling here. Casino means place of gathering in Italian. With its 1,200 seat theatre and its circular ballroom, touted as the world’s largest, you’ll be enchanted by its fabled history. Discover the history on the Discover the Casino Tour, the Behind the Scenes Tour or the Twilight at the Casino Tour.
3. Catalina Island Museum
Located on Metropole Ave, the Catalina Island Museum offers a peek into Catalina’s long and storied history as a vacation spot to the Hollywood elite of the 1940’s and 1950’s and the spring training locale for the Chicago Cubs. The museum boasts over 10,000 photographs documenting island life from the early 1880’s to the present day.
4. Beach It
Beach time is the best time. There are 3 main beaches on the front street in Avalon; Main Beach, Step Beach and South Beach. Descanso Beach Club, out past the Catalina Casino, is a private club that is open to the public where you can enjoy drinks on the beach, as well as lunch. Bring our own towel to enjoy lunch on the beach or rent a cabana or chaise lounge for the day.
Whether you’re looking for a souvenir, t-shirt, special gift or toy, Avalon offers a variety of shops to suit your every need. Stop into the Spa Shoppe at Island Spa Catalina, which offers clothing, spa products, jewelry and unique gifts.
You’ll find something for every palette on Catalina Island. From Italian, American, to fresh fish and sushi. You won’t find any chain restaurants here. Avalon Grille, with its oceanfront view, features new American cuisine and regional dishes with a seasonal approach. For a special treat, make a reservation at Mt. Ada. The former summer cottage of William Wrigley, Jr. is now a bed and breakfast that opens its door to guests for lunch. Pick up breakfast, coffee or a grab-and-go lunch at Ben's Bakery, located at the Shops at Atwater.
7. Rent a Golf Cart
Fun Fact: There are very few cars on Catalina Island. Most people get around on foot, bike or via golf cart. Rent a golf cart and take a self-guided tour of Avalon. You’ll easily be able to take in all the sights in 2 hours.
8. Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens
The Wrigley Memorial was built to honor William Wrigley Jr. With its commanding views, it is the centerpiece of the botanical gardens. Operated by the Catalina Island Conservancy, the gardens are home to 7 endemic plant species only found on Catalina Island and 26 endemic plant species that are only found on Southern California islands.
If you’re looking to get a little exercise in during your visit, there are many options. Hike around some of the steep roads in Avalon; up to behind the Catalina Casino, to the start of the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour, to Mt. Ada or the Wrigley Memorial. Each offers panoramic views. If you want to get off road, check out “the hour trail,” across from Hermit Gulch campground or Garden to the Sky Trail. Stop by the Avalon Canyon Nature Center for directions.
Island Spa Catalina opened in 2014 as one of Catalina’s first destination spas. The spa offers a variety of treatments including massage, body and facial therapies, along with nail, hair and makeup services. There is a Wellness Studio were you can enjoy Fitness on Demand or Instructor led classes. Spa guests relax in the sauna, steam room, pool or Jacuzzi. Enjoy breakfast or lunch at the onsite Encanto Café.
Built in 1892, the Catalina Island Golf Course is thought to be the oldest operating golf course west of the Mississippi. Stop into the Pro Shop at the Catalina Country Club which was once home to the Chicago Cubs when they used Catalina Island as their spring training destination. Enjoy 9 challenging holes.
For those interested in golf on a smaller scale, play a round at the Mini Golf Gardens. Visitors rave about the fun and challenging holes on this 18-hole course.
12. Outdoor Adventure
Descanso Canyon is home to three unique adventures: the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour, the Catalina Aerial Adventure and the Catalina Climbing Wall. On the Zip Line, travel over ¾ of a mile over five consecutive zip lines at heights of 600 feet above sea level and speeds up to 30 mph. The Catalina Aerial Adventure offers five self-guided, self-paced courses, each made up of rope ladders, log bridges, balance beams, zip lines and other challenging elements, offering aerial excitement for everyone, regardless of skill or athletic ability. Challenge your climbing skills on the 32 foot high Climbing Wall with 8 color coded climbing routes for every level.