What Do You Need To Go To Catalina Island?

Catalina Island Resort and Avalon Bay

If you are planning to visit Santa Catalina Island for adventure or just to have a good time, the question on your mind is probably, do you need a passport to go to Catalina Island? The good news is, that the island is governed by the state of California, and as long as you are a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a passport. However, visitors from other countries may not be able to visit without a passport and will have to follow a different procedure.

Below, I’ll explore some of the concerns that you and many people intending to visit the island have.

Swimming in Catalina Island oceans
Swimming in Catalina Island oceans

Do You Need a Passport to Travel to Catalina Island?

No, you don’t need a passport to travel to Catalina Island if you are a United States citizen or legally in the country. If you are from other parts of the world, you may need a passport at the point of entry to the country but not at the island.

Documents Needed to Go to Catalina Island?

You don’t need any documents to go to Catalina Island as a U.S. citizen or a visitor, considering there are no immigration checks when entering the island. Visitors are only required to follow the proper procedure when entering the country by having proper documentation, such as a valid Visa for countries not part of the Visa waiver program, a valid passport, and proof of vaccination.

That said, you may want to travel with a government-issued photo ID to avoid inconveniences and for easy identification in case of an emergency. Visitors from other countries should carry a form of verification document for the same reasons.

Can illegal immigrants go to Catalina Island?

Yes, illegal immigrants can visit Catalina Island, but they need a special permit first. This can be picked up at the U.S. Border Patrol office in San Diego.

With the permit, they can head to Catalina Island without any issues.

There’s a lot of confusion about what undocumented immigrants can and cannot do. Many believe they’re not allowed on Catalina Island, but that’s not the case!

They can visit just like any other person. The main difference is they might face some limits, like not being able to work there or use certain government services. But they can still enjoy everything else the island has to offer!

How Long Does It Take to Get to Catalina Island?

Traveling to the island is fast, depending on your choice of transport. You can opt to travel via a passenger ferry or by air based on your preferences. A helicopter ride takes only 15 minutes, while a ferry takes about an hour.

If you want to arrive fast, a flight is more convenient, but if you are looking for some thrill and adventure before arrival, a ferry is the better option. Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer offer a one-hour ferry ride from Dana Point, San Pedro, Newport Beach, and Long Beach. You can access the helicopter services from San Pedro and Long Beach.

Is it Safe to Travel to Catalina Island?

It’s safe to travel to Catalina Island, which is considered safer than the mainland. With a small population of around 4,000 people, the island has a very low crime rate, making it a safe and peaceful destination for travelers.

Many visitors prefer exploring the island’s towns on foot, though you can also rent a golf cart or a bike. You can also enjoy shuttle and taxi services within the island, which is safe for all. However, you need to look out for yourself considering the varied means of transport and the fact that it’s a new environment.

It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night or when exploring isolated or less populated areas. Take precautions when exploring the island, especially the rocky terrain, hiking trails, and around water.

Catalina Island is 22 miles from the mainland and has a strict limit on the number of vehicles allowed on the island. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is the primary law enforcement agency, while the Los Angeles County Fire and the Avalon Fire provide rescue and firefighting services.

Picture shows the underwater landscape at Catalina Island
The picture shows the underwater landscape at Catalina Island

What Vaccinations Are Required for Catalina Island?

Currently, the are no mandatory vaccination requirements when travelling to Catalina Island. However, vaccination requirements for those visiting the island from other countries still apply at the point of entry to the country.

Covid-19 Protocols

Covid-19 protocols are no longer required on the island. The city of Los Angeles recommends you take precautions but no longer requires protocols such as masking and social distancing. Currently, the island does not have any business closures related to the pandemic.

You are still recommended to use masks in airplanes, crowded outdoor settings, and indoor public settings. It’s essential to check for changes in a city or region since restrictions keep changing from country to country.

What Currency Does Catalina Island Use?

Catalina Island is part of California State and uses the United States dollar as currency. If you are visiting from other parts of the world or have a different currency, you may want to exchange it before arriving at the island to avoid inconvenience. Consider carrying debit and credit cards, too, since some establishments do not accept cash.

