Dive Into These Unique Experiences on Catalina Island
Located less than 30 miles away from Los Angeles lies a breathtaking island that looks straight out of the Mediterranean. Simply take an hour-long ferry ride from Long Beach, San Pedro, Dana Point or Newport Beach and find yourself strolling the charming streets of Catalina Island’s charming town of Avalon in no time. Though many people come to Catalina to snorkel, swim or simply kick back at Descanso Beach Club, there are a handful of one-of-a-kind activities that are worth branching out for. Get ready for an adventure with our favorite Catalina Island activities that you’ve probably never heard of!
The Catalina Museum for Art & History has remained a hidden-gem attraction despite just celebrating its 70th birthday. In honor of this huge milestone, there are a few exhibitions that are shining a light on Catalina’s rich history, and you’ll want to pay them a visit before they leave. The Cabinet of Curiosities: 70 Objects for 70 Years offers museum-goers the rare opportunity to look behind the curtain and observe these priceless relics from the museum’s vault. If fine art and paintings are more of interest, you’ll love learning about local and visiting artists while admiring the artwork in the exhibition Lasting Impressions. Finally, the Time Changes All Odds: Photography & Catalina exhibition takes you back in time all the way to the 1800s, showcasing beautiful imagery of the island’s scenic landscape and natural beauty. You’ll also be able to see a model of a historic glass bottom row boat and personal photo albums up close. Until January 2024, visitors will also be greeted by the Below the Surface: The Catalina Photographs of Bruce Hall installation. These incredible photos were taken over the course of several years at Casino Point Dive Park, giving an inside look at the magical world under the sea.
Caught a craving for an ice-cold beer? Flx Biergarten (pronounced flex) is a brand-new destination that serves up stellar brewskies and even better vibes. As the island’s first and only biergarten, this exciting spot decided to pay homage to Avalon’s history with its name. Flx Biergarten refers to the ’50s Flxible buses that used to transport tourists along the streets of Avalon to explore the island. In addition to a solid selection of beer, you can also enjoy wine, seltzers and kombucha. The open-air patio lets you enjoy the crisp sea breeze, and you can also get cozy by one of the firepits.
Take a nostalgic step back in time with a friendly game of mini golf! Golf Gardens Mini Golf has been around for nearly 50 years, but with so many other outdoor activities available, it tends to get overlooked. That said, a round of mini golf is a great idea when you want to give your brain and body a break. It’s mellow, low-intensity and undeniably fun—but aficionados will be challenged by the par-51 course. It’s loved by both kids and adults, and it takes about one hour to play a game. Consider stopping by after a long day at the beach or before you sit down for dinner and drinks.
Enjoy an exhilarating boost of adrenaline at Catalina Aerial Adventure. This exciting outdoor experience pushes your limits in a challenging yet fun way. Expect to climb, crawl, swing and jump between obstacles as you work toward success. Whether you’re hoping to defeat your fear of heights or want to build trust with your bestie, these self-paced courses appeal to people of all ages and interests. From rope ladders to balance beams and zip lines, there are advanced, intermediate and beginner options to choose from. Best of all, since it is only a short walk from Descanso Beach Club, you can reward yourself with a Buffalo Milk cocktail afterward.
Looking to get to know the locals? Start with the bison of Catalina Island, who were first introduced to the territory in the 1920s! Since most of Catalina is uninhabited by humans, the Bison Expedition is a unique way to get a true look at the rest of the island that typically goes unseen. During your expedition, expect to explore the breathtaking terrain on a two-hour adventure. You’ll also be able to get a closer look at the 150 bison that call this land home while you take in the sweeping ocean views from elevated mountaintops and scenic lookout points.
For a little thrill, head to the Catalina Escape Room and prepare to solve some mysteries. The Catalina Pirate Challenge lets you test your creativity and wit as you attempt to solve puzzles using clues and set yourself free. Since the room can accommodate up to 10 players, this is a unique and unexpected activity for large groups looking to entertain themselves for an hour. That said, you’ll need to make a reservation, so be sure to plan your visit in advance.
Allie Lebos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in school she was a staff writer at The Daily Nexus for nearly two years. Since graduating she has written for The Palisades Magazine, as well as Hidden Hills Magazine. Currently living in Santa Monica, Allie loves to indulge in good food, hot yoga, and daily walks along the beach; writing articles on travel, special events, as well as features on local businesses and individuals.