If you’re spending any part of your summer in Southern California then a day trip to Catalina Island needs to be an essential part of your itinerary. From water sports and aerial adventures to food tours and the great outdoors, you’ll get an amazing island getaway experience. To help make your visit to Catalina Island a breeze, we put together a Catalina day trip itinerary to help you make the most of your mini-island vacation. Not only will this itinerary save you time and remove any stressful planning, it will also ensure that you come away with extraordinary and unforgettable memories.
Early Morning – Set Sail with Catalina Express
Visitors who want the best “daycation” should set sail at 6:00 A.M. via the Catalina Express. This early morning ride is a gateway into one of the most glorious sunrises you will ever experience. The sun, the ocean and the sea life perform together in something that feels like a nature-conducted opera. It is a matchless and spectacular way to begin your day. You’re very likely to see dolphins or whales and the early planning also provides more time to soak in the Island. If 6:00 A.M. is too early, there is also a 7:30 A.M. boat ride that will have you in Avalon around 8:30 A.M.
On the Catalina Express, be sure to try the famous Spicy Bean Bloody Mary. This signature, alcoholic beverage features Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, uniquely blended tomato juice and a spicy green bean. People love eating that spicy green bean because it soaks up the Bloody Mary juice! This specialty Bloody Mary is one the best ways to start an island vacation.
Mid-Morning – Fill Up on Breakfast
Once you arrive on Catalina Island, it’s time to eat a hearty breakfast that will provide you ample energy for the rest of the day. One of the best spots to accomplish this is Pancake Cottage in Avalon. Their menu includes pancakes, waffles, bacon, omelets, avocados, coffee and more. Here you’ll find kind people, great service, and delicious breakfasts with huge portions. They are very accommodating to all diets.
Another breakfast place worth checking out is Original Jacks County Kitchen in Avalon. Their menu has tons of options that you’d expect to be served at a breakfast spot. They even have signature items such as pineapple and coconut French toast. If you need to drop off bags that you brought to Catalina Island before going to breakfast or your activities, you can do so at most hotels including Pavilion Hotel.
Morning – Your First Activity
This is the time to begin immersing yourself in the Island. To start, we recommend Aerial Adventures near Descanso Beach. Climbing, swinging and sliding from tree to tree on a series of obstacles will make you feel like you’re on an epic jungle adventure. For adventure vacationers, there is also the Zip Line Echo Tour that engage you in invigorating thrills surrounded by breathtaking ocean views. The zip line is really popular for day trippers because it’s quick, easy, and exhilarating.
Other great first options for your first activity in the morning include a bus tour or land tour. The Jeep Eco-Tours and the Safari Island adventure are awesome. There are tours ranging from one to four hours. These options are great for a day trip. These Catalina Island tours are great for new visitors who want to become more familiar with Catalina Island’s amazing interior. There is also an Avalon scenic tour that gives you the rich history of the town. Each of these tours have options that will provide you plenty of time to enjoy the island without eating up your whole day.
Lunch– Time to Refresh and Refill
Finishing your first island activity will likely leave you feeling pretty hungry. To get re-energized, we recommend participating in the Catalina Island Food tour or the Happy Hour Tour. They are an excellent way to indulge in the highest-rated entrees, desserts, and beverages available while learning more about Catalina Island.
Visitors who don’t want to walk around on a food tour would probably enjoy Catalina Island’s renowned Mexican food. Restaurants like Maggie’s Blue Rose Mexican, Mi Casita and Coyote Joe’s have incredible dishes. If you’re looking for pizza, Antonio’s is a really good lunch spot. Seafood lovers can find the best clam chowder and fish and chips at Eric’s On The Pier.
Afternoon – Your Second Activity
Since the first activity was focused on the island interior, the second activity should center around Catalina Island’s incredible water activities. There are many water tours, like the glass bottom boat or the semi-submersible. Because the semi-submersible is underwater, you can journey inside of it even when it’s raining. It’s a great experience that includes the option of feeding the fish!
Day trippers who want a lazier afternoon can grab a drink at Descanso Beach. It’s one of the only places in California where you can legally drink on the beach. Visiting Descanso Beach after a water tour is highly recommended because one of the greatest enjoyments of Catalina Island includes being able to relax on the beach.
Other places to go for your second activity include the Catalina Casino, Island Spa Catalina, or the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Gardens. Renting a golf cart is also an excellent option for those who want to explore the island all on their own.
Dinner – A Stunning Evening
After a day ziplining, touring, and soaking in the water, you need a place to enjoy your last meal. Descanso Beach Club offers an exquisite dining experience surrounded by ocean views. The scenery is gorgeous, the employees are inviting, the music is excellent, and the food is extraordinary. There is nothing quite like dining on the beach under the stars after an amazing day.
Couples wanting to end their romantic getaway will love the Avalon Grille because of its mouthwatering steak offerings, specialty drinks, and uniquely crafted deserts. It also has a gorgeous seaside view.
Going Home – Ending the Best Day Trip Ever
After dinner we recommend going back to Descanso Beach to relax as you wait to sail home. It’s the perfect way to intake one last refreshment and end your day trip to Catalina Island. The Catalina Express boats leave at 7:30 P.M. and 10:30 P.M. in the summer.
Once you board and begin your journey home, you will not be able to stop thinking about the unforgettable day you just experienced.
Visit Catalina Island and plan the best summer Catalina day trip today by making a reservation on board Catalina Express!