Catalina Island on a Budget: 3 Tips

Avalon, pictured here, is more touristy than Two Harbors

Avalon, pictured here, is more touristy than Two Harbors

Catalina Island is one of LA's best getaways. Catalina is only an hour ferry ride away from the coast and is an awesome place to go for all kinds of recreation including hiking, camping, water name it.

Catalina Island is also pricey. The exclusivity of Catalina attracts crowds who also enjoy fine dining, luxury, and shopping. Depending on what your itinerary is, you can easily spend a lot of money here.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You can visit Catalina Island on a modest budget. You can enjoy a three day camping and hiking trip for two people on Catalina Island for as little as $150. A round trip ticket for the ferry for two people is $75, tent spots are $25 per night, and there's an extra $25 budgeted for food and necessities.


Enjoy a fun and memorable visit to Catalina Island without spending too much money using our top 3 tips below.

Tip #1) Camping and Hiking

50% of people reading this will think "ew, no" and the other 50% will think "hell yeah". My job is to convert more of the first half into the second half. Camping is really fun. It's okay to be a little dirty for a couple days. I promise, you will survive. Just take wet naps and wipe yourself down every evening. Two Harbors even has a free non-private showers and a private fee-to-use shower.

Hiking is the best thing you can do on Catalina. It's such a beautiful island. There is just so much to see around the island. Huge cliffs, view spots, bison, beaches. Take the 5-mile hike from Two Harbors to Little Harbor, where there are palm trees and a tropical-like beach to swim in. (Don't forget the flask!)

Hiking is the best and cheapest thing you can do on Catalina Island

Hiking is the best and cheapest thing you can do on Catalina Island

Tip #2) Stay in Two Harbors instead of Avalon

Avalon is the touristy side of Catalina Island that most people visit, so instead, you should go to Two Harbors. Two harbors is a smaller town near the opposite side of the island. It has only one restaurant, one cafe, and one market. Two harbors also has an awesome campground. Take advantage of the natural beauty of the island instead of the artificial beauty. Don't stay in a hotel in Avalon, camp at Two Harbors!

Instead of doing touristy activities in Avalon like buying expensive food and going on tours, stay at Two Harbors and spend the day on the beach!

Tip #3) Is it your birthday?

This is our favorite tip that will help save money. If it's your birthday, you get to ride the ferry for free to Catalina Island. Isn't that awesome?! And if your birthday is in the summer, well then you just lucked out. Black out your calendar for that weekend and grab your tent because you're going camping on Catalina Island!

For more information, check out our Hiking and Camping on Catalina Island - Travel Guide

Been to Catalina recently? Tell us about your trip in the comments below!