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23 Must Do Activities on Catalina Island

Make 2023 the year that you complete your Catalina bucket list. There are so many activities to do on the Island that will keep you coming back. Here is a sampling of 23 experiences to start your Catalina adventure.

a bedroom with a large bed in a room

1. Look for Bison in the Wild

A herd of 14 bison was brought over to Catalina Island in 1924 for the filming of a movie and never left. Today, there are over 100 that call Catalina home. To view the bison, the best way is on the Catalina Island Conservancy Eco Tour. You will learn all about the Island’s unique eco-system and what makes this herd of bison so unique.

2. Tour the historic Casino Ballroom

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.

3. Try a fun cocktail and take home a straw hat

One of Catalina’s many signature cocktails is the Wiki Wacker made at Luau Larry’s. Enjoy the great atmosphere and delicious food while sipping on this yummy drink. This tropical cocktail comes with a straw hat to complete your island outfit. Just be warned, this drink packs a punch.

a group of people eating at a beach

4. Camp by the Beach

Stargaze and fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing while camping beachside on Catalina Island. This unique experience is a must do for any outdoor enthusiast. Catalina Island has beachside campsites in Two Harbors as well remote sites that can be reached by kayak or hiking.

5. Have a Buffalo Milk

The most famous cocktail on Catalina Island is the Buffalo Milk. Most restaurants on the Island have their own twist on this delicious drink. To try the original version, visit the Harbor Reef Restaurant 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.

6. Explore the Island’s Kelp Forests

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.

a group of people swimming in a body of water

7. Kayaking Adventure

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 rental company for directions for a nice spot to kayak.

8. Explore underwater without getting wet

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.

9. Go Fishing

Catalina Island has a great sportfishing history and you can be a part of it on your next visit. No matter your fishing expertise, you can find a fishing adventure tailored just for you. From a relaxing day of fishing on the Green Pier to chartering a vessel with a knowledgeable guide, you will have a story to tell when you get home.

a large building

10. Learn Catalina History

The Catalina Museum for Art & History is the 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 current Tall Tiki Tales exhibit.

11. Fore!

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 Gardens, which has been a favorite activity for over 50 years.

12. 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 ops. Drive around cascading canyons and atop scenic hillsides while enjoying the breathtaking views of Avalon and beyond.

a parachute in the water

13. Soar through the sky

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.

14. Relax at a Spa

Getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax on an island paradise. What better way to recharge your mind, body and soul than with a spa treatment. Catalina Island has a variety of spas that will be provide the perfect relaxation moment.

15. Retail Therapy

Bringing home great gifts and souvenirs is always a highlight of any vacation. Catalina Island will not let you down with its unique shops and boutiques. You will be able to find a special treasure that will remind you of your trip for years to come.

16. Zip through the trees

Island vacations are not just for relaxation. Thrilling adventures can also be found. The Zip Line Eco Tour takes you 600’ above Descanso Canyon where you’ll enjoy sweeping ocean views as you zigzag down on five separate lines at speeds approaching 35 mph.

a group of people standing in a kitchen

17. Make your own tile

Walking around town you will notice the beautiful tile that is featured all over Avalon. These tiles are unique to Catalina and you can get in on the action. At the Catalina Tile Experience, you can learn the history of tile and make your own tile in the process. There is even an exhibit that you can view during your lesson.

18. 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 and the views of Avalon are absolutely breathtaking.

a person sitting on a bench

19. Sip a cocktail on the beach

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.

20. Aerial Adventure

The Catalina Aerial Adventure is a fun and challenging outdoor experience where you will climb, swing and crawl through a series of challenging obstacles suspended in a grove of towering eucalyptus. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so everyone can conquer one of the courses.

21. Conquer the Trans-Catalina Trail

Catalina is popular place to hike and has so many trails for all levels of hikers but for those who want to really challenge their endurance try the Trans-Catalina Trail. This hike is 38.5 miles long and typically takes 4 days to complete. Along the way you will experience the Islands and rustic beauty and it catch a glimpse of its wildlife.

22. Jet skiing

Rent a jet ski and race around the ocean while enjoying the rustic Catalina landscape. This thrilling ride a must do when visiting Catalina Island.

a car parked on a beach near a body of water

23. Catch of the Day

When visiting an island, it’s definitely the time to sample the local seafood and Catalina Island is no exception. Many of the restaurants on the island feature locally caught seafood, like NDMK Fish House, Bluewater Grill and the Lobster Trap.

Let this list spark your curiosity of all the great things that Catalina Island has to offer and propel you to plan you get Island getaway. Visit us at to start planning today.

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