You are here: Home | North America | USA | Best Things to Do in Catalina Island


Follow Us!  

Ultimate Guide To Exploring Catalina Island

For The First Time

January 3, 2020  |  By: Taylor Randolph

Santa Catalina Island is just off the coast of Southern California. It’s often referred to as just “Catalina” or “Catalina Island.” The only incorporated city on the island is Avalon and it’s where 90% of the island’s population lives. The other populated area is the village of Two Harbors. The warm Mediterranean climate of the island means there are very mild winters. The best time to go to Catalina Island is in the spring or fall to avoid the hottest months of the year.


Share or Save this Post for Later:

Ultimate Guide to Catalina Island pinterest cover photo



Catalina Island was settled by Native Americans in 7000 BC. In 1602, Spanish settlers arrived on the eve of Saint Catherine’s day and renamed the island in her honor. By the 1830s, the entire native population had either died or was brought to the mainland to work for landowners. Ownership of the island changed hands many times until William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing-gum magnate, purchased the island and invested millions to building a resort community. The Chicago Cubs even used the island for spring training between 1921 and 1951.


Top Things to Do in Catalina

Catalina Island is an amazing place to visit. Over one million people travel to Catalina Island every year. Avalon is the main resort community, with lots of things to do. If you are looking to escape the crowds, then check out the much smaller resort village of Two Harbors. To get to Catalina Island, you can either take a ferry or helicopter. The Catalina Express ferry only takes about one hour to reach the island from Long Beach. You will love the scenic views of Southern Californa as you sail across the channel. IEX Helicopters will get you to the island within 15-minutes. 


Buena Vista Point

For the most beautiful views over Avalon Bay, take a hike up to the Buena Vista Point Scenic Overlook. Starting from the center of Avalon, the hike is about one mile. Bring a camera because you won’t want to miss capturing Avalon’s scenic harbor with the Catalina Casino in the distance.


Descanso Beach

If you’re looking to relax on the beach and have some fun, then Descanso Beach is the ideal spot. The Descanso Beach Club will deliver food and drinks right to you on the sun-soaked beach. You can relax in a chaise lounge or private cabana while sipping on a pina colada. During the summer, the afternoons have more of a beach party vibe with DJs, live music, and happy hour drink specials.


Catalina Casino

The Catalina Casino was commissioned by William Wrigley Jr. and opened in 1929. This art deco masterpiece is a historic icon of Catalina’s romantic beginnings. Take one of the guided walking tours offered by the Catalina Casino – Discover the Casino, Behind the Scenes Casino, and Twilight at the Casino. Then, watch a movie in the Avalon Theatre, which was the first theatre built for “talkies.” Movies run every evening at 6:30 pm. You can also attend a variety of events at the Casino’s magnificent ballroom.  The Catalina Casino ballroom is on the top level and it is the world’s largest circular ballroom.


Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden

William Wrigley Jr. was the mastermind behind the vision and plan for the beautiful Santa Catalina Island. He attracted many of the elites and celebrities who graced this island and gave the island it’s star-studded legacy. The Wrigley Memorial honors his memory and his contribution to the island. The memorial used as much of Catalina materials as possible, including quarried Catalina stones. It was built by the same architects who designed Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain. The idea of the botanical garden was created by Mr. Wrigley’s wife, Ada, in 1935. Santa Catalina Island’s mild subtropical climate makes it possible to showcase plants from all over the world.



The Trans-Catalina Trail is a 37-mile route along the backbone of the island. If this doesn’t sound like fun to you, thankfully you can just do pieces of the trail and still reach the best views over the island. You will need to start at the Catalina Conservancy and obtain a free hiking permit and trail map. Then, you can choose the length and difficulty of your hike. Check out popular trails like the Garden to Sky Trail, the Avalon Bay Trail, or the Hermit Gulch Trail.


Catalina Room Escape

This pirate-themed escape room is really one of the highlights of Santa Catalina Island. It’s an immersive experience with challenging puzzles, creative riddles, and lots of family-friendly fun. Captain Mike is there to help you if you get too stuck, so this room is also perfect for beginners. You’ll even get complimentary group photos dressed in your pirate costumes. If you have an hour to spare and want an engaging activity, go sign up for the Catalina Room Escape.


Sailing in Catalina


Soak in the beautiful scenery while setting out to sea on a sailboat excursion. Enjoy the ocean views and watch for sea lions, dolphins, and whales. You can also have the opportunity to swim or snorkel in the refreshingly clear water. Sunset cruises are really a must-do while you are in Catalina Island.




Check out other things to do in California:

San Diego Travel Guide

Top Things to Do in Hollywood

Travel Guide to Yosemite National Park


Follow Us!  

Back to overview

Hi there! 

We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest. 

Latest articles What to Do in Orlando (Besides the Theme Parks!)
You are here: Home | North America | USA | What to Do in Orlando (Besides the Theme Parks!)  [...]
Local's Guide to New York City
You are here: Home | North America | USA | The Local's Guide to NYC [...]
Best National Parks in the USA
You are here: Home | North America | USA | Best National Parks in the USA   Follow Us! [...]
Top 5 Most Popular Islands of Hawaii
You are here: Home | North America | USA | Top 5 Most Popular Islands of Hawaii   Follow&[...]
Ultimate Smoky Mountain Bucketlist
You are here: Home | North America | USA | The Ultimate Smoky Mountain Bucketlist   Follo[...]
Top 10 Adventures Around Moab
You are here: Home | North America | USA | Top 10 Adventures Around Moab   Follow Us[...]
Top 10 Things to Do at Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is known for its rocky beaches and stunning cliffs. Within the 47,000 a[...]
Best Hikes in the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains has over 900 miles of world-renowned trails showcasing grandiose m[...]
5 Tips for Planning the Ultimate Grand Canyon Rafting Adventure
Are you ready to experience the Grand Canyon like never before? Rafting adventures take you [...]
Travel Guide to Savannah
You are here: Home | North America | USA | Travel Guide to Savannah   Follow Us![...]
Lake Tahoe Travel Guide
Mark Twain, in his 1871 travel book Roughing It, proclaimed Lake Tahoe as &qu[...]
What Not to Miss in Maui
Maui was named after the name of the Native Hawaiian demigod Māui. It is also called the [...]
Top Experiences in Oahu
You are here: Home | North America | USA | Top Experiences in Oahu   Follow Us! [...]
15 Things to Do in Charleston
You are here: Home | North America | USA | 15 Things to Do in Charleston   October 9,[...]
Weekend in Nashville
Nashville is such a perfect place to escape for the weekend or to throw an amazing party. Th[...]