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Catalina Island

Photo of Catalina Island

About Catalina Island

Officially Santa Catalina Island, this island, just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, is a bit of a world unto itself. It feels a bit Mediterranean with its clear seas and rocky coastline. And, if you come in summer then prepare for it to be busy with day-trippers. Once they all head home its romance returns though. Many of the best places to stay on Catalina Island can be found in or near the tiny main town, Avalon. But if you’re looking for an escape then have a look on the western coast, and you might find the best places to stay on Catalina Island for you are around the tiny settlement of Two Harbors. Two Harbors is also very popular with the boating and sailing sets.

Catalina Island’s beautiful and unique ecosystem is probably the main reason it’s so popular, and these days 80% of it is protected by the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy. This protection doesn’t end on the shoreline either, and the protected waters around the island are a haven for snorkelers and scuba divers. The main diving site is on Casino Point, by the famous casino built by William Wrigley Jr., of the gum, who used to own the entire island. One of the interesting features of Wrigley’s casino is that there’s no gambling facilities! Instead you'll find a movie theatre and a ballroom and the Catalina Island Museum. The name casino is taken from the Italian definition meaning ‘social gathering place’.

If you’re not a fan of snorkelling or diving you might want to go out in a semi-submarine or glass-bottomed boat.

On land there are plenty of walking trails leading you into the interior of the island, some which are also suitable for bikes? Plus there’s a golf course and a number of very nice beaches. And of course the backdrop and possibility of seeing some unique local wildlife makes it all the more interesting.

As you'd expect during peak summer months the best places to stay in Catalina Island get very busy, so plan ahead and book early.

For sea front location

  • The Pavilion Hotel is a 71 room hotel with a nautical feel and a beautifully tropical sea front location. This is a great spot for boating, surfing or swimming and of course fishing.

Still not sure which is the best place to stay on Catalina Island for you? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay on Catalina Island, widen the net to include all our California recommendations, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice.

Best Hotels in Catalina Island

  • Pavilion Hotel 71 rooms from $240

    Avalon, Catalina Island

    A nautical setting in manicured tropical gardens on the sea front. A dreamy film set town mirrored in the light rooms with all mod-cons, private bathrooms and breakfast. Restaurants, pool and spa treatments close by. Water sport activity heaven: sailing to surfing, boating and swimming.

    Fishing  -  Fly fishing boat trips are popular and readily avaliable.
    Diving  -  SNUBA dive experience is the one.
    Local markets  -  Atwater for markets and shops.
    Recommended by  -  CN Traveller
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