Catalina Island

Catalina Island (officially Santa Catalina Island) is near the southern end of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. It's technically in Los Angeles County and is a popular day trip and vacation destination for locals and tourists.


Santa Catalina is 22 miles from the mainland, despite the lyrics of the Four Preps' song.

Twenty-six miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me
Santa Catalina, the Island of Romance -- "26 Miles", The Four Preps, 1958

Catalina is a world unto itself, a distant asylum from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Southern California. 88% of the island is owned by the Catalina Conservancy which is chartered with protecting its environment.

Many visitors to the island come from cruises offered by Carnival.

The area codes for Catalina Island are 310 and 424 (these are both shared with Los Angeles).


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 60 60 61 63 66 69 75 78 75 72 65 59
Nightly lows (°F) 50 48 49 49 52 54 60 62 62 58 53 49
Precipitation (in) 2.8 3.1 2.1 0.7 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.6 1.2 2.5

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)


"City" is a relative term on Catalina - neither Avalon nor Two Harbors are particularly large. Avalon became a city in 1913 and has about 4,000 permanent residents. Two Harbors is considerably smaller with about 150 residents. Two Harbors is primarily a boaters destination, the company manages 720 mooring around the west end of the Island along with campground, restaurant, dive and recreation rentals, 12 room bed and breakfast and a general store.

Get in

By boat

By plane

Get around


The Casino, built in 1929 by William Wrigley Jr., is a popular landmark and tourist attraction on the western tip of the Avalon beach. It was the tallest building in Los Angeles County at its completion. It features a ballroom, movie theater, and the Catalina Island Museum. There are no gambling facilities; the term casino refers instead to a more traditional Italian definition of casino, meaning social gathering place.


Snorkeling and SCUBA diving

Catalina is a haven for SCUBA divers in Los Angeles area. The main SCUBA diving site from Avalon is Casino Point, right next to the Casino building. Concrete steps have been created, so divers (and snorkelers) can step down a few steps and enter the water. Since Casino Point is north-pointing dive site, it is mostly protected from the heavy surf and waves most of the year. Casino Point is a protected area and NOTHING can be removed from the area. There is an air refill station as well as tank/weights rental right next to the entry point. Common sightings are garibaldi, bat rays, octopus, giant black sea bass, kelp bass, lobsters and horn sharks. Additional snorkeling can be done at Lovers' Cove, south of the ferry terminal. Dives are by harbormaster's permit only.

Many dive boats depart from various ports in LA area, such as Long Beach and San Pedro, for a day diving trip to various parts of Catalina Island that are otherwise inaccessible via car from Catalina Island. The typical cost is $110–150 and includes breakfast, lunch, and three dives with air fills. Some boats have nitrox at additional cost.

Known shipwrecks in the waters off the island include the Diosa del Mar (33.462770,N), which was sunk July 30, 1990 near Ship Rock, and the famous Su-Jac (among others) just off Casino point. The yacht Valiant burned and sank a couple hundred yards out from Descanso Beach. It had about $75,000 worth of jewelry on board which has never been recovered. The oldest shipwreck known on Santa Catalina Island is that of a Chinese smuggling ship off Ballast Point on the west side of the island.

New in 2011 is Sea Trek, utilizing high tech diving helmets that allows anyone (no diving or swimming skills needed) to discover Catalina's beautiful undersea environment on a guided underwater walking tour.

Glass-bottom boats

For those who don't want to snorkel or dive, there are many alternatives to viewing the underwater life - semi-submarine ride and glass-bottom boat rides. Tickets can be purchased from Catalina Discovery Tours in Avalon. Other unique attractions to Catalina Island are the Semi-Submarines there design is unique and allows visitors to see the underwater life, sitting 5 feet underwater, day and night. These custom-built vessels are operated by Discovery Tours "Ocean Expeditions" or Adventure Tours.


Classic to Catalina Island are the interior trips that take you to see the Bison that make part of Catalina Island their home. Other tours offered by Discovery Tours include Avalon Scenic Tour and Casino Tour.


Catalina is home to many yacht clubs: Catalina Island Yacht Club is headquartered in Avalon Bay and Isthmus Yacht Club is headquartered in the 1864 Union Army Barracks at Two Harbors. Many mainland yacht clubs maintain Catalina stations.


Stay safe

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 06, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.