Guidelines of camping on Catalina - All camp sites are now fee based on the island. You will need a permit for almost everything. This includes camping, mountain biking, fire wood;etc. You should call for prices and information, since prices change seasonally. Also, weather on the island quickly gets hot on the inland island areas in summer. Summer may not be the best time to visit the interior sites. Early Spring for hiking is usually the best time to see the island by foot. For the hot summer months, kayaking to shore camp sites and camping closer to shore will be a way to keep cool and enjoy the ocean.
The highest campground on the Island. Good views of the Ocean and hills and higher mountain vegition. Some road and trail hiking to the camp sites. Can have low clouds/mist in the morning.
Little Harbor Campground
One of the more popular camp grounds on the backside of Catalina. Has the only good surfing beach on the Island. A good easy one-way day hike from twin harbors. Excellent location for a base camp to explore the back side and middle canyon of the Island. Also one of the few camp sites on the island with no light pollution from the mainland, since you are facing west.
Parsons Landing Campground
Parsons is a easy day hike or mountain bike from Twin Harbors. Many kayaks and catamarans use the beach while camping here. Is a good base camp to explore the west end of the island. Buffalo often share the beach here. There are natural springs and seeps above the beach that they use. Parson's can be a very rough place to land a kayak or boat do to large swells and breaking surfin the afternoon or durning stormy conditions. Emerald Cove is close by for day use of the middle beach not used by boy scouts. Indian rock is a great diving location there with rocks and kelp around it.
Two Harbors Campground
This is the best base campground if you are doing more than just hiking. A good location if you also want to bring a bike and eat at a restaurant or take a hot shower. Good place to meet people for group camping, since you can see the boat come in and meet them. Has great expansive views of the Isthmus, Bird Rock, Ship Rock, Fisherman's Cove, and Forth of July and Cherry Coves and the San Pedro/LA lights at night. Great in Winter and Spring.
Hermit Gulch Campground
This is a good spot to stay in Spring and the cooler months. Is a great location and just far enough away from Avalon to keep humanity at bay. Camp is right next to the Wrigley Botanical Garden and Memorial. The garden has one of the rarest collections of cactus and channel island plants in the World. The memorial is made with the now famous Catalina tile made right on the Island in the 20's and 30's. This campground is also a great place to stay when the City is hosting one of it's famous festival's or events. Many of the festivals are in September and the campground can fill up fast. These included - Catalina Wine Festival, Canon Captures Catalina, Catalina Island Blues Festival, Catalina Microbrew Fest, The Catalina Festival of Art;etc.
Day Sites for Lunch Stops and Swimming
There are a lot of tiny coves on the island that are great day lunch and swimming spots. A lot of good ones are between Cherry Cove and Little Gieger cove. These are tiny and rocky coves that are only good for kayak landings. They have good diving and kelp and some have good fishing out side the kelp. These locations are popular with kayakers from the summer camps and group kayak tours. Not great in the afternoon due to wind waves. Make sure to have shoes or water sandals when landing.
Private Camps Only
Boy Scouts of America Camp Cherry Valley
Cherry Valley (310) 510-2895
Boy Scouts of America Camp Emerald Bay
Emerald Bay (310) 510-1795
Buttonshell Beach (310) 510-0846
Catalina Island Camps
Howlands Landing (310) 696-2267