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.