Ask true beach fanatics to describe their favorite place to take in the sun, sand and surf, and their answer changes with the tide. For some vacationers, the ideal beach is a place where they can recline with a beverage and darken their skin. For the ocean enthusiast, it’s a place where they can snorkel, scuba dive and kayak through the waters. For the athletic, the perfect beach is anywhere with gratifying running, frisbee and hiking activities. Not all beaches are created equal, and we believe the best beaches in Southern California are found on Catalina Island. Before planning your next SoCal beach getaway, take a look at these three amazing Catalina Island beaches for some travel inspiration.
Harbor Sands – For the Athlete and Ocean Enthusiast
Harbor Sands is a beach where visitors can enjoy the relaxing sand paired with the best activities every athlete craves. It’s on Isthmus Cove in Two Harbors, a quaint California coastal town with a rejuvenating atmosphere. On this beach you can rent kayaks, beach umbrellas, mountain bikes, and scuba/snorkel gear. Explore beautiful coves while kayaking and snorkeling through hidden caves. Two Harbors Dive & Recreation Center also rents paddleboards, boats, tennis rackets, volleyballs, bocce balls, fishing skiffs, wetsuits and more.
The scuba diving in Harbor Sands is insane. The waters are crystal clear, and you’ll experience amazing views of the ocean life. You are allowed to bring your own scuba diving equipment as well as your own fins and snorkels; just be sure to follow the rules for bringing your own gear. For many visitors, it’s easier to rent their gear on the island because it’s convenient and affordable. It’s really nice to not have to deal with sandy or wet gear on your way home. Regardless of how you obtain your wetsuit, the water is usually around 70 degrees so it’s extremely refreshing.
With so many activities at your fingertips, you’ll embark into one of the best beach adventure vacations you’ve ever experienced.
South Beach – For the Social Traveler
South Beach is a public beach located along Crescent Avenue. Every summer, there is a lifeguard on duty so families feel safe and secure. South Beach is surrounded by hotels, shops, restaurants, restrooms and recreations, making it the most social beach on Catalina Island.
Additionally, there are many community events hosted on South Beach. In the summer, you can bring your beach chair for beach bingo from 6-7pm every Tuesday & Thursday (June 20-August 31). Bingo cards are $1 each, and participants can win fun local prizes. South Beach is also a hot spot for some delicious eating & drinking events, such as the Women’s Forum Wine Festival and the annual Catalina Island Chili Cook-Off.
Feel free to bring your lunch any day, but please note that alcoholic beverages, animals, and smoking are prohibited on public beaches.
Descanso Beach – For the Lounger and Beverage Connoisseur
Descanso Beach Club is one of California’s last private beaches with public access. This also means it’s one of the only beaches in California where you can bypass the drinking restrictions and pair your favorite alcoholic beverage with a gorgeous ocean view. Because it is a private beach, you have to pay a dollar to enter. You can also get in by buying a drink at the bar because that is considered to be paying your way in. One of the best things to do on Descanso Beach is to get a floatie and drift on the ocean water shores. Descanso Beach Club sells floaties in all sorts of fun shapes and sizes such as swans, lobsters, and pineapples, or just bring your own.
You can also rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and snorkeling gear. The best place to snorkel is right by Catalina Casino. Once you get to the kelp forest, the ocean opens up to underwater wonders. You literally dive in and the Garibaldi are about a foot away. They are such beautiful fish that will stare at you like you’re their best friend. Just be sure not to catch them! With penalty fees and taxes, it ends up being close to a $6,000 fine. Nevertheless, scuba diving near Descanso Beach is an unforgettable experience.
In summary, Catalina Island is home to some of the best beaches in Southern California. It has the clearest waters, the warmest temperatures, and a one-of-kind beach that allows drinking on the shores. Each beach is excellently maintained with imported white sand that’s very soft and nice. You’ll also never deal with cars or traffic on our beaches.
Enjoy the island experience and visit the best beaches in Southern California by making a reservation on board Catalina Express!