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22 Catalina Bucket List Experiences

a room filled with furniture and a rug

As we start a new year, it is time to plan a trip to make 2022 extra memorable for any lost adventures or experiences. Discover the hidden gem of Catalina Island with 22 bucket list experiences you will not want to miss out on.a room filled with furniture and a rug

1. Tour the iconic Catalina Casino

Everyone should visit Catalina’s most famous icon at least once. Catalina Island Company offers two different tours of this historic venue: Discover the Casino and Behind the Scenes Casino Tour. These tours take you back in time to the heyday of Big Band music, Old Hollywood and Art Deco design and architecture. Plus, the view from the Casino Ballroom, the largest circular ballroom, is truly breathtaking.

2. View Bison in the wild

Brought over in 1924 to be part of a movie, a herd of bison roam throughout the Island. Today, there are over 100 that call Catalina home. To view the bison, the best way is on an interior tour. You will learn all about the Island’s unique eco-system and what makes this herd of bison so unique. A variety of companies offer tours to the interior and each offer a special twist to their tour.a man standing on a rocky hill

Catalina Island Company

Catalina Island Conservancy

Catalina Taxi & Tours

Catalina Adventure Tours

3. Hike throughout the Island

The Trans-Catalina Trail is the ultimate hiking experience at over 38 miles. The multi-day hike takes you across the whole island where you will encounter beautiful views, local wildlife and beach camping. If you are looking for a little help in planning and maybe haul your gear, Catalina Backcountry provides a variety of camping services, so you can enjoy your hike.

4. View Bison in the wild

Catalina has a Zipline that zips you through Descanso Canyon and a grove of eucalyptus trees to the Descanso Beach Club where you can enjoy a cocktail after your thrilling adventure. The course is made of five separate lines totaling three quarters of a mile at speeds approaching 35mph. This one-of-a-kind experience should be on everyone’s Catalina bucket list. To make planning easier, you can book the Ship and Zip package that includes transportation on Catalina Express as well as the zip line tour.

a close up of a coffee cup

5. Indulge in a Buffalo Milk in Two Harbors

Over 40 years ago, a group of Harbor Reef Restaurant employees came together to create a specialty cocktail that visitors and boaters would remember. The Buffalo Milk was added to the menu and became a staple. Not only did it become popular, bars and restaurants throughout the Island started to make their own versions. Today, the Buffalo Milk is famous for its delicious flavor and continues to be a great cocktail on a hot day.

6. Camp on the Island

With such a range of landscapes, Catalina offers a wide variety of campsites from being right on the beach to right beside a mountain at 1600 feet above sea level. Campers should add this unique destination to their 2022 getaway plans to experience camping on an island.

a train traveling down train tracks near a forest

7. Visit the Wrigley Memorial

Built in between 1933 to 1934 in memory for William Wrigley Jr, this monument is the center piece of the Botanic Garden. The goal of this project was to build with as many local materials as possible including blue flagstone rock on the ramps and terraces from Little Harbor and red roof tiles and colorful handmade glazed tiles from the Catalina Pottery plant. The structure is a sight to behold.

8. Create your own Catalina Tile

Catalina tile and pottery is known for its beauty and exceptionality. At the Catalina Tile Experience, you can learn the history of tile and make your own tile in the process. There is even a little museum that you can view during your lesson.

9. Kayak to a secluded beach

The Island has a beautiful coastline with secluded coves that can only be accessed by kayak. Pack a picnic lunch and rent a kayak to find your own beach for the day. Ask the Kayak rental company for directions for a nice spot to kayak.a man swimming in the water

Descanso Beach Ocean Sports

Joe’s Rent-A-Boat

Wet Spot Rentals

10. Scuba dive in one of Jacques Cousteau’s favorite spots

Catalina is well known in the diving community for the crystal-clear water, pristine kelp forests and fish that will come right up to your mask. There are a variety of dive companies on the Island and the mainland that can help set up a special trip for you and take you to the best dive locations.

11. Sip on a Cocktail with your toes in the sand

Descanso Beach Club is one of the few beaches in California where you can order a cocktail delivered to your lounge chair. You will feel a world away as you enjoy your Buffalo Milk watching the waves and the white sand.

12. Catalina Aerial Adventure

Swing, climb and crawl through the Catalina Aerial Adventure. With various levels, everyone will enjoy this challenging obstacle course through a grove of towering eucalyptus trees regardless of skill or athletic ability.

a small boat in a large body of water

13. Drink a Wiki Wacker and style a straw hat

Another signature Catalina cocktail is the Wiki Wacker made at Luau Larry’s. This tropical cocktail comes with a straw hat to complete your island outfit. Just be warned, this drink packs a punch.

14. See Garibaldi up close on a Glass Bottom Boat or Semi Submarine Tour

If you want to view Catalina’s sea life but are not too keen on diving in, try a Glass Bottom Boat tour or Semi-Submarine excursion. The fish have become familiar with these vessels and come swimming up to them for some fish food.

Catalina Island Company

Catalina Adventure Tours

15. Catch a big one!

Catalina is great place to go fishing with a range of options from a relaxing day on the pier to chartering a vessel with a knowledgeable guide.

16. Volunteer with Catalina Island Conservancy

Want to make a difference your next getaway? Catalina Island Conservancy has special programs that allow you to help in their mission to protect and conserve Catalina while also learning about the eco-system of the Island.a person standing on a golf course

17. Take a Step Back in Time

The Catalina Museum for Art & History is a record keeper of the Island’s history from various movies filmed on Catalina to becoming a training facility during WWII. Learn how Catalina played an integral role in American history or view the various visiting exhibits such as the upcoming Norman Rockwell exhibit and the current Titanic exhibit.

18. Hit a Hole in One

The oldest operating golf course west of the Mississippi is on Catalina Island. This nine-hole course has been played by a variety of the golf professionals like Craig Stadler, Corey Pavin and Tiger Woods. If you are more into mini golf, check out the Golf Garden, which has been a favorite activity for over 50 years.

19. Drive golf cart

In Catalina, no car is needed, instead explore town in your own golf cart. Catalina Island Golf Cart Rentals provides a map that highlights a route to view all the best photo opps. Drive around cascading canyons and atop scenic hillsides while enjoying the breathtaking views of Avalon and beyond.

20. Soar with the Birds

Parasailing on Catalina is a very unique experience with an outstanding view of the entire Island as you soar 600 to 800’ in the air. For an extra thrill, you can ask the captain to dip your feet in the water.a person standing next to a palm tree

Island Water Charters

Parasail Catalina

21.Relax a bit with a Spa Treatment

What better way to recharge the mind, body and soul than a relaxing spa treatment? Catalina Island has a variety of spas to visit that offer a range of treatments, some with an Island twist.

22. Retail therapy

Catalina is known for the beautiful tile work and pottery that is displayed throughout the Island. While searching a piece to take home, explore the boutique shops and galleries that showcase local artists for other treasures.

As you plan your Catalina getaway to remember, take time to enjoy everything this beautiful destination has to offer.

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