How to get there: The Catalina Island Ferry, helicopter, private plane, or private boat.
Fees and permits: The hour-long ferry ride from San Pedro, Long Beach, or Dana Point is about $74 round trip, but it’s free on your birthday. The helicopter ride is about 15 minutes, and you can catch a flight from Long Beach for $250 round trip, San Pedro for $300, Santa Ana for $390, and Burbank for $750. Camping in Two Harbors ranges from $22-$70 per person per night, depending on the campsite and the time of year. Group sites at Brisas Del Mar and Bahia Azul campgrounds are $725 per night.
Last, but certainly not least, is the beautiful Catalina Island. Arriving on the Avalon side of the island feels like you’ve somehow landed on a Grecian coastline. Boats are majestically moored in perfect semi-circle rows in the cove, and the hillside is dotted with white houses and terracotta rooftops cascading toward the water.
Avalon has something for everyone: adventurous types can sign up for a dolphin excursion, go ziplining, take a glass bottom boat tour, or hop in a Hummer to explore the remote parts of the island (try to spot the elusive buffalo that live in the hills). Afterwards, relax on the oceanfront cabana at the Descanso Beach Club, or have dinner at one of the fine dining restaurants along Crescent Ave. Very few cars are allowed on the island, but you can easily walk from one end of Avalon to the other. Cruising the town on a bike or in a golf cart rental is the way to go.
Two Harbors, on the other side of Catalina, might as well be a world away from the posh accommodations in Avalon. This is the part of the island where you can camp, hike, bike, kayak, snorkel, and truly get away from it all. There are five campgrounds to stay at, including some secluded boat-in sites and tent cabins. Campsites need to be reserved in advance, and you need a permit to hike, but it’s free.
Sign up here for our daily San Diego email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.