Catalina Island

Catalina Island Itineraries

Catalina Island: Perfect Day in Avalon

Island paradise near Los Angeles but a world away

Save to my Account

It’s only 22 miles from Los Angeles, California, but Catalina Island seems like another world — a colorful world of swaying palm trees and sun-soaked beaches where flying fish leap from sparkling waters, bison roam the western-movie-ready hills of the back country and residents zip around in golf carts.

Santa Catalina Island (its official name) is the southernmost of the Channel Islands that lace the central and southern California coastline like a jeweled necklace. The island, which lies southwest of Los Angeles, is 22 miles (35 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) across at its widest, with a high elevation of 2,097 feet (639 m) at Mt. Orizaba. The two main towns are rustic Two Harbors and pedestrian-friendly Avalon with its nearby Descanso Beach. One of Avalon’s best-known sights and the first thing visitors see as they approach the town’s picture-perfect harbor is the much-photographed circular, art deco Catalina Casino, an iconic red-tile-roofed building and cultural center that houses a movie theater, ballroom and museum. Outside of the two towns is a rugged, majestic wilderness, owned and operated by the Catalina Island Conservancy.

Catalina Island’s Legendary Legacy

With a mild subtropical climate and warm temperatures year round, Catalina has long been an island idyll for everyone from land-locked Los Angelenos to east coast and midwest adventurers.

The island’s rich history is a story of baseball and bison, glitz and glamor.  In 1919 chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought the island from the Banning brothers, who had begun to develop it and had built the green pleasure pier, which still stands to this day. Wrigley invested millions in the island, building infrastructure and attractions. To increase attention and tourists, he made it the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs, which he also owned. The team trained on the island until 1951. Catalina’s storied past includes a chapter as a glamorous getaway during Hollywood’s golden age. During the 1930s and 1940s, the island played host to stars such as Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, and Humphrey Bogart. Norma Jean Baker called Avalon home before she became known as Marilyn Monroe.

Always ready for its close-up, the island has been immortalized on the silver screen in dozens of movies. In 1924 fourteen bison were brought to Catalina for one of those films. When the film crews departed, the bison remained and have become an expertly managed addition to the island’s wildlife population. Today, the Santa Catalina Island Company is owned by descendants of William Wrigley Jr., who carry on his vision for this world-class island resort.

Exploring Catalina Island

One of the reasons that over a million people each year visit this unique island idyll is that it can be enjoyed in boatloads of ways. There’s something for all ages and interests, and it’s a breeze to tailor your stay to your needs. Craving an escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles-area activities but have only a day to spare? No problem. Looking for a relaxing and romantic weekend getaway? Catalina has you covered. Need a week jam-packed with outdoor adventures for adrenaline junkies or energetic family members? Check and check. Scroll through the itineraries here, mix and match to suit your needs, or use them as a jumping-off (or diving-in) point to create your own.

When To Go

Summer sees the most visitors, so if you want to avoid crowds, try the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. The average high temp during the summer months is 72 degrees with an average low of 65 degrees. The average ocean temperature hovers around 70 degrees in August, making it the warmest ocean water off the California coast. In winter, the average high is 63 and average low is 50 degrees.

What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $US.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

N/A => Not applicable

$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person


Contributing to the laid-back island getaway vibe is the fact that motor vehicles are restricted — there’s a limit on the number of registered cars and nary a traffic light on the entire island. Most residents get around quite happily on foot, bike, or golf cart. Visitors can rent golf carts or bikes, hire a taxi or shuttle from Catalina Transportation Services, or take the fixed-route Avalon trolley.


You need to login to favorite a post.

Need to sign up? Create an account here.

Forgot your password? Reset your password here.