What to Wear to Catalina Island

What to Wear to Catalina Island

Nestled just off the coast of Los Angeles lies a Mediterranean-style island paradise known as Catalina. This gem of an island offers endless opportunities for fun and adventure, from beaches and boating to ziplining, golf carting, and hiking.

But what exactly should you wear to Catalina? The island certainly has plenty of casual spots, but you’ll also want to bring clothing suitable for the array of activities available.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about what to wear and pack for your upcoming Catalina getaway. You’ll find packing checklists for clothing, shoes, accessories, and more so you can perfectly prepare.

A Packing List for Your Catalina Island Vacation

No matter how long you plan to stay in Catalina, you’ll want to pack both stylish and practical items to take on all that the island has to offer. Here is an overview of what should make it into your suitcase:


What to Wear to Catalina Island

The vibe on Catalina is generally relaxed and casual during the day. But some of the upscale restaurants do expect a bit more polished attire for dinner service. With that in mind, these clothing items are great options:

  • Breathable cotton or linen tops and shorts—the inland areas can get quite warm
  • Swimwear like bikinis, one-piece suits, board shorts, etc.
  • Light cardigans or sweatshirts for the cooler coastal evenings
  • Sundresses or casual short dresses for going out at night
  • One outfit suitable for a nicer dinner out
  • A lightweight rain jacket as pop-up showers can occur

Check the weather forecast before your trip. This will allow you to adjust quantities accordingly if rain or temperature drops are expected.


What to Wear to Catalina Island

When it comes to footwear, you’ll want options suitable for both land and sea adventures:

  • Water shoes or sandals with straps for beach and water activities
  • Closed-toe athletic shoes for hiking and other active pursuits
  • Boat shoes or deck shoes work well for casual wear and boating
  • Flip flops are great for the pool or locker room areas
  • Heels, wedges, dress flats, or dress sandals to elevate evening outfits

Ensure that at least one pair has good traction and support for trekking around the island. And do break in new shoes before the trip since blisters are no fun!

Bag and Luggage

What to Wear to Catalina Island

You probably won’t want to overpack for Catalina. Lugging tons of suitcases up and down the hills isn’t ideal. These bag options check all the boxes:

  • Backpack for hikes or all-day exploring
  • Waterproof dry bag for cameras, keys, cash, and other essentials
  • Small crossbody bag for going out at night
  • Checked bag with wheels if taking the Catalina Express ferry – leave the huge suitcases at home!


What to Wear to Catalina Island

Phones, cameras, e-readers…determine which electronics you’ll actually need and avoid packing the whole gadget arsenal:

  • Primary phone and charger
  • Portable charger and travel adapter
  • Waterproof/dustproof camera
  • Waterproof case or dry bag for electronics
  • E-reader or small tablet (optional)

Pack protection for your devices if you plan to take them on hikes or to the beach.

Beach Club Essentials

What to Wear to Catalina Island

Don’t forget the items that will make the Descanso Beach Club activities, pool, and water excursions more enjoyable:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat or visor
  • UV protective rash guard
  • Swim cover-up
  • Waterproof sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Beach towel
  • Folding beach chair
  • Snacks and water

Hiker’s Destination

What to Wear to Catalina Island

For those looking to explore Catalina’s rugged interior, be sure to pack:

  • Sun protective shirts and pants
  • Insulated water bottle
  • Hiking poles
  • First aid basics
  • Durable hat
  • Sunglasses retaining strap
  • Trail mix/protein bars
  • Bear canister (required for campers)
  • Headlamp and backup batteries
  • Multi-tool or pocket knife

Things You Should Not Pack on Your Trip to Catalina Island

What to Wear to Catalina Island

Overpacking is commonplace, but it’s best avoided for Catalina. Bulky or unnecessary items will just weigh down your luggage. Leave these at home:

  • Valuables like expensive jewelry
  • All your gadgets – pack only essentials!
  • Excess shoes – 3 pairs at most
  • Heavy coats or bulky sweaters
  • Heaps of makeup or beauty products
  • Important documents not needed for travel
  • Laptops – enjoy the digital detox!

What to Wear to Catalina Island

What to Wear to Catalina Island

Preparing for a trip to Catalina Island doesn’t have to be stressful. Just remember to check the weather before you depart, plan your activities in advance, and pack accordingly using our checklists above as a guide.

Focus on versatile, casual clothing that can handle everything from hiking and snorkeling to a chilly evening out in Avalon or two harbors. Protect your skin and eyes from the sun, and bring wet/dry bags to secure your valuables around the water. Leave anything heavy or unnecessary behind.

Most importantly, get ready to soak up the magic and charm that makes Catalina such a beloved destination off the Southern California coast!

How do people dress on Santa Catalina Island?

During the day, most people dress casually in shorts, t-shirts, swimwear, and other breathable fabrics. Sundresses, polos, button-downs, and blouses are also regularly seen around town. Come evening, smart casual is the typical dress code. People may throw on sundresses, linen pants, casual button-ups, or nice sandals when going out for dinner.

What shoes should I wear to Catalina Island?

Boat shoes, canvas slip-ons, sandals, and sneakers are great options for strolling around Catalina’s towns. For adventuring farther inland, closed-toe hiking shoes with good traction are a must. And don’t forget water shoes or sports sandals for beach days!

Does Catalina get cold at night?

Yes, Catalina Island can get quite cold at night, with temperatures dropping into the 50s or lower. Locals even refer to this as “Catalina Crud”! Pack layers like light jackets, cardigans, and sweatshirts to stay comfortable after the sun goes down.

What is the best month to go to Catalina Island?

July through October makes for a peaceful Catalina vacation. Summer crowds have tapered off, and temperatures are still warm for beachgoing. Late spring and early fall also boast pleasant weather, smaller crowds, and lower rates on lodgings. Year-round, the island offers plenty to see and do!

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