Boating to Catalina Island

Boating to Catalina Island: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Boatsetter Team
March 17, 2022

Catalina Island is a west coast boater’s paradise just off the coast of Southern California near San Diego. The island offers secluded locations to anchor, marinas to dock for island explorations, and many places to see local wildlife. Other island experiences include swimming through a giant kelp forest and deep sea fishing for several pelagic fish species. Catalina Island is one of the most popular destinations for boaters in the Southern California area.

Use this comprehensive boating guide to discover why boating to Catalina Island is a world-renowned experience enjoyed by both locals and visitors alike.

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Can You Take Your Own Boat to Catalina Island?

Catalina Island is a boater’s dream come true, allowing visitors and residents of Southern California opportunities to take their own boat or boat rental out to this fabulous island destination. 

So pack up your boat with all the necessary supplies and head out to Catalina Island for a day full of history, outdoor activities, and more.

How Long Does it Take to Boat from San Diego to Catalina?

Before preparing the boat and heading out to Catalina, knowing how far the island is away from San Diego, California, is crucial. The distance may be shorter than you expect.

Catalina Island is approximately 87 miles from San Diego, California. It takes about one hour to get there by boat, so plan accordingly. 

When is the Best Time to Visit Catalina?

when to visit Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a popular destination all year long; however, the best time to visit is in the spring and fall if you want to enjoy calm weather. The summer is also an excellent time to explore Catalina Island by boat; however, this time of year, it can get overcast and rain in the afternoon. 

Keep in mind that the summer months are the busiest for the island due to events such as a marathon and jazz festivals. On the other hand, the winter months are cold, and storms make the seas rough, which causes the waters to be unbearably choppy.

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Best Places to Anchor Around Catalina Island

Catalina Island’s Harbor Department only allows anchoring 100 yards outside the island’s mooring area. Boats can use anchors from the bow, stern, or two bow anchors. The Harbor Department administers the Two Harbors anchorage area, and vessels can only anchor for less than 14 days.

Just about anywhere around Catalina Island offers a breathtaking place to drop your boat’s anchor and relax in the sun. One of the top places to anchor your boat is just north of Pin Rock, but this area is very shallow, so be careful depending upon the tide and the size of the boat you are operating. Pin Rock is near Cato Harbor, which offers more opportunities for anchoring and floating in the waters around the island.

Another great place to anchor around Catalina Island is at Emerald Cove, where you have terrific views of the island and surrounding waters.

It is always best to ensure you are anchoring properly at Catalina Island. For questions or to confirm you are anchoring in a permitted area, contact the island’s Harbor Department.

Things to Do at Catalina Island

Scuba diving catalina island

Catalina Island provides plenty of adventure opportunities where you can head to shore for some island fun. Popular land activities include:

  • Zip lining
  • Scuba diving
  • Riding around and exploring the hills
  • Shopping district
  • Spending the day at the beach
  • Searching for the Bison left behind after a movie filming

Spending the day in Catalina Island puts you close to some fantastic wildlife, including dolphins and sea lions, which can be seen through the crystal clear waters. Golfing is also a popular activity on the island, located in Avalon Canyon, the oldest course west of the Mississippi. Mini golf is also available for those who do not want to test their golfing skills on a full-sized course.

The iconic Casino is another excellent place to explore and learn about the history of this exciting island.

Catalina Island Marinas

Catalina Island is home to a few marinas offering supplies and gas. Marinas serving boaters visiting the island include the City of Avalon Harbor Department, Avalon Marine Dock, Avalon Harbor Marine, and Two Harbors Enterprises.

Ready to explore Catalina Island? With a Boatsetter boat rental, getting to Catalina Island has never been easier. Enjoy a day out on the water with your friends on a catamaran, sailboat, yacht, deck boat, fishing boat, and many other boat types.

You might consider one of these options:

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