Located a mere 22 miles off of Southern California’s coast, Catalina Island clear blue waters and Mediterranean climate have long made it a favorite for weekend getaways and day trips among both locals and area visitors.
Part of Los Angeles County, the captivating island also fulfills some of post-COVID-19 vacationers’ top requirements, including that their destination be close-to-home and offer extensive access to the great outdoors. Luckily, Catalina Island has just reopened to leisure travelers and is easily reached through less than an hour’s travel by Catalina Express’ fleet of high-speed ferries.
Hotels, vacation rentals, campgrounds, restaurants (for carry-out and limited-capacity dining), shops and many visitor-favorite activities have reopened in accordance with current County of Los Angeles guidelines, which include certain mask-wearing and social-distancing requirements, as well as heightened cleaning and disinfection protocols.
And, Catalina Express recently beefed up its schedule of departures sailing out of Southern California’s Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point harbors. Catalina Express operates up to 30 departures daily and provides year-round service from its three mainland ports to the docks in Avalon and Two Harbors. Its purpose-designed and -constructed vessels feature comfortable, airline-style, as well as grouped table, seating aboard.
An outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination, Catalina Island is perennially sough-after thanks its wide-open spaces, diverse terrain, pristine sands and abundance of native wildlife. Visitors can explore the island’s natural splendor by foot, bike or golf cart, and enjoy beaches, hiking trails, golf courses and other land- and water-based activities, including paddle-boarding, kayaking and parasailing in a single visit.
Tourists can soak up some culture in the laid-back beach town of Avalon, which, while quiet and quaint, is also chock full of places to eat, drink and shop. Although, some of the most memorable Catalina experiences involve camping out-of-doors, thanks to year-round temperate weather. The humble island is home to some unique plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth.
Campers looking to get an immersive experience of the island’s unique outdoor setting might consider:
Hermit Gulch: Perfect for families and the somewhat uninitiated, Hermit Gulch Campground is ideally situated in Avalon Canyon and offers incredible views of the surrounding hills. It offers traditional tent sites or tent cabins, with the town of Avalon being quite as close by as Hermit Gulch Trail and other intriguing hiking paths.
Two Harbors: On the west end of the island, Two Harbors’ rustic campground offers traditional tent sites and tent cabins only a short distance away from Two Harbors Village and sits close by the beach. It’s a convenient spot from which to enjoy scenic trails and hiking, as well as water sports like kayaking and paddle-boarding. In light of COVID-19, Catalina Island Company is currently delivering food and drink orders from Harbor Reef Restaurant and West End Galley to the campground without delivery fees, and guests can have groceries delivered from Two Harbors General Store.
For more primitive or remote camping styles, Catalina Island Company also operates some secluded campsites, located at Parsons Landing, Little Harbor and Black Jack, which are accessible mainly via moderate or even difficult hikes.
—The beach campground at Parsons Landing contains eight primitive sites that enable campers to wake up to the sound of the ocean.
—The only campground situated on the so-called “back” side of Catalina, Little Harbor encompasses 25 unique campsites close to a beautiful, sandy beach.
—The Black Jack campground offers eleven sites nestled among pine and eucalyptus groves, overlooking sweeping vistas over a rolling landscape.
—Another nine unique coastal campsites boast stunning views and unspoiled beaches, but can be accessed only by boat.
For more information, visit lovecatalina.com.
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