Beach Camping Catalina Island
To really enjoy the natural beauty of this environment, Catalina Island camping is the way to go. Since you can’t drive freely around the island, you will have to pack in all you need.
Most of the island is owned by the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, so everything is well preserved and unsullied by development outside of Avalon.
There are five campgrounds to choose from, plus some boat-in campsites. Most campers get to the island by ferry or private boat, so consider this when packing.
You must get a permit for Catalina Island camping. These are available either at the Two Harbors Visitor Services or at Avalon’s Island Plaza. When you arrive, you should check in with one of these before heading for camp. To reserve a campground, call 310-510-8368. They also have some gear to rent, including tents, sleeping bags and pads.
The Two Harbors General Store at the Isthmus provides some foods, beer, water and wine. You can also find fishing gear, beach things and gift items.
Parsons Landing Hiking & Camping
Hiking on Catalina Island has some stunning views, but I believe the hike to and overnight at the Parsons Landing campsite is the right choice. The Parsons Landing campsite is located on a secluded beach, with the tones of the waves providing the soundtrack to your camping experience. There are only 8 campsites, the hike is not difficult, and the scenery is spectacular.
If it wasn’t clear already, you’ll need equipment for an overnight stay. The only things you don’t need to bring into Parsons Landing are water, timber, and fire starters. Otherwise, it must be carried in your pack.
Here are the Catalina Island campgrounds:
Hermit Gulch Campground
- location: Avalon
- campsites: 40, plus 9 tent cabins
- amenities: flush toilets, showers, picnic tables, BBQ, vending machines, lockers
- activities: Visit nearby Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens, hike the Hermit Gulch Trail
- rentals: tent cabins, tents and sleeping bags can be rented in advance.
You can either hike in or take a taxi to this inland campground. It is on a grassy field with shady trees. No wood fires are allowed. Propane, charcoal, firewood and ice is available for sale from the rangers.
Two Harbors Campground
- location: Two Harbors
- campsites: 42 tent, 3 group
- amenities: chemical toilets, showers, fire pit
- activities: snorkeling and hiking
- rentals: you can rent tents, sleeping bags, tent cabins and firewood from the rangers.
You can either camp in a traditional tent or in one of their tent cabins, which are available seasonally. These tent cabins sleep six campers. The campground is on a bluff above the beach. Several of the sites are sheltered.
To get to these campsites, you can hike 1/4 mile uphill from Two Harbors or take the Safari Bus.
Little Harbor Campground
- location: 7 miles east of Two Harbors, 16 miles west of Avalon
- campsites: 23, and 8 are group sites
- amenities: chemical toilets, showers, picnic tables, BBQ, fire ring
- activities: snorkeling, kayaking
- rentals: camping equipment from the Visitors Center, snorkel gear, kayaks (last 2 are through another company)
This Catalina Island campground is on the beach. You can either hike in (difficult) or ride the Safari Bus in from Avalon or Two Harbors. You can also opt to have your gear transported in from Two Harbors if you arrange it in advance with Visitor Services.
- location: 9 miles west of Avalon near Mt. Orizaba (the highest peak on Catalina)
- campsites: 11 tent (primitive)
- amenities: chemical toilets, BBQ, fire ring, picnic tables, lockers
- rentals: Some camping equipment can be rented at the Two Harbors Visitors Center
This inland campground is in amongst trees and can be reached by hiking in or by riding the Safari Bus or Airport Shuttle from Avalon to the trail head. Once you get to the trail head, it is another 1 1/2 mile hike to the campground. Since it is set higher up, the views are wonderful.
Parson’s Landing Campground
- location: Between Land’s End and Arrow Point, 7 miles west of Two Harbors or 2 1/2 miles from Emerald Bay.
- campsites: 8 tent (primitive)
- amenities: chemical toilets, BBQ, fire ring, picnic tables
You must hike in or arrive by kayak to access this campground, which faces the beach. There is no water or shade, but for $14 extra, they do provide you with 2 1/2 gallons of water and one bundle of firewood. Beyond that you must bring your own or arrange for purchase in advance.
Camping on Catalina Island can be an especially unique experience by boat or kayak. There are nine boat-in areas which contain a total of 17 campsites. These are found along the northeast shore from Avalon.
These sites are fairly primitive, with no water, toilets or moorings. You must pack out all your own trash. Also, no fires are allowed.