Surrounded by lovely Pacific Ocean waters, Catalina Island is part of the Channel Islands archipelago off the California coast, situated 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. Catalina Island boasts numerous attractions such as a spectacular coastline, kelp forests teeming with sea creatures, hillsides with breathtaking views, and wonderfully inviting rustic towns. Things to do near many Catalina Island vacation rentals include exploring underwater wonderlands, cycling on scenic trails, visiting a renowned museum, and golfing at a legendary course. Here are the top 10 things to do while vacationing on Catalina Island.
1. Glass Bottom Boat Voyage
The famous kelp forest at Lover’s Cove State Marine Conservation Area teems with fish and other marine animals, and Catalina Tours out of Avalon offers you an opportunity to see this fascinating undersea spectacle from close up on its Glass Bottom Boat Voyage. The entire central length of the boat is comprised of glass windows, and seats all around the side ensure you a magnificent view of the sea floor gardens and their inhabitants. Watch for rockfish, bat rays, kelp bass, octopi, and many other creatures that live on the waving strands of kelp, the reef, and the rocks.
2. Catalina Island Golf Course
Located in a spectacularly beautiful location at the edge of the town of Avalon, the Catalina Island Golf Course is the oldest operating golf course in the western United States. Tee off in a lovely canyon surrounded by verdant hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The nine holes have two sets of tees so you can expand your game to 18 holes if you want. In this wondrous natural setting, you might even catch glimpses of deer, island foxes, and high flying hawks.
3. Catalina Museum
The renowned Catalina Museum in Avalon offers a fascinating look at the history and culture of this enigmatic island. The permanent History of Catalina Island exhibit highlights collections of artifacts from archeological digs on the island, island life from the 1880s to the present, what role the island played in World War II, and famous celebrities who have visited or lived on the island. The museum’s spacious and beautiful building is designed to resemble a Spanish mission, and lovely gardens and an open rooftop inspire contemplative leisurely strolls.
4. Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden
William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing gum magnate, at one time owned most of Catalina Island, and a memorial built in his honor surrounded by lovely gardens is walking distance from the town of Avalon. Take a ride up the hill on the Catalina Island Trolley, a picturesque local bus, to this popular attraction. The lovely gardens highlight rare plants endemic to the Channel Islands. The tall monument, set on the garden’s highest point, offers an unforgettable view of Avalon Harbor, the Catalina coastline, and the California mainland.
5. Kayak Eco-Tours
Kayaking is the perfect way to explore the beaches, secluded coves, and breathtaking cliffs around the Catalina Island coast. Descanso Beach Ocean Sports near Avalon rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to aid your exploration. The company’s eco-tours provide safe passage with experienced guides to prime locations where you can view harbor seals, dolphins, sea lions, and leopard sharks. Kids are welcome, and the company supplies all necessary gear, including windbreakers and water sandals.
6. Metropole Market Place
Metropole Market Place in Avalon is a great place to go to enjoy shopping and other fun activities. This charming village is modeled after a typical French Quarter and features cobblestone streets, bubbling fountains, elegant boutiques, and inviting restaurants. Browse the shops for jewelry, clothing, gifts, and holistic products. Things to do include miniature bowling, gaming at a classic arcade, and enjoying a relaxing full massage at the Day Spa.
7. Bike Catalina
Cycling is a terrific way to explore the scenic roads and trails of Catalina Island, and Bike Catalina makes it easier by offering self-guided and guided tour routes so you can make the most of the experience. The Ridge Route to Avalon takes you on a 10-mile route along the ridges of the hills overlooking the city, where you have panoramic views of both sides of the island. The Two Harbors Land and Sea Experience takes you all the way across the island to the town of Two Harbors, where you board a boat for the relaxing ride back.
8. Two Harbors Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving Magazine rates the waters off Two Harbors on the north side of Catalina Island as among the best and healthiest marine environments for scuba diving in the world. Two Harbors Dive and Recreation Center provides rental equipment, lessons for beginners, and tours of the local waters. You can take a full certification course, or get your feet wet with classroom instruction and a supervised open water dive with the Discover Scuba Diving Program.
9. Catalina Island Zip Line Tour
The Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour begins in the hills above Avalon. From 600 feet above sea level at the top of Descanso Canyon, you descend on five separate zip lines that propel you at speeds up to 30 miles an hour 300 feet above the canyon floor. Along the way, you stop at various eco-stations, where guides offer presentations highlighting the history and wildlife of the zones through which you pass. It’s an amazing and unforgettable experience for the adventurous.
10. Parasail Catalina
Parasailing appears to be extreme, but in the hands of the experienced guides at California Parasail Catalina, it’s a safe and exciting activity for the whole family. You take off and land from the boat deck, and you don’t even need to get your feet wet if you don’t want to. If you want to go as a group, the harnesses can handle up to three people together.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Catalina Island vacation rentals on Tripping.com.