Best Catalina Island Tours
Central Coast

15 Best Catalina Island Tours To Take In 2024

Catalina Island is a delightful destination in California that offers numerous attractions and fun outdoor activities. If you’re planning a trip to this charming island and are looking for the best Catalina Island tours to take on your visit, I have you covered!

As a California local, I’ve been to Catalina Island many times ranging from quick day trips to weekend getaways and multi-day backpacking trips.

If this lovely destination has caught your eye, you may be looking for some Catalina Island tours to add to your itinerary.


My top pick for a Catalina tour: Private Guided Golf Cart Tour of Avalon which visits some of the best locations on Catalina Island!

From underwater submarine excursions to sightseeing tours and wildlife sighting experiences, here is a list of all the best Catalina Island tours to get you started!

Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, may I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful!

15 Best Catalina Island Tours:

1. Guided Private Golf Cart Tour Of Avalon

Taking a golf cart tour is one of the top things to do in Catalina Island!

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 2 hours
  • Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 280+ reviews
  • Includes: golf cart, guide, water, facility fees

Catalina Island’s quaint town of Avalon offers a charming retreat just a short boat ride from the California Coast.

This 2-hour guided golf cart tour will take you to see all the major highlights in Avalon so you can get to know the town like a local! This includes a handful of iconic landmarks and local hangouts that will make you appreciate the town’s unique flavor.

Awesome experience on Catalina Island! Our tour guide, Dudley, was incredible!!! He took us to the best spots!”

-Ryan H. (read more reviews on Viator)

The Catalina Casino, an architectural masterpiece is one of the stops along the way. This tour also includes other fascinating destinations such as Pebbly Beach, Wigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, and more!

Riding in a golf cart, you can see all that Avalon has to offer, giving you the perfect opportunity to soak in many attractions without getting too tired from walking around.

You can pick between multiple departure times and enjoy a personalized experience as you explore the historic town. The guide will also inform you of the island’s rich history, enhancing your experience and appreciation.

2. Semi-Submarine Tour Of Catalina Island

The Catalina submarine tour is a great way to see the secret underwater world of Catalina Island.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 45 minutes
  • Tour rating: 4/5 stars out of 200+ reviews
  • Includes: submarine ride & guide (fish food is extra)

Dive deep into all that Catalina Island has to offer with this Catalina Island undersea sub experience starting at Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon. When you depart from the pier, the semi-sub will take you 6 feet underwater to explore the mesmerizing marine life within Avalon Bay.

It was a fun excursion! You have the option to buy fish food and feed the fish so they come right to your window. We saw lots and lots of fish!”

-Bethany W. (read more reviews on Viator)

You will cruise through the Lovers’ Cove Marine Preserve Sanctuary and for an extra fee feed the fish. I’ve personally done this submarine tour on a day trip to Catalina Island and had a blast!

This Catalina Island tour lets you experience the wonderful underwater scenery and marine wildlife without getting yourself wet. After you witness an unforgettable feeding frenzy, you can alight on the sub’s top deck and soak in spectacular views of Catalina Island.

3. Discover Avalon – Catalina Scenic Tour

Discover Avalon‘ is one of the best Catalina tours for first-time visitors.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 50 minutes
  • Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 170+ reviews
  • Includes: transportation, a guided commentary

If an intimate, comprehensive, and quick excursion is what you’re after, Discover Avalon Catalina Scenic Tour is a great option! Over the course of 50 minutes, you will experience what the biggest city on Catalina Island has to offer in a small group of up to 6 people.

This is a great way to get to know Avalon on your first visit before you explore its charming streets and beaches. It is a non-stop journey along the stunning shores of the city while you remain in a comfortable vehicle.

“This Catalina Tour is an absolute treat for anyone visiting the area. From breathtaking vistas to intriguing historical insights, this tour covers it all.”

-Curtis M. (read more reviews on Viator)

It all begins at Catalina Ave & 3rd St. The tour’s itinerary will help you become quickly acquainted with Avalon’s amazing waterfront, hillsides, town center, and all of its fun attractions.

This will help you plan the rest of your visit and pick places you want to explore further. The guide will even provide additional information about the island and the city’s history to help you out!

4. Catalina Island Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Discover incredible underwater sealife on the Catalina Island glass bottom boat tour.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 40 minutes
  • Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 50+ reviews
  • Includes: boat ride

Do you want to discover an array of colorful fish and other underwater creatures in the Pacific Ocean without setting foot in the water? This glass-bottom boat tour will help you do just that! If you’re not a fan of snorkeling but still want to see kelp forests and vibrant fish, this tour is for you.

