Things to Do on Catalina Island

Bicycles: Cycling the Island

Hitting the Road in a Cyclist's Paradise

The city of Avalon seems miraculously tailor-made for navigation, exploration, and appreciation via a bicycle. Whether you're a casual peddler, an athletic cyclist, someone fresh off of training wheels (or still on them!), or even if you haven't ridden a bike in years, you'll find it easy to enjoy Catalina's main outpost on two wheels.

What makes bicycling in Avalon especially easy is the fact that automobiles are almost (but not quite) nonexistent on Santa Catalina Island. The vehicle of choice for most residents, and for many visitors who rent them, is the golf cart. Since these are relatively small and lighter in weight than a car, and achieve top speeds of no more than around 15 miles per hour, the streets here feel far friendlier to cyclists than they do in most towns or cities. Add to that the simple fact that most of Avalon is built on the flat plain where Avalon Canyon meets the harbor–not to mention that the entire downtown area can be traversed on two human-powered wheels in a matter of minutes–and you can understand why so many people find bicycles the transportation of choice here.

And speaking of choice, you do have one–or, rather, several–when it comes to bicycling in Avalon. If you're already a dedicated cyclist, you can bring your wheels of choice over to the island with you for a small fee (see below). Bike rental shops in Avalon also let you choose from a good range of options, including

  • single-speed bikes
  • 6-speed bicycles
  • 6-speed and 21-speed tandem bikes
  • 21-speed mountain bikes
  • 21-speed mountain bikes with shocks
  • electric bikes
  • children's bicycles in a range of sizes.

Helmets are provided with bikes. Baby seats are also available, and rental bikes generally come with baskets or racks so you can bring essentials along.

Your choice of rental bicycle, of course, should depend on your skill level and the uses to which you plan to put the bike. If you aren't at the peak of fitness or just want wheels for bopping around the flat part of town, then a single-speed bike or a 6-speed bike should suit you just fine. You'll find plenty of pleasure, by the way, just exploring the residential neighborhood a few blocks inland from the commercial tourist areas, admiring their charming seaside-getaway architecture sometimes reminiscent of East Coast retreats.

If you plan to travel a little bit further afield–perhaps up Avalon Canyon Road to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, for example–then consider the greater ease and flexibility that a 6-speed bike is likely to provide. And, if you're very fit and want to try climbing some of the steep hills that embrace the town, the better to admire their fantastic views, then go for a mountain bike. Bear in mind, however, that its use will remain restricted to the city of Avalon; to go mountain biking in the island's interior (where mountain bikes are the only kind of bicycle allowed), you'll need to buy a permit from the Catalina Island Conservancy.

Electric bikes make your ride a breeze with easy comfortable rides with power when you need it. To rent an electric bike you must be 18 or older, weigh less than 240 pounds and be 5 feet 2 inches or taller.

Whatever bicycling choice you make, you won't regret rolling through Avalon on two wheels in the open air!

Renting a Bicycle in Avalon
You have a range of choices for renting a bike in Avalon (see above), and bikes are available at a range of rates as well-starting at $22 per hour for a beach cruiser. Rental companies also have full-service repair shops that provide a quick turnaround.

If you want to bring over your own bike, you can do so for a small fee on cross channel carriers.

Whenever you bicycle, wear comfortable clothing, avoiding skirts or trousers with flapping hems that could get caught in chains, gears, or spokes. Always wear a helmet (if you're an experienced cyclist with a favorite helmet, bring it from home), and consider protective knee and elbow pads. Bring a plastic water bottle to keep yourself hydrated on the road. And, most importantly, make sure you have with you a detailed map of Avalon, to make your explorations all the more rewarding!

Time to Allow: One hour to all day.
Reservations are not required.
Prices and availability are subject to change.