exception. Avalon is the main town on the island and a popular tourist destination. For me, this was the first time visiting Avalon.
I have been to Catalina several times before and for every one of those occasions I have camped on the island. I have even stayed as long as a week. When I was a Boy Scout I camped at Emerald Bay multiple times and in middle school I attended a science camp on the island in Toyon Bay. I have also
camped at Parson’s Cove (a primitive boat-in campsite on a secluded beach).
Avalon is small but offers many exciting activities. You can go shopping,
see a movie at the famous Casino building, go on a Jeep tour, a glass bottom
boat tour (as I did), have a drink at a local watering hole, snorkel/scuba dive,
or just hike around and explore the island. There are many locations on the island to go camping or hiking. If you choose to go hiking, you need to pick up a hiking permit at the Nature Center in Avalon Canyon. Many camping
locations are secluded or boat-in sites. This is great if you have a boat (or even a canoe) but difficult if you are not prepared to take the long journey to your campsite. Staying in Avalon at a hotel or vacation home may not be affordable. Most hotels in Avalon are $200-$300 a night.
For those on a limited budget, you will pleased to know that camping is available just a short jaunt from downtown Avalon. The closest campground to Avalon is the Hermit Gulch campground. This location offers 9 tent cabins and
40 campsites. Each site has a BBQ and many have picnic tables. You will also be happy to know that the campground has fresh water, flush toilets, coin-operated lockers, vending machines, and showers. Rangers sell ice, fire logs, charcoal, and propane. Unfortunately, open wood fires are not allowed anywhere in this campground. The campground even has a local trolley stop if you do not feel like walking to the nearby Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens or to downtown Avalon. However the last trolley is at 3:20pm or 4:00pm depending on the trolley stop. Camping rates start at $21 a
Just a short hike up Avalon Canyon is the aforementioned Wrigley
Memorial and Botanical Gardens. Also nearby is Bird Park, which once contained a large bird aviary. Now the location has a large playground
and apartments. Although the location does have “No Trespassing” signs posted, it is possible to take a quick peek inside. The playground is
actually located inside the aviary, which gives it a somewhat creepy vibe.
If you like golf you will find the Catalina Island Golf Course, the oldest operating golf course west of the Mississippi near the campground. Mini-golf enthusiasts will also be happy to know that mini-golf is available near the city library.
Since you must take the Catalina Express from Dana Point, San
Pedro, or downtown Long Beach, your ability to pack light is
Another awesome attraction I discovered near the campground is
The Sandtrap. The Sandtrap is a Mexican restaurant that offers delicious food and an amazing happy hour. At the time of this writing the happy hour includes $1 tacos, $2 beer and $5 margaritas. Pitchers of beer, cocktails, and other food are also available. I highly recommend a stop at the Sandtrap.
Avalon is an awesome location and I believe you should add Catalina Island to your list of must-do camping destinations. For more information on everything
Catalina Island has to offer, please see below:
Campgrounds of Catalina
Hermit Gulch Campground
The Sandtrap Restaurant
Nature Center at Avalon Canyon
Avalon Trolley schedule