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The Best Time to Visit Catalina Island in 2024 (Our Take)

The Best Time to Visit Catalina Island in 2024 (Our Take)

What's the best time to visit Catalina Island?

The best time to visit Catalina Island is in the fall, from September to December, offering mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and a range of holiday events and local experiences. Enjoy beach relaxation, sunset hikes, and intimate island activities like mixers and wine tastings, while families can make the most of fall or winter breaks with uncrowded attractions and pleasant weather.

Taking a vacation in sunny California? Or are you trying to visit more attractions in the Golden State you call home? With a little bit of research, you’ll make the most out of your visit to Catalina Island.

California is full of great spots to visit, but Catalina Island takes the cake for places to see in the southern end. When you know when to make the trip, and what to do when you arrive on the island, you’ll have the time of your life!

But before you begin planning, you need to know when to stop by the largest Channel Island. This is a big part of your trip planning and can affect your itinerary.

You’ve come to the right place if you’re at this step! Despite the reason you want to visit Catalina Island, we’ll show you the best times to go and what you need to know before you go!

Overall Best Time to Visit Catalina Island

Photo of the colorful homes on the hillside pictured during the best time to visit Catalina Island with people playing in the water and blue skies above

Larry Raber/Shutterstock

We think the best time to visit Catalina Island is in the fall, from September to December. The fall months are fairly mild in southern California, especially on the water.

Fall temperatures on the coast linger around 70 F(21 F), with mild cloud coverage and sea breezes. Relax on the beach, hike at sunset, and grab a bite to eat in Avalon in beautiful beach weather. The season also welcomes all sorts of holiday celebrations, which means special events and festivals.

If you want to plan, you can double-check Catalina’s events schedule to plan your trip schedule. Or surprise yourself with local mixers and tastings when you arrive. After the summer rush, fall is also less busy.

You can attend local mixers and wine-tasting events with venues pretty much all to yourself. Chat with the locals to learn more about the events and the island’s history, and slow down to the pace of island living.

If you’re planning to visit with the family, you can always visit during fall or winter breaks. You avoid major holiday price spikes. And you take advantage of the cool weather and uncrowded attractions.

Cheapest Time to Visit Catalina Island

A few people walking along a sandy beach with expensive homes on the hillside overlooking the bay during the cheapest time to visit Catalina Island, the winter

December 30th, 2015. Catalina Island, California. Houses on the hills along the waterfront in Catalina Island/Benson Truong/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Catalina Island is from November through March. This is the off-season for Catalina Island tourism, although any month outside of the summer season will be easier on the wallet.

Not only will you get great discounts on hotel fares, but on tours and activity prices as well. You can say the same thing about prices during weekdays since people are at work or in school. But the best time by far to visit is in late January.

Flights to and from southern California tend to drop around this time as the holiday season passes. Comparatively, mid-November is another time that flight and hotel prices tend to drop as these services prepare for the holiday season.

During these parts of the year, you’ll experience the beautiful fall and winter weather. Compared to the popular summer months between June and September, you’ll experience less humidity and more cool breezes.

The mild day temperatures and cool night temperatures will also make sleeping overnight in a campsite much more pleasant. Or, if you’re more inclined to stay near the water and sit outside with the stars, you can easily do so with a light sweater and some cocoa.

Least Busy Time to Visit Catalina Island

Empty brick walkway to the dock with boats in the bay and a pink sunset overhead pictured in January, the overall least busy time to visit Catalina Island

Mary Prentice/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Catalina Island is in the month of January, the off-season. Visiting during the off-season will be less busy compared to the summer months.

But January tends to be the least busy because of the recent holiday season. Not everyone can take time off during certain parts of the year though. Are you road-tripping through California and want to add Catalina to the list?

Or will you only be in the state during the summer? Here are some other less busy times to visit Catalina Island. Weekdays are another great time to visit to avoid crowds.

If you visit the island during its on-season, you may run into more people visiting than normal. But if you stick to off-season months or away from major holidays, you will be safe from large crowds.

If you don’t mind paying a little extra around the holidays, stay the night during the winter for extra solitude on the island. While everyone else parties it up on the mainland, you can spend your time enjoying the serene beaches on Catalina with plenty of the main attractions all to yourself.

The fall and winter months during the off-season have beautiful weather if you’re more inclined to cool sea breezes. Temperatures linger in the mid-70s F(20 ℃), and you can easily bundle up with a sweatshirt or light coat.

Worst Time to Visit Catalina Island

Catalina Island casino with storm clouds overhead and a rainbow ending behind the structure

Ron Kacmarcik/Shutterstock

We think the worst time to visit Catalina is in early summer, in June or July. We might argue that any time is a great time to visit Catalina Island, but this varies between people.

Whether it’s weather, crowds, or lack of activities, you will find a part of the year that lacks in a certain area. Summer is the most popular time to visit the Golden State, especially since schools are on vacation.

The weather is warm, the people are lively, and practically every activity is available. It would be perfect if not for all the effects of this tourist season.

August and September are standard for the summer tourist craze in California. June marks the end of school semesters, so students and families alike are itching to go out and explore. So as a general rule of thumb, try and avoid school vacations.