“Great tour guide! Great trip with the kids to see below the sea. A must-do adventure on your Catalina Island trip!”

-Heather H. (read more reviews on Viator)

The tour begins at 22 Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon. Each boat only seats 9 passengers so you can enjoy a small group setting and more attention from your captain as you embark on the adventure.

The captain will tell you about the local ecology as well as the corals and fish you see. It’s a super informative and relaxing experience, especially for families with little kids.

5. 2-Hour Catalina Island Adventure Tour

This is one of the best Catalina adventure tours that will take you to visit various sites within Catalina Island.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 2 hours
  • Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 50+ reviews
  • Includes: transportation, guide

This is an exciting 2-hour-long Catalina Island Tour that’s meant to quench your thirst for adventure. Aside from traveling in an air-conditioned vehicle for maximum comfort, the adventure tour is all about exploring the wild and protected side of Catalina Island.

The views were magnificent. Abram, our driver and guide was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. He pointed out the wildlife and we saw a herd of bison.”

-Rochelle S. (read more reviews on Viator)

As you head towards Catalina’s Airport-in-the-Sky, you’ll be on the lookout for local wildlife such as bison, deer, and bald eagles. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the endangered Catalina Island Fox (they are the cutest!).

The adorable Island Fox that reside on Catalina Island.

When you reach your destination in the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Nature Center, you’ll get to visit a Native American gathering site that’s perched on the highest point of the island.

This tour is the perfect blend of adventure and cultural history so you can appreciate the rugged side of the island and its captivating past.

Read Next: 15 Best Places For Viewing Wildlife In California

6. Catalina Island Undersea Expedition Tour

Experience incredible underwater habitat on this Catalina Island Undersea Expedition Tour!

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 45 minutes
  • Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 70+ reviews
  • Includes: underwater cruise & guided commentary

The waters surrounding Catalina Island are teeming with marine life, making it a paradise for underwater expeditions.

During the Catalina Island Undersea Expedition, you’ll get to enjoy all that the Pacific waters have to offer over 45 minutes. It is an enthralling, safe, and comfortable experience as you glide 5 feet underwater in a climate-controlled cabin.

I really enjoyed the expedition. The tour staff were all friendly and informative. It was great seeing all the marine life.”

-Ronald A. (read more reviews on Viator)

The expedition begins at Green Pleasure Pier. Once you go under, you will have your own personal porthole to peek out from. Witness the magical world underneath as your guide provides information about marine biology in the area.

You can walk around to enjoy views from different points and angles and visit the upper deck to admire Avalon’s shoreline. This expedition is an unforgettable experience if you’re looking to observe marine life while staying comfortable and dry.

7. Haunted Catalina Ghost Tour

Haunted Catalina Ghost Tour is one of the best Catalina Island excursions for those who enjoy paranormal mysteries and history.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 40+ reviews
  • Includes: tour guide, audio headphones

Catalina Island boasts a rich history and cultural heritage. This Haunted Catalina Ghost Tour is designed for those who appreciate the spookier side of things.

“Great tour! Would highly recommend to anyone looking for something fun and off the beaten path when they come Catalina.”

-Kristen C. (read more reviews on Viator)

Starting at 7 pm at 1 Green Pleasure Pier, this 1 hour and 30-minute-long tour ends at 1 Casino Way Avalon and makes for an enthralling experience. Your guide will regale you with tales of the Casino as you stand in its entryway, making the experience much more immersive.

Then, you will explore the streets of downtown Avalon as the local historian explains the difference between spirits and ghosts. You will also learn about goosebump-inducing stories and the paranormal mysteries of Catalina Island.

8. 10-Hour Catalina Island Coastal Fishing Trip

Davey’s Locker offers one of the best Catalina Island fishing trips in SoCal!

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 10 hours
  • Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 34,600+ reviews
  • Includes: boat ride, bait, experienced captain & crew (fishing license, rod rentals, and tackle are available at additional cost)

If you’re enthusiastic about fishing and looking to spend a nice long day at sea, this Catalina Island coastal fishing trip offers one of the most unique experiences you can do in Southern California.

“Crew was amazing! Everyone was professional and helpful making sure my son had a great first time deep sea fishing experience.”

