Santa Catalina Island has many options for overnight travelers from hotels and bed and breakfasts to vacation rentals and cottages. Many of us want to experience the outdoors while we are there and camping offers the best way to do that.
The main port city of Avalon has a campground just up the hill at Hermit Gulch and the west-end town of Two Harbors has a campground called Two Harbors Campground which is a short walk away at Little Fisherman’s Beach. Farther afield is the campground at Little Harbor which can be reached via the Safari Bus from either town.
Primitive camp sites are also available. Two that can be reached by hiking or mountain biking include Black Jack Campground at over 1500 feet on the shoulder of Catalina’s highest peak, Mt. Orizaba, and Parsons Landing Campground which is at sea level next to a secluded beach on the west end of the island.
Boat-in camping is probably the most adventurous, but also the most rewarding way to stay on Catalina. The Catalina Island Conservancy has set aside nine beaches on the north shore (leeside) of the island for this use. Since none of these beaches have access from land, they require either a sea kayak or boat to get there. Boat operators are available in Avalon and can drop campers off at the beach of their choice. Kayak rentals are available in both towns. Snorkeling is popular at these beaches and in some cases it’s possible to hike above your camp for better views, but watch for cactus, poison oak, and rattlesnakes.
Here are the logistics for boat-in camping:
- A nightly camping fee is required, reservations are recommended
- Must bring in a toilet or carry out all waste
- Must bring in potable water
- Fires are prohibited
- Cooking must be done with camp stoves and self-contained BBQs only
- These are remote spots with little to no shade
- Pitch tents in designated spots above the high tide line (see tide tables)
- Dogs / pets not allowed on beaches per LA County code
- Catalina Island Conservancy rules apply (inquire when you reserve)
- Rangers visit beaches daily to check permits and make sure everyone is ok
- The Catalina Island Company website allows campsite reservations.
Getting to Catalina Island is easy. Catalina Express high-speed boats head here daily from Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Dana Point.
Beaches on this map
Willow Cove Beach is a boat-in campground on the northeast shore of Catalina Island. Boating and sea kayaking are your only options as there are no roads or official trails […]
Long Point Beach is a boat-in beach and campground on Catalina Island. This beach faces northeast and is shaded by a high rock wall called Long Point. The only way […]
Italian Gardens is a boat-in campground on the northeast shore of Catalina Island. There are three separate beaches in this cove, each with room for camping. No roads or trails […]
Goat Harbor Beach on Santa Catalina Island is a boat-in only camping spot. Goat Harbor is located on the northeast side of the island about mid-way between the towns of […]
Cabrillo Harbor Beach on Catalina Island is a boat-in campground. Boats and kayaks are the only option as Catalina’s trails and roads don’t lead here. Sea kayaks can be rented […]
Gibraltar Beach on Catalina Island is a boat-in campground. No roads or trails lead here so it’s only accessible by boat or by kayak. Kayaks can be rented nearby in […]
Lava Wall Beach is a boat-in camping area on the north shore of Catalina Island. The names comes from the rock wall behind the beach that looks like red lava […]
Paradise Cove Beach on Catalina Island is a tiny beach with a boat-in camping space with room for just for one party. The only way to get to the beach […]
Rippers Cove Beach on Catalina Island is a boat-in campground at the base of a gorge called the Valley of Ollas. This small protected cove is the real Empire Landing […]
Parsons Landing, a popular backcountry camping destination, is on the north side of Catalina Island’s West End. The West End Road leads to Parsons Landing from the small town of […]
Little Harbor is the site of a great sandy beach and one of the best campgrounds on Santa Catalina Island. A bus called the Safari Bus takes campers to Little […]
Hotels on this map
Hermit Gulch Campground is just up the hill from the main port city of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island. They make camping easy at Hermit Gulch. The campground has many […]
The Two Harbors Campground on Catalina Island has unique tent cabins for rent in addition to the standard tent campsites. The campground is right on Little Fishermans Cove Beach where […]
Black Jack is a remote campground in the central mountains of Santa Catalina Island. It’s popular with hikers and backpackers who are crossing the island on the Trans-Catalina Trail. This […]