Camping and Glamping Spots on Catalina Island  

Camping on Catalina Island

After a day of island adventures, what could be better than cooking dinner over a crackling fire while sleeping under the stars? Fortunately, Catalina offers a range of camping accommodations to suit different budgets and tastes. From luxurious “glamping” to remote backcountry sites, there is something for everyone.

How do you get to Catalina Island Campgrounds?

Hiking to the Campgrounds

Camping on Catalina Island

The campgrounds require various levels of effort to access:

  • Two Harbors to Little Harbor – Approximately 5 miles of hiking
  • Two Harbors to Parsons Landing – Around 8 miles along flatter coastal trails or a more challenging 6.5 miles through mountainous terrain.
  • Two Harbors to Black Jack Campground – 14.5-mile hike via the Trans Catalina Trail

Since gear hauls are not provided, carry your own equipment to the remote Parson’s Landing campground. However, potable water is available at the other sites. Parsons Landing offers locker rentals stocked with water, firewood, and starters that campers can access once they arrive. Learn about hiking on Catalina Island.

Camping spots on Catalina Island

Now that you know Catalina Island offers spectacular camping opportunities, let’s explore the range of accommodations.

Two Harbors Campground

Camping on Catalina Island

Located only a quarter mile from the charming village of Two Harbors, this easily accessible campground is perfect for those who want to be close to town. It offers traditional tent camping sites for those who want a back-to-basics experience pitching their own tent and sleeping under the stars. 

For more comfort, it also features furnished tent cabins elevated on platforms. These “glamping” options take the hassle out of setup and provide amenities like real beds with linens, lighting, storage, and more creature comforts. Two Harbors gives campers the best of both worlds!

Brisa del Mar 

Located steps from the shore in the Two Harbors Campground area, this premium family camping site provides easy access to water activities like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and swimming. Its proximity to town also makes it convenient to grab a hot shower or meal at one of the restaurants after playing on the beach all day.

Bahia Azul

Adjacent to the Two Harbors Campground, this secluded family camping site offers access to a semi-private beach and amazing ocean views. The nearby amenities are useful while feeling set apart from the main campground.

Camping Cabins at Two Harbors Village

Camping cabins are only available during the winter months in Two Harbors. They provide a simple yet comfortable glamping experience on Catalina. The heavy canvas tents sit on raised wooden platforms and contain real beds with linens, lighting, storage areas, and doors that can be rolled up for fresh air. The camping cabins are close to the restaurants and quaint shops in the main village area.

Little Harbor

Catalina Island Camping

This beautiful beachfront campground on Catalina’s “backside” was named “One of the Best Campgrounds in the West” by Sunset Magazine. Little Harbor treats campers to gorgeous sunset views over the ocean, with an expansive sandy beach perfect for swimming and fishing. The campground’s location about 5 miles from Two Harbors makes it feel pleasantly remote, yet accessible to amenities if needed.

Primitive Camping

Adventurous campers willing to backpack into Catalina’s interior can explore sites like the Black Jack campground. Perched high on a plateau beneath Mt. Orizaba’s 2,097-foot summit, Black Jack offers incredible 360-degree views of the surrounding canyon landscape spilling down to the ocean below.

If you seek complete seclusion, Parson’s Landing Campground delivers a remote beach oasis. Set along the coast between the mountains and sea, you must get to Parson’s Landing on foot or by boat. On arrival, you will have miles of scenic trails and long, uninterrupted stretches of sand entirely to yourself.

Boat-in Camping 

Catalina Island Camping

A total of 17 boat-in-only sites lie nestled across 9 different coves from Avalon to Two Harbors, mostly concentrated on Catalina’s western coast facing the channel.

The campsites have an adventurous desert island feel, with no modern amenities provided. As these are anchor-in coves, sailors must carefully plan conditions to bring vessels safely near shore to access camp locations. Once on land, breathtaking beaches and trails await exploration, but packing provisions wisely is required.

Campers must have water, food, and environmentally safe toilet systems. Conservation ethics also limit campfires to established fire rings or BBQ areas.

Access to camp locations is spaced at intervals, including:

LocationFrom Two HarborsFrom Avalon
Rippers Cove4 nautical miles 8.6 nautical miles 
Paradise Cove4.25 nautical miles 8.4 nautical miles 
Lava Wall4.5 nautical miles 8.1 nautical miles 
Gibraltar5.5 nautical miles 7.1 nautical miles 
Cabrillo5.75 nautical miles 7 nautical miles 
Goat Harbor6.4 nautical miles 6.2 nautical miles 
Italian Gardens7.4 nautical miles 5.25 nautical miles 
Long Point Beach7.75 nautical miles 4.875  nautical miles 
Willow Cove9.9 nautical miles 2.75 nautical miles 

Now that you understand more about campgrounds, let’s find out where to obtain trail maps and permits before embarking on a Catalina Island trip. 

Trail maps, Hiking and Biking Permits

Camping/hiking permits on Catalina are bundled with campsite reservations through the Catalina Island Company.

Catalina Island Camping

Important note: Camping permit check-ins are no longer available in the city of Avalon. Campers MUST stop by Two Harbors Visitor Center upon arrival on the island to complete permit check-in before proceeding to campgrounds.

The Catalina Island Company also recommends all campers stop by The Trailhead facility in Avalon before embarking into Catalina’s rugged interior. The Trailhead serves as an invaluable trip planning resource, with hiking/biking permit sales along with trail maps to help navigate this adventurer’s paradise.

Ready to go Camping?

With options suitable for every budget and experience level, Catalina Island is California’s ultimate outdoor playground for campers and non-campers alike. Pitch a tent by a hidden cove, cuddle up in a cabin snug in Two Harbors, or create your own adventure somewhere in between. However, if you choose to explore Catalina, secluded camping adventures promise lasting memories for years to come.

Still have questions? Check out these answers to some commonly asked questions. 

Can you camp anywhere on Catalina Island?

No, camping on Catalina is restricted to designated campgrounds only. Most of the island interior is managed by the Catalina Island Conservancy and requires permits for hiking and camping within the Conservancy managed lands.

Where can I camp on the back side of Catalina Island?

Little Harbor offers Catalina’s only campground on the island’s western coast. Nine boat-in-only sites between Two Harbors and Avalon on the island’s leeward shore also offer remote camping opportunities.

How much is it to camp on Catalina?

Camping on Catalina ranges from $7 per person per night for hike-in tent sites to $266 per night for the top glamping accommodations in Two Harbors. Most campgrounds fall somewhere in the middle, averaging $20-60 per night, depending on amenities and the number of occupants.

Do you need a permit to camp on Catalina Island?

Yes, reservations serve as required permits and should be confirmed before arrival on the island. Secure Little Harbor bookings through the Conservancy. In Two Harbors, check in at the Visitor’s Center kiosk to complete the permit process. Avalon does not have any checkpoints.

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