July is another busy month with sales slapped right on top of price hikes. If you’re an outdoorsy person, you’ll be out of luck to find a spot to camp.

And you won’t be able to get a moment to yourself with all of the people that will be traveling to and from the island. Southern California weather during the summer doesn’t get too extreme on the ocean, but it does get humid.

Outdoor activities on land won’t be as engaging if you’re feeling sticky and sweaty. You can still have fun in the humidity, but plan accordingly and pack cool clothes.

Catalina Island by Month: Climate & Activities

Pointe Vincent lighthouse overlooking Catalina Island pictured with red clay soil

Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Still unsure about the best time to visit Catalina Island? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:


January on Catalina Island brings mild winter weather, with temperatures ranging from 9 to 14°C (48-57°F). This month is ideal for enjoying the quieter side of the island, exploring the Catalina Island Museum, and taking peaceful walks along the Avalon waterfront.


February continues with cool weather, perfect for spotting migrating gray whales, exploring the interior of the island on a Jeep Eco Tour, and enjoying Valentine’s Day dining experiences at waterfront restaurants in Avalon.


As spring approaches, temperatures on Catalina Island range from 11 to 16°C (52-61°F). March is great for hiking on the Trans-Catalina Trail, visiting the iconic Casino Building for a historical tour, and exploring the budding flora in the island’s botanical gardens.


April brings milder weather, with temperatures around 12 to 17°C (54-63°F). Enjoy the blooming wildflowers, participate in the Catalina Island Conservancy Marathon, and explore the Descanso Beach Club for outdoor lounging and activities.


May sees warmer temperatures from 13 to 18°C (55-64°F). It’s an excellent time for snorkeling and scuba diving in the kelp forests, exploring the charming town of Two Harbors, and participating in the annual Avalon Ball.


June brings pleasant weather, with temperatures between 15 to 20°C (59-68°F). Enjoy kayaking along the coast, experiencing the Taste of Avalon culinary event, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches like Lover’s Cove.


July is warm, with temperatures from 18 to 23°C (64-73°F). Celebrate Independence Day with fireworks and festivities in Avalon, enjoy summer concerts at the Descanso Beach Club, and take a glass-bottom boat tour to view marine life.


August continues with warm weather, offering temperatures from 18 to 24°C (64-75°F). Visit the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, enjoy outdoor adventures like zip-lining, and explore the island on a guided buffalo safari.


As fall begins, temperatures on Catalina Island range from 18 to 23°C (64-73°F). September is perfect for attending the Catalina Wine Mixer event, enjoying parasailing for aerial views of the island, and exploring the quieter side of Avalon.


October sees cooler temperatures from 15 to 21°C (59-70°F). Enjoy the annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival, explore the island’s hiking trails in cooler weather, and experience the thrill of a nighttime flying fish tour.


Fall temperatures in November range from 12 to 18°C (54-64°F). This month is ideal for relaxing at the island’s spas, playing golf at the Catalina Island Golf Course, and enjoying the serene atmosphere of the off-season.


Winter brings cooler temperatures ranging from 10 to 16°C (50-61°F). December is peaceful with fewer tourists, offering a chance to experience the local holiday festivities, shop for unique gifts in Avalon’s boutique stores, and enjoy the winter beauty of the island.

Frequently Asked Questions

Brick walkway running along the shoreline of Catalina Island with boats in the water and cloudless skies above

Sofiia Dorsey/Shutterstock

Do you have questions about visiting Catalina Island? Here are some of the most asked questions, answered:

How many days do you need in Catalina Island?

For a comfortable visit, you should stay on the island for three days. This gives you enough time to explore the major attractions and some of the hidden gems.

Can you swim in the ocean around Catalina Island?

Yes, you can! Avalon is the best area for swimming access while being close to seaside attractions.

Can you visit Catalina for one day?

Yes, you can! There are plenty of tours and activities that run for 1-4 hours, perfect for getting to know the island on a day trip.

Is the water around Catalina warm?

The average temperature of the ocean around Catalina is 62 ℉ (17 ℃) year-round.

How much does the ferry to Catalina cost?

Depending on the ferry that you take, a ferry ride will run about $80. If you’re bringing other things onto the ferry, like a bicycle, you will have to pay additional charges.

How long will it take to walk the entirety of Catalina Island?

If you’re feeling adventurous or just love hiking, you would need about four to five days, depending on your pace, to walk the surface of Catalina Island. The island covers 38.5 miles and if you walk from Avalon to Two Harbors you’ll see not only the island but the wildlife as well.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Catalina Island?

The overall best time to visit is September through November (fall). The weather is mild, the crowds are much smaller, and hotel fares are cheaper.

This part of the year has a good balance of everything we love about southern California. Fall weather is wonderful around the ocean, and reduces a lot of humidity that sticks around the coast during the summer months.

This is also a great time of year to avoid the crowds that linger around Catalina during the summer. If you visit the island before the holiday season begins, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful beaches all to yourself.

And you will get exclusive access to seasonal events! Catalina Island is a beautiful spot to visit no matter the time of year. You can enjoy beautiful beaches, peaceful bison, and a variety of seasonal activities.

And now that you know the best time to visit Catalina for your trip goals, all that’s left to do is plan your trip. Happy travels!