10 Best Things to Do on Catalina Island This Summer

Just off the coast of California lie the Channel Islands. The most popular of the chain is the stunningly beautiful, Catalina Island, just 26 miles from the Los Angeles World Port.  There are so many incredible things to do in Catalina Island. It’s a wonderful place to get away from the crowds in the Southern California. Most of the Channel Islands are remote, rustic and difficult to access as preserved coastal habitat in the Channel Islands National Park. However, staying on Catalina Island is easy. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to enjoy exploring this diverse coastal habitat with easy planning. Read on to discover our Top 10 Best Things to Do on Catalina Island this summer.

Santa Catalina Island (most commonly referred to just as Catalina Island), is best known for its wildlife, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, charming coastal towns, and Mt. Orizaba, its highest peak. There are two main resort towns on the island. The more rustic town of Two Harbors is situated at The Isthmus (where the island pinches together). And then there’s the quaint and historic town of Avalon near the island’s east end.  In Avalon, you’ll find an incredible “Select Registry” property:  the Avalon Hotel on Catalina Island. Read more about the “10 Best Things to Do on Catalina Island this Summer” at the Select Registry Blog, referenced in the previous link. Or see our list below.

Take a morning stroll along the Via de Casino which skirts tranquil Avalon Harbor.


Even if you have visited this charming, island oasis before, you still have plenty of things to check off your bucket list on Catalina Island. Whether your adventure leads you to over the land, under the sea or through the air, we have no doubt you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in this incredible place.

The following is a diverse list of things to do in Catalina Island this summer. Let it inspire you to venture out to this island paradise, just 26 miles across the sea. Santa Catalina is the place to be.

  1. Scuba Diving – One of the most popular things to do in Catalina Island. Scuba dive or snorkel at Casino Point Dive Park , Lover’s Cove or one of the other many Marine Protected Areas off the coast of Catalina Island.  It’s considered one of the best diving locations in California.
  2. Boat Tours – If you’d rather stay on top of the water, there are a number of great boat tours off the coast of Catalina Island.  Whether it’s chasing dolphins, fishing, or checking out a sea lion rookery, Catalina’s got it.
  3. Shopping – The historic downtown of Avalon hosts many quaint stores from kitschy to sheik.  Make sure to look out for the famous Catalina Pottery and iconic Catalina Tile patterns.
  4. Hiking – Some of the best hiking trails in California are on Catalina Island. Popular trails include the 38.5-mile Trans-Catalina Trail that transects the length of the island. The East End Loop Trail, the Hermit Gulch Trail, the Garden to Sky Trail, as well as the trail to the top of Mt. Orizaba are other popular hikes. Before you start hiking, make sure you have the required Hiking Permits, which are free to get.
  5. Parasailing – Enjoy some of the same views you’ll get while hiking without all the sweaty exhaustion when you take a parasailing adventure over the water.
  6. Aerial Adventures – Get your adrenaline pumping by taking a spectacular zip-lining ride above the Descanso Canyon.  Not only is it the first zipline in the LA area, but it also happens to be the most scenic. Descanso Canyon also boasts an Aerial Adventure, high ropes, challenge course.
  7. Watersports – Hit the water for a relaxing afternoon of kayaking or standup paddle boarding.  In total, there are 52 miles of shoreline, making this is one of the most popular things to do in Catalina Island. Check out your own little run-about from Joe’s Rent-A-Boat and plan your own adventure. Or enjoy a guided tour from a local outfitter. Maybe a high-octane Jet Ski is more your speed.
  8. Beaches – One of our favorite things to do in Catalina Island – spending a day at one of its many beaches. Public beaches near Avalon include South Beach, Middle Beach, and Step Beach. During the summer months, there is a lifeguard on duty. You can also access the private beach at Descanso Beach Club. Walk out to Lover’s Cove or even out to Pebbly Beach (where the locals like to hang).
  9. Inland Tours – One of the surprisingly fun things to do on this playground surrounded by ocean is to explore it’s rugged interior. Popular tours include the Bison Expedition and the Ridgetop Eco Adventure. Additionally, the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy will give you detailed information about the island’s flora, fauna, geology and natural history on their Eco Jeep Tour.
  10. Two Harbors – Take a day trip on The Cyclone shuttle boat up to the remote, rustic village of Two Harbors near the west end of the island. Once there, head to the Dive & Recreation Center, where you can rent mountain bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel gear, and more to explore Catalina’s Isthmus.

The Avalon Hotel on Catalina Island – Part of the Select Registry Family

The Avalon Hotel, built in 1925, features Craftsman-style architecture in a modern setting. It’s décor features unique artwork and hand-crafted hardwoods. Remodeled in 2003, its 15 rooms offer garden, balcony with partial ocean views, and full ocean view rooms. Its rooftop terrace commands panoramic vistas of the harbor and makes an ideal setting for a small wedding. Furthermore, it can accommodate up to 35 people. This makes it ideal to host a multi-family or corporate event with full rental of the hotel. This quaint inn serves a complimentary breakfast each morning on the garden patio. The patio features a fire pit, secluded seating, intricate landscaping, and a Koi Pond with fountain. View these amenities in this Photo Gallery. After your comfortable, luxurious stay at The Avalon Hotel, you may just add it to your Top 10 Things to Do on Catalina Island this summer.

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The lobby of The Avalon Hotel decorated in rich, hardwood details that evoke the Arts and Crafts era of design and Craftsman architectural style homes.

For other destination and getaway ideas in California, “Stay Select” this summer. Explore other Select Registry hotels today!

 -This story is excerpted and edited from a blog post by Select Registry