Leave the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Catalina Island for a weekend. Our interns tell us about the best spots on the island for outdoor activities and relaxation.
Catalina Island is the perfect getaway destination for anyone looking for an escape without having to travel very far! We took a friend’s boat from Redondo Beach, which took us about 1 and a half hours. The Catalina Express ferry that can take you across from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point daily for about $80 a person round trip to either Avalon or Two Harbors. Make sure to check the sea conditions before you depart because the water can sometimes be pretty choppy.
Once we arrived in Two Harbors (the less populated side of the island), we were greeted by crystal clear turquoise water where we could see the brightly colored orange Garibaldi damselfish swimming beneath our boat. The weather was absolutely beautiful and made for perfect conditions for swimming and hiking throughout the area.
We stayed with friends at the Fourth of July harbor where we camped in small rustic cabins at the yacht club. We liked taking the shore boat ($6 a person) to the Isthmus, which had a lot going on compared to where we were. The Isthmus is a popular spot for campers and boaters alike, since it has a Caribbean resort-like feel without the crowds. In this area, there is one restaurant (Harbor Reef) and one store, so if you are camping nearby, make sure to be well-stocked.
During the day, we rented mountain bikes for $22 an hour and took them to the majestic lookout at Cat Harbor, about a 15 minutes ride from the rental place. Along the way, we saw a bison pretty close to the trail! There are about 150 non-native bison living on the island today, as they were brought over in 1924 for a silent film and then left on the island. After mountain biking, we kayaked around the harbors and saw more Garibaldis, along with giant schools of fish.
Our favorite part of the trip to the island was the dance party that took place in front of the Harbor Reef Restaurant on Friday and Saturday night. They had a DJ and it was open for all ages until 11pm!
7 hours from Sacramento
7 hours from San Francisco
45 mins from Long Beach