Catalina Island

The Perfect Southern California Yacht Destination

The Perfect Southern California Yacht Destination: Catalina Island

Looking for the quintessential yacht experience? Then a yacht charter to Catalina Island is for you.

Located just about 25 miles off the coast of California, much of the island is an unspoiled paradise loaded with natural wonders. However, Catalina’s largest town, Avalon, is filled with restaurants, shops along with fishing, diving and other maritime excursions that make it an unsurpassed island resort destination.

About Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a 75-mile square island that’s technically part of the Channel Islands group. It’s not a part of the national park though. Rather, most of Catalina Island is owned and maintained by the Catalina Island Conservancy.

About 4,000 people live on Catalina year round but the number may swell to 10,000 during the summer when the island become a more popular destination for tourists. Avalon is the biggest city and has lots of tourist attractions for families. Hotels, restaurants and a vintage, but unfortunately non-operational, casino are located in Avalon. Twin Harbors is actually a closer destination from the mainland, but it’s more secluded. There’s not much in the way of accommodations or dining but several outfitters operate from Twin Harbors.

Your yacht cruise to Catalina isn’t limited to the warm months. Catalina has the “perfect climate” with a year-round Mediterranean climate. In the summer, days average 75℉; in winter, it’s a comfortable 65℉. The sun shines nearly all year long. Catalina gets about 267 sunny days each year and about 12 inches of rainfall.

The Catalina-Hollywood Connection

Your yacht won’t be the first palatial boat to arrive in Catalina’s Descanso Bay. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, Catalina was a very popular spot for filming both silent movies and later “talkies.” Many film stars discovered the island during productions and returned to there for holidays after filming wrapped.

Charlie Chaplin and his wife Paulette Goddard were regular visitors. James Cagney frequently brought his yacht Marian to the island. And Cecile B. DeMille spent a lot of time on the island, too. He called it his muse. In fact, so many Hollywood types spent time on the island that a local proprietor wrote a weekly newspaper column about all the celebrity sightings in the lobby of the St. Catherine Hotel.

Catalina Island Films

If you watch closely, you might recognize Catalina Island in some classic films. Filmed at least in part on Catalina were films like:

  • Jaws (1974),
  • Rosemary’s Baby (1968),
  • Amistad (1997),
  • Chinatown (1974),
  • The Glassbottom Boat (1966),
  • Waterworld (1995),
  • Apollo 13 (1995),
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), and
  • Treasure Island (1933).

Films like The Hunt for Red October (1990) and The Thin Red Line (1998) were shot off the coast of Catalina and you can see the outline of the island in the distance in some scenes. Scenes from Pearl Harbor (2001) featured aerial scenes of the island.

Remnants of Catalina’s film history are still visible today. A herd of American bison were left on the island after filming of The Vanishing American. Today, the herd numbers 150 and roams the island’s interior. Production companies planted many of the palm trees planted around the island’s Isthmus during filming of Mutiny on the Bounty.

Each year, Catalina celebrates its film legacy. The Catalina Film Festival is held every September, and an annual silent film benefit raises money for the Catalina Island Museum.

Things to do on Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a treasure trove for Southern California yachts. There’s plenty to discover both on the island and in the waters surrounding this paradise.

If you go ashore in Avalon, you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions. Enjoy the island’s fine dining establishments or trek about for an eclectic hole in the wall for some grub. Enjoy the island’s signature cocktail called the Buffalo Milk at the Descanso Beach Club or any of the other bars that serve their version of the frozen concoction. In Avalon, you can also rent a paddleboard, check out the art deco Catalina Casino, relax in a serene spa or just enjoy some fun on the beach.

The casino in Avalon on Catalina Island.

If you’re interested in exploring the wildlife and scenery on the island’s interior, many outfits offer tours. Take a Jeep or Hummer into the interior or zipline through canyons or hike along the Trans-Catalina Trail.

If you have questions once you’re on the island, drop by the visitors’ center at Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon.

Places to Moor and Drop Anchor at Catalina

You can moor your yacht in the main Catalina Harbor or drop anchor 100 yards outside the mooring area. There is a landing pier for dinghies and most of the shore is opened. However, there are many other secret coves and spots that allow you to explore the island from the comfort of your chartered luxury yacht.


White’s Landing

The Balboa Yacht Club is located here and is a great place to be in the westerlies.

Hen Rock Cove

Also leased to Balboa Yacht Club, the area’s bottom is rocky and sandy. It’s a great place for diving.

Goat Harbor

Goat Harbor has no mooring but is a great place to anchor in fair weather. There’s a sandy bottom at 6 to 8 fathoms as well as two sandy beaches.

Cabrillo Beach

Also called the “Little Gibraltar” due to a large offshore rock, the area offers good anchorage in fair weather.

Rippers Cove

A nice spot for diving and swimming, Rippers Cove can accommodate several boats in fair weather.

Little Fisherman’s Cove

Shore facilities are available through the King Harbor Yacht Club.

Isthmus Cove

A very popular place to moor, Isthmus Cove has ample places to moor. Come ashore and explore the small village Little Harbor.

Hamilton Cove

A pretty spot to moor at night.

Rent a yacht in Los Angeles

The best way to get to Catalina from Los Angeles is by yacht. True, you can fly there or take a chartered boat. But chartering a yacht affords you convenience, luxury and the lifestyle accommodations you expect.

At Southern California Yachting, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in our expansive fleet of private luxury yachts and superyachts. Need a lot of space for guests? Consider the 143′ Sum Coast yacht. Planning a sport fishing excursion? Some of our fleet is equipped with the Tweener Center Console tender.

If you’re not sure what type of yacht you need for an unforgettable outing to Catalina, please give us a call today at 310-774-1051. We’d love to discuss your trip and recommend a yacht to exceed your expectations.