Will My Phone Work in Catalina Island?

Your phone will work in Catalina Island. The island enjoys the services of the four major cellphone networks in the country with great coverage. The coverage may vary if you are on the interior parts or offshore. You can also access internet services on the island since most hotels and public spaces offer WIFI and other internet services.

Adventuring in Catalina Island underwater
Adventuring in Catalina Island underwater

Where to Stay on Catalina Island

Catalina Island offers many choices regardless of whether it’s a short trip or you prefer to stay longer. You can opt to stay in a hotel, campground, or resort, depending on whether you are looking for budget-friendly, midscale, or luxurious accommodation.

The island boasts of two towns, Avalon and Two Harbors. The towns are on opposite ends of the island and very different from each other in terms of ambiance and infrastructure. You must choose where to stay beforehand since commuting between the hotels can be time-consuming.

Avalon is a bustling town with a busy nightlife, many restaurants and hotels to choose from, and more tour options. On the other hand, Two Harbors is more peaceful, quiet, and remote, with fewer options for restaurants and hotels. The town is ideal if you are looking for a remote island to enjoy solitude or a peaceful getaway to recharge.

Best Things to Do on Catalina Island

There are many things to do in Catalina Island. It offers you an array of options to choose from. Whether you are looking forward to a relaxed or adventurous experience on the island, you will be spoilt for choice. You may choose to enjoy the scenic town’s wildlife or participate in water activities, including fishing, whale watching, paddle boarding, kayaking, and scuba diving, one of the many reasons why many visit the island. Glass bottom tourism, which includes a submarine tour is a great adventure for kids as they explore the underwater world and sea life.

Catalina Island has great hiking trails if you enjoy the outdoors. Catalina State Park offers miles of trails for recreation and is ideal for bird-watching, hiking, and camping. You can also opt to parasail and enjoy the same view as hikers. The island also offers the most scenic zip-lining ride above the Descanso Canyon.

You can also rent a boat and plan your own adventure as you enjoy the services of a professional tour guide. A tour and travel guide knows the ins and outs of the island and the marine life and makes a great option if you are looking for stories to tell when you go back home.

If you enjoy golfing, the island boasts the oldest golf course in the state, the Catalina Island Golf Course, which offers a little paradise for golfers. You may also want to visit the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden and the Catalina Island Museum to take beautiful pictures to show off to your loved ones. The island museum features special exhibitions, an art gallery, and thousands of collections depicting the people’s cultural heritage.

Catalina Island Resort and Avalon Bay
Underwater landscape at Catalina Island

Best Time to Visit Catalina Island

The best time to visit Catalina Island depends on what you plan to do during your stay and whether it’s a staycation or a day trip. Catalina enjoys a warm summer Mediterranean climate with very mild winters, making it a perfect destination if you love the beach life.

The best time to visit is spring or fall since the prices are a bit fair compared to summer months as accommodation prices almost double. Your best bet is late September to October and April to May. If swimming and lazying on the beaches is part of your plan, and you don’t mind spending more, you may consider visiting in summer, from June to August.

If you are working with a tight budget, the best time to visit is during winter since it’s off-season with the least crowds. The winter months on the island are between December and February. Spring and fall have fewer crowds and mild weather. Catalina enjoys spring from March to May and fall from September to November.

What Country Does Catalina Island Belong to?

Catalina Island is located in the United States of America and is governed by the Los Angeles city, California country. The rocky island is located in the Gulf of Santa Catalina, off the coast of Southern California.

So, Do you Need a Passport to go to Catalina? Final Thoughts

You don’t need a passport to visit Catalina Island since it’s part of the United States. However, it’s important to carry an identification document in case of an emergency. Visiting the island is as easy as visiting any other part of the country. The currency is the same, your phone will still work perfectly, and you will still enjoy reliable internet services. However, you may have to briefly forget the travel convenience you are used to since your vehicle is not allowed on the island.

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