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Catalina Island

Catalina Island is just 22 miles off the coast of L.A., but it feels like a different world. Life here goes on at a slower pace and the island entices visitors with its rugged nature and crystal-clear water.

The island has two towns, one bigger one, Avalon, and one very small one, Two Harbors. The majority of the island is protected and maintained by the Catalina Island Conservancy. There are many ways to explore the island’s natural beauty. The Skyline Drive Tour, for example, takes you through ten miles of island wilderness on a 1950s Fixible Bus. Make sure to bring a camera to capture the stunning views of the Pacific, quiet coves, and deep canyons. You might even catch a glimpse of one of the 150 wild bison that live on the island.

For those a bit more adventurous there are miles of back roads and trails with great views of rolling hills and the ocean. Just make sure to pick up a mandatory free hiking permit from the Conservancy House in Avalon. And if you’re willing to splurge, check out the Heli-Hiking/Biking packages and let a helicopter transport you to the island’s rugged interior for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

And of course Catalina Island offers endless water adventures. It is known as the best spot in California for snorkeling and SCUBA diving. A popular site for this is in Avalon, just next to Casino Point. There are steps for easy access and the area is protected from heavy surf and waves. There is a rental shop right next to the entry point. And if you don’t really want to get wet, explore the sea sites from a semi-submersible vessel with the Undersea Expedition.

Reservations are recommended for the ferry leaving from Dana Point, Long Beach, and San Pedro, and required for the ferry from Newport Beach.

Written by AlocatoNot from stock or prompts


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Things to Do & See

Here are some of the best things to do in Catalina Island. Add them to your trip and we'll hold on to them in your Travelog. Look for to find free stuff.

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The Trans-Catalina Trail

The Trans-Catalina Trail stretches 37.2 miles from the East End to the West End. It offers spectacular views of the island's rugged "interior" and the Pacific. Tackle just a portion of it or the whole thing over several days. Just make sure to get a free hiking permit before you set out.

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Behind the Scenes Casino Tour

The Casino was the tallest building in L.A. County at the time of its construction. It is a working theater, ballroom, and concert hall and it epitomizes the glamorous side of Catalina Island. Tour the backstage areas that have hosted the likes of Cary Grant and Benny Goodman.

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Undersea Expedition

Experience Catalina's abundant marine life from these semi-submersible vessels. Large portholes 5 feet under water let you come face to face with bright orange garibaldi, urchins, rockfish, bat rays, and many more. Advance reservations are recommended.

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Dolphin Quest

Zoom out into the Catalina Channel in a high-speed Ribcraft on this tour that seeks out the dolphins living off the island's coast.

Top-Reviewed Restaurants

You're probably going to get hungry while you're there, but what's good in the area?

We've asked our friends at Yelp to keep us updated on what's cool and tasty, and they sent over their top-rated Catalina Island eats. Add some to your trip and we'll store them for you.

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