your paddlesports destination

Santa Catalina Island in California

Trip Overview

Santa Catalina is a favorite weekend getaway for many southern Californians. the island is about 20 miles off the coast of Los Angeles/Orange counties and about an hour to an hour and a half away by ferry.

There are a number of places to rent kayaks in the harbor at Avalon, but Descanso Beach Club (just past the old casino building) happily rents kayaks overnight or longer for paddling trips along the islands' coast. My kayak was waiting for me when I arrived for my overnight trip. After loading my gear into the fore and aft storage hatches, one of the club's managers sat down with me and my map and gave me detailed directions/instructions on what to look for and where to go to reach my campsite.

Avalon and most of the beach campsites are on the lee side of the island, but the winds can still cause some decent swells in the early afternoon. The campsites are listed as primitive, and they really are, just a rocky beach barely wide enough to pitch your tent. You must bring your own water and toilet bag, which is required. You will see lots of private fishing boats along the way. Although Avalon is popular during the summer and on weekends, most of the primitive sites are probably readily available except for holidays.


The campsites along the coast are "primitive"-no water, no shelter, no facilities of any kind, except for picnic tables. Avalon has a small but well stocked grocery store, and Descanso Beach Club has bottled water, toilet bags and fuel for sale. Island Rangers can bring supplies to campsites with prior arrangement.


Campsites are $12.00 a night. The kayak rental fee was very reasonable for overnight.


Ferry service is available from Dana Point, Balboa (Newport Beach peninsula) and Long Beach (by the Queen Mary). There may be other ferry services too.


A waterproof map of the island available in boating stores was very helpful.
  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip