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How to plan your first visit to Catalina Island

a boat is docked next to a body of water

Those of us who live on – and love – Catalina Island are regularly amazed at how many times we hear the phrase “I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life and I’ve never been to Catalina Island.” Well, what are you waiting for? Here’s our guide to planning your first visit to Catalina Island.

Your first trip to Catalina Island requires some decisions

As you’re contemplating your first trip to the island, you are going to need to make a couple of decisions first: when are you going and how long are you going to stay.

You can visit Catalina Island any time of year, but each season has its own vibe. Summer offers the most activities and consistently warm weather. Fall also offers great weather and a wealth of events. Winter promises fewer crowds and lower prices on accommodations. And spring on Catalina Island showcases stunning green hillsides dappled with wildflowers.

No matter what season you visit, weekends tend to be busier, although when cruise ships visit the island, typically on Tuesdays, there are plenty of crowds.

While avoiding the crowds may seem like a great idea – and it is – keep in mind that when the island is slower, both mid-week and off-season, some businesses may have shorter hours and less availability.

Your next decision about your first trip to Catalina Island is how long to stay. A day trip will just barely scratch the surface of all this compelling island has to offer and an overnight trip will just give you a chance to get the lay of the land before you have to pack up and head back to the mainland. We recommend at least two nights for your trip to the island.

Now that you’ve decided when to go to Catalina Island for your first trip, it’s time to decide how to get to Catalina Island. Read on for Part Two of our first timer’s guide to Catalina Island.

a body of water with a mountain in the background