-Ryan (read more reviews on Groupon)

The tour includes bait while an experienced captain takes you to the best fishing spots near Catalina Island. As you go fishing, you may just reel in a white sea bass, bonito, barracuda, calico bass, sheepshead, sculpin, or yellowtail.

The boat features a complete indoor kitchen along with an assortment of food items and beverages. It is also equipped with a modern fishing tracking system to help you get a full catch.

If you’re looking to buy or rent a rod or purchase other items such as sunscreen, fishing licenses, apparel, and tackle, including the latest saltwater lures, the on-site tackle shop will hook you up!

9. Behind The Scenes Catalina Island Casino Tour

Learn more about Catalina Island’s history on this Catalina casino tour.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 1.5 hours
  • Tour rating: 4/5 stars out of 10+ reviews
  • Includes: tour guide

Take a gamble on this tour because you’ll surely have an incredible experience even if you don’t usually visit casinos! The Behind The Scenes Casino Tour provides an exclusive experience with just nine people in each group.

Tour guide was very knowledgeable and personable. She brought the tour to life and made sure that we were able to see everything.”

-Linda W. (read more reviews on Viator)

During the tour you will visit the historic Catalina Casino, allowing you to appreciate the town’s old Hollywood glamor and dramatic seaside setting. You’ll also be exploring areas of the casino that have been closed to the public for over 70 years!

See the green rooms that were once used by Errol Flynn and Cary Grant. Stand on the stage where the King of Swing, Benny Goodman once stood. See the historic projection room and first cinema designed for screen talkies, including Cecil B. DeMille’s latest films.

If this sounds like heaven, then reserve a slot for this 90-minute excursion that’s bursting with glamor and infotainment.

10. Fantastic Catalina Race

If you’re looking for a fun Catalina adventure where you can get to know the island better, be sure to book the Fantastic Catalina Race!

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Tour rating: 4/5 stars out of 10+ reviews
  • Includes: snacks, beverages, goodies, prizes

Blend the excitement of sightseeing with the intrigue of solving mysterious clues and playing detective. The Fantastic Catalina Race and Mystery experience is a unique way to explore the island while challenging yourself to solve clues and enjoying an exciting, interactive 90-minute adventure.

Such a fun way to see Catalina! Our kids (young adults) loved it and will always remember this trip. Be sure to wear athletic shoes, a lot of ground to cover.”

-Read more reviews on Viator

Whether you’re looking to bond with family or enjoy a memorable adventure with your friends, this is a great way to experience Catalina Island. The race is all-inclusive, offering snacks, beverages, and wonderful prizes.

The adventure begins at 220 Metropole Ave at 11:15 am, so you can start your day on a thrilling note. It ends at the perfect time for an early lunch so you can set off for more adventures on Catalina Island!

11. Escape Room Catalina

An escape room is a wonderful activity for small groups and families.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 1 hour
  • Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 10 reviews
  • Includes: escape room, costumed photo

Can’t get enough of interactive challenges and mysteries? Try Escape Room Catalina, the only escape room on the island! It’s wheelchair and stroller accessible with a 10-person limit so you can readily get cracking on your escape plan with a small group of family or friends.

Amazing experience. Never had so much fun and within a small area. Will recommend it to anyone who wants to have fun escaping a room.”

-Read more reviews on Viator

The challenge is to get out of venues that look like a submarine or pilot ship in less than an hour, making this a highly unique escape room experience. If that isn’t cool enough, you also get a free costumed photograph so you and your crew can remember your Escape Room shenanigans forever!

The Escape Room’s meeting point is at 220 Metropole Ave, and the Game Master will get you up to speed on all the rules and regulations before checking you in.

12. Catalina Island Mermaid Photo Shoot

Get creative and have some fun on this Mermaid photo shoot!

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 1 hour
  • Tour rating:  4.5/5 stars out of 7 reviews
  • Includes: mermaid tail, photographer, online gallery of photos

Catalina Island is a gorgeous destination that looks straight out of a fantasy world. Well, this particular activity capitalizes on its otherworldly feel!

During the Mermaid Photo Shoot, you’ll don a gorgeous mermaid tail that will make you feel like a stunning underwater goddess. With various sizes available for children, women, and men, you can make this a fun experience for yourself, your family, or couples.

So much fun being a mermaid on the island! Photographer was amazing and super easy to work with.”

