Things To Do on Catalina Island: 2-Day Itinerary

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Catalina Island: 2-Day Itinerary

We might not be able to travel to Hawaii or Italy right now, but I may have a quick solution — Catalina Island! It’s only 1 hour away from LA by boat, and is the closest thing to paradise! 

Because of COVID, I’ve been conquering more local adventures — and though travel is slowly picking up, you might still wonder what places are currently available to travel to that are SAFE. I am happy to say, Catalina Island is open for visitors. and taking all of the precautions! So if you’re local or from out of town, add this to your “places to visit now” list.

** Please note: While Catalina Island is open for visitors, new COVID-19 safety measures have been implemented throughout your visit. **

  • You must wear a mask AL ALL TIMES
  • Guests are advised to practice physical distancing
  • Hand sanitizers are placed at key guest entrances and contact areas

    For more info, click here.

I had the opportunity last month to do a quick 2-day getaway with a full itinerary of things to do and places to eat! So if you’re looking to get away right now or anytime soon, keep reading!

Day 1:

Arrival and Transportation

Catalina Express

Getting to Catalina Island is fast and easy. It takes only one hour via a high-speed ferry or 15 minutes via helicopter to get you to paradise. There are two companies (Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer) that offer boat transportation from the Southern California cities of Long Beach, San Pedro, Dana Point, and Newport Beach to both Avalon and Two Harbors.

For this trip, my friend and I got there via boat using the Catalina Express. We left from Long Beach Harbor and the total for a round trip costs $74.50 for one adult. View more info here.

We left by 7 AM to get full use of the day.

Tips:

  • Make sure you arrive at least 30-45 minutes prior to departure to get situated.
  • Parking is available at $19 / day and must be paid for upon departure.
  • You must bring a face covering as it is required at all times in the terminal and on the vessel.
  • If you plan on sitting outside, make sure you layer up or bring a jacket, as it gets pretty chilly on the boat!

Accommodation

We stayed at the Hotel Atwater, which was about a 10-minute walk from the harbor and is centrally located in the heart of Avalon.

Hotel Atwater has been around since 1920 but recently just renovated their lodging with a fresh design and modern amenities.

Tours

UNDERSEA EXPEDITION

We started our trip with some underwater fun! The Undersea Expedition is for anyone who isn’t comfortable swimming in the water (like myself) or just wants to explore the undersea gardens around Catalina Island while staying completely dry. 

In this 45-minute tour, you get the full experience of snorkeling or scuba diving in the safety of the submarine. You get to see a variety of plant and animal life, including California’s bright orange garibaldi.

It was a cool experience and I highly recommend it!

Tickets are $39.95 for adults and $37.95 for children, seniors, and veterans & active military. Book here.

Lunch

DESCANSO BEACH CLUB

When visiting Catalina Island, you must stop by their Descanso Beach Club – it is only a short walk or bike ride past the historic Catalina Casino. We came here for lunch right after and enjoyed a variety of dishes from their menu: Tricia’s Nachos, Thai Sweet Chili Wings, and the Chef Kapo’s Poke Bowl. We also ordered some drinks to go with it, Cabana Colada and Dragonberry Mojito — perfect for a nice, sunny day!

Descanso Beach Club

Price: $$
Open for lunch daily: 11 AM-5 PM
Open for dinner Fri + Sat: 5 PM-8PM
View the full menu here.
Recommendations and Tips: It gets CROWDED. All seating is on a first-come. first-serve basis. If you want a cabana and/or a beach lounge chair, I recommend you make reservations in advance! Wear your swimsuit underneath and bring a towel + sunscreen if you plan on laying out!

Activities

HIKING

Catalina Island Views

If you really want to explore more of the beautiful Catalina Island — I recommend going on a hike! With more than 165 miles of trails, from easy to difficult, there is something for everyone!

That evening, we did the Catalina Chimes Tower Trail, which was a moderate hike. I really enjoyed this hike as it was not very hard but super scenic!

Check out the full hike/trail list here.

Dinner

ANTONIO’S PIZZERIA – 230 Crescent Ave

Catalina Island offers a variety of restaurants with outdoor dining. We ended the night at a place called Antonio’s; an Italian restaurant offering a wide variety of traditional Italian food.

This place had delicious food — especially their house special spaghetti — the best I’ve ever had! The food comes in large portions too, so sharing dishes is the way to go!

Price: $$
Open: Mon – Fri / 9 AM – 5 PM
View the full menu here.
Recommendations and Tips: If you come on a busy day, I recommend making resos in case! Order their house special spaghetti – Mamma Mia’s Day Old Spaghetti – so GOOD!

Day 2:

Breakfast

Bistro at the Atwater – Adjacent to the new Hotel Atwater

If you are staying at the Hotel Atwater or just want a quick grab & go breakfast, you should check this place out. Bistro at the Atwater offers a wide selection of grab and go breakfast and lunch items, including baked goods, breakfast bagels and muffins; sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more. They also are a great spot to grab your morning cup of coffee or tea, as well as smoothies, juices, etc.

Price: $
Open Daily: 7 AM – 11 AM
View the full menu here.

Tours

BISON EXPEDITION

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to go in search of Catalina’s world-famous bison — I highly recommend this expedition!

If you’re wondering, why BISON? Well, in the 1920s, bison were brought to the island by a movie crew. Since then, there are about 200 bison that are managed by the Catalina Island Conservancy. Tours of this nature are quite popular in Catalina!

The Bison Expedition takes you to Middle Ranch, up Cape Canyon to a scenic overlook on Black Jack Mountain, and then down the original 19th-century stagecoach route back to Avalon.

So not only do you get to see the famous bison, but you also experience the beautiful scenic views this island has to offer on a fun safari ride!

Tickets are $84.95 for adults, and $80.95 for children, seniors, and veterans/military. View more info and book here.

Activities

One fun way to explore the city is on bikes! If you’re staying at the Hotel Atwater, you can rent bikes for free! 

My friend and I went on a fun, adventurous bike ride on our last day — and it was definitely my favorite highlight of our trip!

Lunch

DESCANSO BEACH CLUB

We decided to enjoy more of the ocean views and come for lunch once again. We ordered their Chicken Skewered Cobb Salad and Street Tacos — again super filling and delicious!

View the full menu here.

Dessert

SCOOPS ICE CREAM – 505 Crescent Avenue

We ended our trip with some refreshing ice cream! Scoops offer a selection of homemade ice cream and gelato — it was the perfect way to end our trip!

Price: $
View the menu here.

We departed at 7 PM that evening — and I truly was sad leaving!

If you are looking to get away to “paradise” during COVID, definitely consider Catalina Island. Overall, my Catalina Island 2-day trip was just what I needed! Catalina Island is a great short trip that easily can be done in just a day! But if you want to really explore and take the tours, etc., I’d recommend staying for 2 or 3 full days.

Thank you all for joining me on my trip! I hope you found this post helpful on your next Catalina Island trip!

Huge thanks to the Visit Catalina Team for hosting my trip – as always, all opinions are my own.

XO,

Fancy Nancy

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