When you live in Los Angeles and Orange County’s urban and suburban sprawl, it’s easy to forget that California is actually blessed with an abundance of stunning wild spaces right in our own backyard. One of the top outdoor destinations you absolutely need to explore is Catalina Island, which offers the perfect mix of opportunities for adventure both on land and at sea.
Catalina Island is an intriguing mix of rugged interior and beautiful shoreline, with a network of trails that are among California’s best, crisscrossing the island and offering awesome views. Mountain bikers and hikers alike love these challenging but rewarding trails, a majority of which are rated moderate to advanced. As you traverse these pathways, you’ll have the chance to spot the island’s wildlife, like the endemic Catalina Island fox, Catalina California quail, and even bald eagles.
Avalon and Two Harbors both boast several mild to moderate routes that can each be completed within several hours, giving you time to explore a number of different pathways and vistas. But for the truly adventurous, there’s nothing quite like hiking the entirety of the Trans-Catalina Trail (TCT). This route spans 38.5 miles and is often traversed over 3 to 4 days with stops along the island’s various campgrounds. The TCT will take you across the island’s ridgeline, where cooler temperatures make for more comfortable hiking, even during the summer months. As you venture along the trail, the remote interior of the island opens up to you, yielding up unforgettable moments that will make you want to return time and time again.
An easier way to explore Catalina Island’s interior and still get a glimpse of its amazing views is with a scenic inland expedition tour. The Ridgetop Eco Adventure will take you on a journey aboard an open-air biofuel Hummer through the untouched wilderness of the island, and you’ll be able to enjoy breathtaking ocean and canyon views of both sides of the island. 10% of the proceeds from this tour also goes towards the important work of the Catalina Island Conservancy. More interested in catching a glimpse of the island’s American bison? Make a reservation to go on our Bison Expedition to get a chance to see these majestic creatures as you’re taken through their favorite hillside grazing ground on a 4-wheel drive adventure. Your journey will then take you to a scenic overlook on Black Jack Mountain, before winding its way down the original 19th-century stagecoach route down to Avalon.
For an experience that is more out of the ordinary, Catalina Island also boasts adventures with Zipline Eco Tours, a series of 5 different lines that take you from over 600 feet above sea level, right to the pristine sands of the Descanso Beach Club. Your exhilarating zipline rides will be enhanced by the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and by the chance to catch a glimpse of the island’s native flora and fauna. Over the course of this 2-hour activity, your guides will also tell you everything you need to know about Catalina Island’s unique geography and history.
With over 62 miles of undeveloped coastline, the rich marine environment around Catalina Island was named the world’s healthiest by Scuba Diving Magazine and is not to be missed by nature enthusiasts. Snorkelers and scuba divers will love the sparkling clear turquoise waters around the island, where you can swim alongside orange Garibaldi fish, and the other 150 species of fish that call the kelp forest home. Late summer and early fall offer some of the best times to jump into the cool, clean waters of Catalina Island.
Another great way to work up a sweat before a fresh seafood meal would be to rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak from Descanso Beach. Avid kayakers can make their way along the perimeter of the island, to find some of the secluded beaches that dot the coastline.
Families who want a more comfortable way to explore the depths can go on a 45-minute underwater cruise and get taken on an Undersea Expedition in a comfortable, climate-controlled semi-submersible vessel. You can gaze out of your very own porthole at the rich marine life, while a knowledgeable guide offers live commentary on what you’re seeing. Visitors always marvel at the clarity of the waters, and the sheer numbers of fish on display.
The best part about a Catalina Island adventure is just how customizable it can be. Exploring the great outdoors on this island can be as rugged or as luxurious as you want. Get in touch with us today so we can help you plan a truly memorable experience.