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Weekend Camping on Catalina Island

Aug 10, 2010 by Sarah Roullard

After wanting to visit Catalina Island for many years, that’s now a thing of the past. My three-day Catalina camping trip began on a Friday at the Port of Los Angeles, in San Pedro. We took the Catalina Express to the small town of Two Harbors. (A round trip costs $65 per person).

The passage over the deep blue Pacific waters was exciting and breathtaking. The afternoon summer sun penetrated the marine layer, exposing the glimmering waters and stunning cliffs of Coastal San Pedro. Our boat ride took a little over an hour.

Two Harbors, named so due to its location between Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor, is an intimate, beautiful vacationer’s paradise. The small town has many activities and services including luxury lodging, bungalows, campsites, public shower facilities, water sports, equipment rentals, boat docking, a general store, a bar, restaurants, and more. We, however, were going to a camping area on the island, miles away from all of these amenities.

The last step in our trek to the campsite was traveling aboard the Safari Bus to Little Harbor. This leg of the trip was equally as thrilling as the boat ride. We passed through the heart of Catalina. The great mountain peaks and petite valleys showcase the subtle beauty of Southern California chaparral terrain.

The Safari Bus dropped us off at our Little Harbor camp site an hour before sunset. Tents went up and we began to organize our camping supplies.

We got a fire going to cook our dinner and finished the meal with a traditional camper’s desert of roasted marshmallows and conversation.

The campsite was sheltered from the ocean winds but allowed entry for a soft, cool breeze which kept us quite comfortable throughout our stay. At night the distant, gentle sounds of waves from the nearby beach lulled us to sleep. I slept deeply both nights. Our stay was refreshing and relaxing.

Little Harbor has a calm cove, perfect for fishing. The next day, members of our group tried their luck at spear fishing. The sport takes a lot of patience and endurance. I relaxed on the pleasant beach, enjoyed the view, and cheered my friends on as they swam through the frigid water in search of that night’s meal. My spear-fisherman friends caught and prepared a total of three Opal-Eye fish for dinner. I contributed by cleaning the dishes.

Sunday marked our day of departure. We packed up our camp and hopped on the Safari Bus back to Two Harbors. Our boat ride back to the mainland was scheduled for the evening so we had all afternoon to explore the scenic locations around town.

We hiked about a mile and a half to­­ the opposite side of the island. I stood in awe of the sharply cut mountain crests and pristine blue-green ocean. Along the way we saw a grazing buffalo! The buffalo that inhabit Catalina were brought to the island for a movie shoot in the mid 1920s and have remained ever since.

We trekked back to the port side of the island and visited the historical Banning House which has a breathtaking view of both Catalina Harbor and Isthmus Cove.

I was impressed with the classic civil-war-era architecture, amicable staff, and rustic, luxurious interior design of the dwelling. The Banning House room rates start at $250 a night. Our group agreed that a weekend stay at the historical hotel would make for a wonderful vacation.

Camping in Catalina is fun, exciting, and wonderfully relaxing. Besides camping, you may enjoy a day trip or a vacation package at one of the many intimate luxury hotels on the island. Two Harbors has great character and charm with many activities and accommodations for couples, families, and groups of friends.

I highly recommend visiting the island to learn more about its rich history and savor its many beautiful vistas. Taking a trip to Catalina is a fantastic way to genuinely appreciate and get the most out of life in gorgeous Southern California. I cannot wait to visit again and with Catalina Island situated only 22 miles from the mainland, I’m already planning my next trip!

To find out more about vacationing in Catalina, check out this site:

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4 Responses to “Weekend Camping on Catalina Island”

  1. Kathleen Riggs says:

    Great article, Sarah! Haven’t been to Catalina in a very long time….still looks pretty inviting.


  2. Long says:

    those are some gorgeous pictures


  3. Evonne Louvre says:

    Thanks for sharing! Marking it down as my next vacation spot!


  4. Pete says:

    This was news to me; I did not realize that there were any places to stay on Catalina other than in the main town of Avalon or in a yacht (if you have one) when anchored there at Two Harbors. The campground looks and sounds like a truly unspoiled location, away from all of the crowds. I want to go!


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