Santa Catalina Island – part of Los Angeles County.
about 1 hour ferry ride from Long Beach Port
There is only 1 main town center called Avalon.
1) Wrigley Casino is the circular building to the north of Avalon. It used to be a casino, but now it is more of a museum. The upper level of the building feature large circular ballroom, and the lower level is the a movie theater! You can go watch the latest film here.
2) Marilyn Monroe used to live on Catalina Island. Her house is located at 310 Metropole Avenue.
3) There are wild bisons living on the island. They were left there from a Hollywood movie production in the 1920’s.
4) Scenic and wonderful for multi-day hike.
To hike or not to hike in Santa Catalina Island???
I highly recommend doing overnight hikes. There’s a well mapped trail, Trans Catalina Trail, that will lead you through hills to well maintained campsites. However, if you’re not interested in hiking, the “must go & hang out spot” called the Descanso Beach Club. It’s a private beach near Avalon that is open the the public with a fee of 2 dollars.
I took a ferry to Two Harbor. Then spent the first day on the Trans Catalina Trail to Parson’s Landing, which is towards the north end of the island. This took around 3.5 hours.
2nd day: hiked from Parson’s Landing to Little Harbor. This took about 7 hours.
3rd day: Little Harbor to Black Jack campground with a stop over at the Catalina Airport. This took about 7 hours.
4th day: Black Jack to Avalon. This took about 4.5 hours.
The best time to go is January – March. This is the least dry period, where the mountains and hills are green from December’s rain instead of brown. However, be sure to check the weather report to avoid rain.
- Do wear appropriate hiking shoes, because the hike through most part of Trans-Catalina trail is no joke!
- When reserving campgrounds, note if the campground provides water or not. If there’s no water, you can pay extra for water to be delivered to you. (You should, so you don’t have to carry water to the campsite.)
- Do look for little island foxes. They come out during dusk.
- Do visit the only airport in Catalina Island, Airport In The Sky. It provides the info about the history of the island.
- Definitely hike from Two Harbors to Little Harbor. It’s around 4.5 hrs hike through the Trans-Catalina trail. You will definitely run into a few wild Buffalo.
- Stay over night at the Little Harbor Camp Ground. It’s clean, equipped with drinking water, and it’s by the beach!
- If you’re planning to stay in Avalon, do stay at Snug Harbor Inn, a boutique hotel that is right in the heart of Avalon. The hotel offers complementary evening wine & cheese. Plus, breakfast includes fresh baked banana walnut bread, which will be delivered to your room!
- Do eat wild cactus fruit. However, be careful when picking it off the cactus tree. Be sure to clean the thorns off the fruit before digging in.
- Don’t go hiking in the summer without extra water!
- Don’t go hiking without a map. You can ask for one from the Catalina Conservancy Office (1 office in Two Harbors & another in Avalon). Or you can buy a map at the office, too. I will try to upload my copy of the map soon!
- Don’t plan on going hiking without checking the weather. You do not want to be stuck in the rain. Also, keep in mind that the trail might not be in good dry condition a day after heavy rain. So plan around the weather.
- Don’t substitute the road as trail, especially down hill, because your knees are going to hurt the next day.
- Don’t buy your ferry tickets if you’re planning to stay at a hotel in Avalon. Most hotels offer the ferry tickets at a cheaper price than buying them directly through Catalina Express.
Here are your resources to having a blast at Catalina:
- Island maps, info, campsite reservation, camp entrance fee: http://www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?s=visit&p=places_to_see
- I recommend this boutique hotel: http://www.snugharborinn.com/ If you decide to stay here, ask them for a package deal, where the room includes the round trip ferry tickets.
- Weather report at Wunderground site: http://www.wunderground.com/US/CA/Avalon.html
- For buying tickets and updated pricing: www.catalinaexpress.com