What to do and see on Catalina Island

Sponsored by Sanderson Ford
Updated: May. 6, 2022 at 12:28 PM MST
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CATALINA ISLAND, CA (3TV/CBS 5) - This month’s Field Trip Friday takes us to the beautiful Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California. The island is 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its greatest width.

The island’s total population in the 2020 census was 4,201 people, 85 percent of whom live in the island’s only incorporated city, Avalon. There is a 25-year waiting list to get a car on the island. That’s why most people use golf carts to get around.

[RELATED: For more information, visit LoveCatalina.com]

The island has some Arizona ties. It was developed into a tourist destination by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. beginning in the 1920s.

The American Bison that wander about in the outlying areas were brought there for the filming of “The Vanishing American,” a 1925 American silent western film. Unable to round up the small herd after production wrapped, crews left them to fend for themselves. At one point, the herd grew to as many as 600 bison. The Catalina Island Conservancy now monitors and maintains the herd to about 150 head.

Tess Rafols and Scott Pasmore explore all the cool spots to eat, stay and fun things to do while you’re on the island!


Catalina Island is known for its outdoor activities and adventure tours, including zip lining. Guests will take a shuttle up to the ridgetop 600 feet above Descanso Beach Club, where they can enjoy sweeping ocean views and zigzag down and across Descanso Canyon. There are five separate lines at speeds of around 35 MPH.


Located in the heart of Avalon, Bellanca offers beautiful views of the harbor, just steps from the beach and all the finest shops in town. The hotel was completely renovated and reopened to the public as the Bellanca in July 2020. The hotel’s signature restaurant, The Naughty Fox, is a modern beach bar serving coastal cuisine and an impressive list of island-inspired cocktails.


An alternative to flying, travel via the Catalina Express is a quick and safe way for travelers to experience island vibes without the airfare. With three different ports departing from Dana Point, Long Beach and San Pedro, travelers can hop on the Catalina Express and get to the island in just over an hour.


Visitors can come face-to-face with Catalina’s abundant marine life aboard the Sea Wolf Semi-Submersible as it takes you five feet below the surface in a spacious, climate-controlled cabin. Every passenger has their own seat and port hole. Plus, you’re free to roam about the cabin to enjoy other viewpoints. Catalina’s marine environment is considered one of the healthiest in the world. You’ll see an incredible array of undersea creatures, including bright orange Garibaldi, spotted calico bass, urchins, rock fish, and bat rays, just to name a few.


Visitors can also check out the famous bison on the island by taking a Catalina Island Conservancy Eco Tour. Catalina Island Conservancy is a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving the land and wildlife on the island.

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