AAA Travel Tips / Best Things to Do on Catalina Island

Best Things to Do on Catalina Island
By AAA Travel Editor Michelle Palmer
July 11, 2022
If you’re looking for things to do in Catalina Island, check out this list of attractions and tours. You can travel around the island on hikes, bikes and Hummers while learning about the animals and plants, both native and otherwise, that inhabit the island.

Bison Expedition by Catalina Island Company

This two-hour tour will take you into the interior of Catalina Island to look for some of the 150 bison that call the island home. The herd is descended from bison left behind by a film crew in 1924. After taking your seat in the open-air, biofuel-powered Hummer, your guide will take you up mountains and down roads with stunning views of the blue ocean in search of bison. You also have the chance to spot Catalina Island foxes, mule deer and other animals that inhabit the island. This tour is restricted to visitors over age 5 and not recommended for pregnant people or those with back or neck problems.

Hiking and Biking

There are plenty of trails on Catalina Island to enjoy for a hike or bike ride. The Trans-Catalina Trail spans 38.5 miles of the island and averages four days of hiking. Another popular trail is the Garden to Sky Trail. The trailhead starts at Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden and is a one- to two-hour hike depending on if you take the trail and turn back or complete the loop. You can rent all-terrain bicycles from Bike Catalina and Browns’ Bikes; phone (310) 913-1028 or (310) 510-0986, respectively. The Catalina Island Conservancy requires a permit to enter the interior of the island. You can get hiking and biking permits at the Trailhead Visitor Center in Avalon; hiking permits also are available at the botanical garden., LLC

Ridgetop Eco Adventure Tour by Catalina Island Company

The Ridgetop Eco Adventure Tour takes you on a two-hour bumpy ride through the eastern side of Catalina. The tour guide will tell you about the island as you travel in an open-air, biofuel-powered Hummer up to 1,500 feet above sea level. You will ride by canyons and Wrigley Reservoir. As with other tours, you will have the chance to spot the island’s wildlife, and there will be stops for photo ops and for spending time enjoying the beauty of rugged Catalina. This tour is restricted to visitors over age 5 and not recommended for pregnant people or those with back or neck problems., food, landscape, travel

Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden

The Wrigley Memorial was built in honor of William Wrigley Jr., of Wrigley’s gum. He spent much of the 1920s developing the island and turning it into a destination, which included making it the spring training location of the Chicago Cubs. In honor of Wrigley’s love for Catalina, the memorial was built using materials from the island. His wife, Ada, started the garden by having the desert plant collection installed. It is still there today and features multiple species of cacti. Since the garden’s founding, the collection of plants has grown to include species native to the island and not found anywhere else. Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden is about a 30-minute uphill walk from Avalon, or you can get there by golf cart.
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Zipline Eco Tour by Catalina Island Company

On this two-hour guided tour, you’ll head up a 600-foot-high ridge to enjoy views of the ocean and eucalyptus trees as you whiz down the ziplines toward the beach. You spend the time between ziplines learning about the local plant and animal life from your guides. At the end of this exhilarating experience, you’ll find yourself near the Descanso Beach Club, where you can grab lunch at the restaurant, sip a cocktail or rent a cabana and relax on the beach. Children ages 5 to 9 or under 80 pounds must ride tandem with an adult. Pregnant people are not allowed on this tour.

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