Things to Do on Catalina Island

Camping: Boat-in Camping

Enjoy a Primitive Island-Style Camping Experience

Two of Catalina's most popular and plentiful nature-oriented activities, boating and camping, strike the happiest of harmonies in the 11 primitive boat-in beach campgrounds. No experience offers a greater opportunity to savor the simple pleasures of living and sleeping close to nature in the most serene of settings, where land meets sea.

The campsites are available on the eastern shore of the island between the ports of Avalon and Two Harbors. No roads lead to these idyllic waterside havens; they're accessible only via private boat or in kayaks. These primitave sites have no water available, no moorings (if coming by boat, you must anchor offshore and come in via dinghy), and no sanitation facilities (you must bring your boat's portable toilet ashore, if possible, or set up another landfill-approved sanitary facility). You must bring in all your water and food, cooking equipment (no wood fires are allowed), tents (which will provide shade on sunny days and protect your food from hungry birds), sleeping bags, and any other gear you'll need. Just as importantly, you're required to maintain the pristine nature of these campsites, which includes carrying out every trace of trash.

Sounds strict, doesn't it? But these straightforward rules help guarantee that you and anyone else who avails themselves of these boat-in campsites enjoys Santa Catalina Island at its natural best. You'll behold unspoiled views of sandy coves and sparkling seas. If you're so inclined, you'll be able to snorkel and scuba dive in the pristine waters; indeed, one of the campsites, Goat Harbor, is recognized as a good site for both novice and intermediate divers and snorkelers.

If you have kayaks, you'll be able to explore the coastline from your base. If you feel like shaking out those sea legs, you can take easy rambles a short distance inland. Or, as many people do, you can just sit back and enjoy the absolute tranquility of the setting.

A ranger checks each campground every day and each campsite is unique in location and regulations.

Organizing Boat-In Camping
The 11 boat-in campgrounds are located between Avalon and Two Harbors. From West to East, they are:

  • Rippers - 8.6 miles from Avalon / 4 miles from Two Harbors
  • Paradise Cove - 8.4 miles from Avalon / 4.25 miles from Two Harbors
  • Lava Wall - 8.1 miles from Avalon / 4.5 miles from Two Harbors
  • Gibraltar - 7.1 miles from Avalon / 5.5 miles from Two Harbors
  • Cabrillo - 7 miles from Avalon/ 5.75 miles from Two Harbors
  • Goat Harbor - 6.2 miles from Avalon / 6.4 miles from Two Harbors
  • Italian Gardens - 5.25 miles from Avalon / 7.4 miles from Two Harbors
  • Long Point Beach - 4.875 miles from Avalon / 7.75 from Two Harbors
  • Willow Cove - 2.75 miles from Avalon / 9.9 miles from Two Harbors

Since only a limited number of sites and spaces are available among the 11 campgrounds, reservations are essential. They must be made in advance by visiting Be sure to have alternate dates and alternate sites in case your first choice is not available.

You must bring all food, water, camping, and cooking equipment with you (no wood fires allowed). You must also bring a porta-potty ashore if your boat has one; if not, you can make your own toilet from a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat lid, or buy individual landfill-approved potty-bags from the Coastal Ranger, who will be checking sites to verify compliance with this rule

Speaking of which, the Coastal Ranger makes daily visits to each boat-in campsite, collecting fees and making sure that everything is running smoothly. The ranger will be carrying a cell phone and a VHF radio, and it's a good idea for your party to bring along that equipment too in case of emergencies.

Time to Allow: Two or more days.
Reservations are required.
Prices and availability are subject to change.