What to Pack for Catalina Island

August 4, 2023

what to pack for catalina island

North America

California, Catalina Island, Islands, North America, Tips and Tricks, USA

Nestled off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island beckons with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and colorful charm. As you set foot on this idyllic island paradise, you’ll be greeted by a tranquil atmosphere, picturesque landscapes, and an array of outdoor activities to indulge in. Before you embark on your journey to Catalina Island, it’s essential to know what to pack to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Understanding the island’s weather patterns during your visit is crucial to packing appropriately. Catalina Island enjoys a Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild winters and warm summers. However, I’ve been visiting Catalina my entire life and  when it gets cold, it can get really windy and chilly. Similarly, if you spend any time  so packing wisely will ensure you’re prepared for any conditions. Similarly, if you plan on spending any time in the interior of the island, it can get really hot, so packing appropriately can make or break your trip!


Catalina Island: Best Time to Visit and How to Get there:

Catalina Island is a year-round destination, but the least crowded times with decent weather are during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). During these periods, the weather is pleasant, and the island is less crowded, allowing you to fully savor its natural beauty and attractions. If you want guaranteed warmth, and warmer water you’ll want to visit in August and September.

To reach Catalina Island, you can take the Catalina Express ferry from several Southern California ports, including Long Beach, Dana Point, and San Pedro. The ferry ride offers breathtaking coastal views and takes about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on your departure location. You can also charter a helicopter to make the ride that much quicker.

what to pack for catalina
what to pack for catalina

What to Pack for Catalina Island:

There are generally two locations the ferries go to in Catalina: Avalon and Two Harbors. As a general rule, if you’re visiting Two Harbors, there are less accomodations and you’ll probably be doing some hiking and will want to pack accordingly. Avalon also has hikes, but it has more of a night life to consider.


  • Light, breathable tops: Pack short-sleeve shirts and tanks to stay cool during the warm days.
  • Comfortable shorts and skirts: Opt for light and airy bottoms for exploring the island’s sights.
  • Light jacket or sweater: While Catalina Island boasts a pleasant climate, evenings can get cooler, so having a light layer is ideal.
  • Beach cover-ups: Perfect for lounging on the beach or heading to the Descanso Beach Club near Avalon or Harbor Sands at Two Harbors.
  • Casual dress or collared shirt: You might want to dress up a bit for a nice dinner at one of the island’s restaurants.


  • Comfortable sandals: A must for beach strolls and leisurely walks around town. The beaches are mostly rocky outside of the beach clubs and even then, anything past the shoreline is all rock.
  • Hiking shoes or sneakers: If you plan on exploring Catalina’s hiking trails, sturdy footwear is essential.
  • Water shoes: Ideal for exploring tide pools and navigating rocky shores.
what to pack for catalina island

Bag And Luggage:

  • Daypack or beach bag: A lightweight bag to carry your essentials during island excursions like zip lining or a 4×4 jeep tour.
  • Reusable water bottle: Stay hydrated throughout your adventures.
  • Dry bag: Keep your electronics and valuables dry during beach activities or if you want to rent a boat or jet skis.
  • Backpack or Duffle Bag: Most hotel rooms on the island are smaller, so bring a soft bag that you’ll be able to tuck away.


  • Camera: Capture the island’s scenic beauty and memorable moments.
  • Portable charger: Ensure your devices stay charged for all your explorations.

Beach Essentials:

  • Swimsuit: Pack at least one or two bathing suits for beach days and water activities.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the Southern California sun, especially if you’re doing any water activities like paragliding or snorkeling. Please, make sure it’s reef safe.
  • Hat and sunglasses: Shield yourself from the sun’s rays while enjoying outdoor activities.
  • Bug Spray: If you venture away from the coast or spend an evening mini golfing, you’ll want bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away.
what to pack for catalina island
what to pack for catalina island

As you embark on your journey to Catalina Island, having the right essentials packed will ensure you make the most of your stay. With its enchanting coastal charm, abundant outdoor activities, and laid-back atmosphere, Catalina Island promises an unforgettable experience. Embrace the island’s natural beauty, explore hidden coves, and revel in the magic of this Southern California gem. Don’t forget to search for bison left by Hollywood in the early 20th century!


what to pack for catalina island
what to pack for catalina island
what to pack for catalina island

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