Santa Catalina Island

An adventurous journey with 10+ mile hikes
Driving to and sleeping at a campground
Places we've visited and fallen in love with

Ocean kayaking and bison spotting at Santa Catalina Island

Ocean kayaking and bison spotting at Santa Catalina Island

Ocean kayaking and bison spotting at Santa Catalina Island

Ocean kayaking and bison spotting at Santa Catalina Island

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Last updated
May 24, 2024

Trip · 3-day camping trip

For · Teens and experienced campers

Vibe · Challenging yet fun

Reservations · Yes, book a campsite at Two Harbors Campground and ferry tickets from Catalina Express

Drive · 30 minute drive from LA and a 1.5 hour ferry ride

Ideal dates · October to March (for the off-season and cooler weather)

Pets · Not allowed on the island

Santa Catalina Island's white sand beaches and sparkling ocean views are only a 90-minute ferry ride from Southern CA. Once you arrive at Avalon, the island's main hub, or Two Harbors, the more remote option, you can go kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling, and sign up for adventures like a zip line eco tour, a 32-foot climbing wall, or a seasonal falconry experience. Two Harbors Campground even has a fee-based firewood, grocery, and camping gear rental and delivery service so you can swank it up or DIY.

Official Visit Catalina Island Website

Map of Catalina Island Hiking Trails

Directions to San Pedro Ferry Terminal

Main image credit: N/A

Stuff to know

  • If you're not camping, reserve a free day-use hiking permit online from the Catalina Island Conservancy
  • Two Harbors is the only campground on the island without food storage boxes, so store your food and trash in sealable containers to keep the birds and critters away!
  • There are about 150 bison roaming around the island. Watch them from afar, and learn how to stay safe when you spot one
  • Stay near camp after dark because night hiking is prohibited
  • Overnight parking at San Pedro ferry terminal is $20 a day per vehicle
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Two Harbors

Where to camp

Two Harbors Campground

Each campsite comes with a:

  • Picnic table
  • Fire ring and bbq ring
  • Space for up to 8 to 12 people

There are five campgrounds on Catalina Island: Hermit Gulch (near Avalon), Two Harbors, Little Harbor, Black Jack, and Parson's Landing, and eight boat-in campsites accessible only via boat or kayak. Unlike most parks, Catalina Island charges a nightly camping fee per adult or child so it's important to know exactly how many people are camping in your group. Two Harbors Campground is about a steepish, half-mile walk from the ferry landing. The majority of its campsites have stunning ocean views. There are restrooms, coin-operated showers, a restaurant, and a general store where you can rent camping gear, buy hot pizza, and get ice delivered to your campsite.

Check-in: After 2 PM · Check-out: Before 11 AM

Nightly Rate: $27 to $30

Two Harbors Campground
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Itinerary

Day One

Two Harbors Campground
Two Harbors Campground

Catch an afternoon Catalina Express Ferry from San Pedro to Two Harbors

  • Located at Berth 95 in San Pedro (at Swinford and Harbor Boulevard)
  • The only direct ferry to Two Harbors is from San Pedro, otherwise you'll have to stop at Avalon
  • Reserve a round-trip adult ticket for $76. It's a 75-minute ferry ride.
  • Each passenger can bring up to 2 pieces of luggage no more than 50 lbs each
  • Look out for dolphin pods and whale sightings during your ferry ride!

Check in and set up camp at Two Harbors Campground

  • Set up camp, wander around the campground, and relax
  • Swing by the Two Harbors General Store to pick up any last-minute essentials. Store prices are a bit more expensive on the island, but it's convenient!
  • General Store Hours: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM · Tuesday and Thursday: 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM · Friday and Saturday: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Rent a kayak from Two Harbors Dive and Recreation Center and explore the island by sea

  • The rental shop is open Fridays to Sundays from 10 AM to 3 PM
  • They offer hourly and half-day rentals for single and double kayaks
  • If kayaking isn't your thing, they also offer snorkeling packages, mountain bikes, scuba gear and more!

Return to camp, cook up dinner, and treat yo'self to some s'mores

  • Enjoy your first night on Catalina Island!
Since 1975, the Catalina Island Conservancy, a nonprofit, has been managing Santa Catalina Island

Day Two

Parson's Landing on Catalina Island
Parsons Landing on Catalina Island

Make brekkie and hike to Goat Whisper and Lion’s Head Trail

  • It's a 6.4-mile moderate loop hike with 1,486 feet of elevation gain
  • Bring more than 2 liters of water because there aren't any spots to resupply your water along this hike.
  • Parts of the hike can be fairly exposed so bring your sunscreen and shades too!  
  • Keep an eye out for bison on this trail because they like to roam in the interior of the island. If you spot one, don't feed or pet it!
  • Take a quick detour to Lion’s Head for some great views

Enjoy an ocean view lunch at Lion’s Head Point

  • Nosh on your favorite snacks and enjoy lunch next to the beach

Hike back to camp and chilllllll

Make dinner, dessert, and hang around the campfire

  • Enjoy your last night at Santa Catalina Island
Thousands of years ago, the Tongva tribe called the island Pimu, and referred to themselves as the Pimugnans

Day Three

Upper Ballast Point on Catalina Island
Upper Ballast Point on Catalina Island. Credit: AllTrails

Hike to Upper Ballast Point for a sunrise hike

  • It's a 4-mile round-trip hike with 1,023 feet of elevation gain from Two Harbors.
  • From the top you'll be able to see a view of both harbors
  • Bring your headlamp, water bottle, dress warmly, and download an offline trail map to stay on track while hiking before sunrise.

Return to camp for brekkie and check out by 11 AM 

  • Cook up brekkie and pick up any pieces of litter around camp

Catch the ferry back to San Pedro Harbor

Spanish explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, arrived on the island on the eve of Saint Catherine's day (Nov. 24) in 1602, and renamed the island in the saint's honor
June 1, 2024

Bewilder at LAist Super-Fun Saturday

Make wildflower seed bombs with Bezzi the Yeti at LAist's Super Fun Saturday

Event in 2 days

Bewilder Basecamp: Spooky Wonders

Join Bezzi the Yeti on her first spooky camping adventure!

Shop curated gear

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Bezzi's Pick
$399.95

NEMO 4-person Aurora Highrise

This colorful tent has plenty of standing room, is easy to set up, and pack out!

Bezzi's Pick
$249.95

NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair

Lean back, and we mean all the way back, in this comfy camp chair. You'll never want to sit up.

Bezzi's Pick
$159.95

NEMO Moonlander Camp Table

We can confirm that these camp tables withstand hot bevvies and rock collections.

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Meal and snack ideas

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Breakfast

Food For The Sole Blueberry Banana Crunch

Gluten Free • Vegan

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Breakfast

Packit Gourmet Diner Deluxe Eggs with Sausage

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Dessert

Campfire cinnamon roll ups

Vegetarian

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Snack

Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries

Vegetarian

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Angie's Boom Chicka Pop

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce

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Lunch

Summer rolls with almond butter satay

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Dinner

Dan dan noodles

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Lunch

Asian chicken lettuce wraps

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Dinner

Pho ramen

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Curry ramen

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Peanut butter cheesecake overnight oats

Vegetarian

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