Catalina Island camping is one of the best ways to commune with the raw and natural beauty of this vacation destination. Residents of Southern California have long appreciated the ability to easily travel to Catalina Island and now around 1 million people visit there every year to enjoy diving, fishing, hiking, and boating. However, as a fragile ecosystem that requires constant tending, you will want to be aware of some of the general rules that apply to all Catalina Island campsites, both to make the most of your experience and leave this natural treasure in as good as shape as you found it.
There is a nice selection of Catalina Island campgrounds spread throughout the island. In advance of your trip, you will simply want to determine which part of the island appeals to you the most, as there are Catalina Island campsites from Two Harbors to Hermit Gulch (the only campsite in Avalon). The other main ones are Parsons Landing, Black Jack, and Little Harbor. There are also around ten boat-in only campsites that up the ante for a day or weekend adventure on Santa Catalina Island. Each one has its own rules, but for the most part, a general set of rules apply to all of them.
Two Harbors is perhaps the most popular destination for Catalina Island camping, offering both traditional tent camping as well as cabins that sleep up to six people. This is one of the Catalina Island campgrounds that sits high atop a bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean right at the Isthmus. It is just a quarter-mile to reach the town of Two Harbors where there is a general store and a restaurant. Avalon, the center of tourist activity, is on the southern end of the island.
Parsons Landing is an ideal spot for anyone looking to enjoy a camping trip in relative seclusion. It is located seven miles west of Two Harbors and the campsite is only accessible via a mildly difficult hike or a kayak trip. Black Jack is another of the Catalina Island campsites that you may want to consider looking into. It is situated in the pine trees near Mount Orizaba. There are eleven campsites at Black Jack and the sweeping views of the hills dissolving into the ocean are quite memorable.
You will need to secure a permit for all Catalina Island camping. These are issued year round at Hermit Gulch, Island Plaza (Avalon), and the Two Harbors Visitor Services Center. Alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden for minors, and there is also a 10 p.m. curfew for minors. There are no lifeguards on duty at any of the Catalina Island campgrounds, meaning that you will have to swim at your own risk. There are no electrical hook-ups whatsoever at any of the sites as this could cause a serious threat to the island flora and fauna. You are not allowed to gather wood and there are designated places where fires can be built. The building of wood fires at the Hermit Gulch Campground is strictly prohibited. Besides that, there are no pets, no firearms, no littering, and you are expected to keep your distance from the wildlife.