-Gabrielle P. (read more reviews on Viator)

Add a bit of whimsy and wonder to your trip and unlock your inner sea princess & prince with this mystical, magical photoshoot at 1 Casino Way. You can wear a top of your choice and be as creative as you like.

The photographer and mermaid tail are all yours for an hour. In the end, you’ll get a set of enchanting photographs!

13. A Self-Guided Audio Tour Of Avalon City

If you’re planning a Catalina Island day trip and want to get to know the area on your own schedule, check out this Avalon City self-guided tour!

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 50 minutes
  • Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 15+ reviews
  • Includes: VoicaMap app, audio, maps, and geodata

Sometimes, you just want to take over the reins and enjoy a walking tour at your own pace. This Avalon City self-guided tour allows you to do just that! You can start, pause, and restart the audio tour at any time so you have full control over your day.

“Loved the Catalina Island stories, history and voices used to tell the tales of Avalon. Loved this and will use for other cities too.”

-Dlien (read more reviews on Viator)

Download the VoiceMap application and enjoy lifetime access to the audio tour of Avalon City, along with offline access to all the maps, geodata, and audio content.

This allows you to go at your own pace, customizing your tour and experience however you wish. It’s the perfect way to immerse yourself in Catalina Island while learning all you can about it.

14. Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour

Catalina zip line is one of the best tours on Catalina Island!

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 2 hours
  • Includes: zip line, tour guide

If you’re a daredevil and soaring 600 feet off the ground sounds like your cup of tea, this Catalina Island Zipline Eco Tour is what you need! Over the course of two hours, you will speed across multiple zip lines on the island at a speed of 40 miles per hour.

Your tour will begin at Descanso Beach Club with a safety briefing. Then, you’ll take to the skies, soaring high above the canyons and treetops. You can also learn more about the Island’s wildlife and ecology at different stations along the way.

This eco-tour is 2 hours of pure fun and excitement. It is the perfect combination of sightseeing and adrenaline blended into a single adventure.

15. Catalina Island Bison Expedition

On this adventure tour, you’ll get the chance to see giant buffalos.

Tour Highlights:

  • Tour length: 2 hours
  • Includes: driver, live commentary

Hop onto a four-wheel drive and explore remote parts of Catalina Island with your expert guide-driver in this bison expedition. This journey will have you aboard an eco-friendly Hummer as you dive into the rugged, rustic, untamed areas of Catalina Island.

You will ride off-road into Cape Canyon, and along Sheep Chute Road in search of American bison while learning all about the local ecology and wildlife. Open skies and mesmerizing views make this a priceless experience!

Starting at 10 a.m., this expedition is an exciting way to begin your day. Over the 2-hour window, you also get to pass through Middle Ranch and enjoy a scenic overlook on Black Jack Mountain.

I’ve been to Catalina Island several times and have seen the bison each time. The bison that reside on Catalina Island is part of a herd that was left on the island in the 1920s by a movie crew.

Catalina Island welcomes over a million visitors each year. With all that it has to offer — adventure, history, wildlife, escape rooms, and fun photoshoots — it’s no wonder that it continues to captivate so many tourists!

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Catalina Island:

How much does it cost to tour Catalina Island?

Catalina Island tours vary in cost. A more in-depth private sightseeing tour costs around $300 for a group while a shorter submarine underwater tour costs around $50 per person.

On Catalina Island, you can find a variety of excursions and tours for different group sizes and budgets.

What is the best month to go to Catalina Island?

I personally enjoy visiting Catalina Island in the spring and early summer months when the rolling hills are covered in green grass and lush vegetation. But Catalina Island is a wonderful destination to visit year-round due to its mild, temperate weather.

Is it worth going to Catalina Island for the day?

I’ve gone to Catalina Island on day trips and it is so worth it! Due to its close location to the Southern California coast, you can easily plan day trips to Catalina and explore quite a bit within a few hours.

What is the best way to visit Catalina Island?

For visiting Catalina Island you will need to arrange a boat ride through Catalina Express. Catalina Express offers 30 departures daily so you have plenty of options to choose from.

The Catalina Express boats depart from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point. I live the closest to Long Beach so this is where I usually leave from.

As a second option, you can arrange a ride with Catalina Flyer which departs from Newport Beach in Orange County. This is the largest catamaran on the California Coast that also offers multiple round trip options daily.

Looking for more things to do around California? Be sure to check out these posts next:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

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