Two Harbors: A world away from the hustle-and-bustle of Avalon
Avalon is not the only destination on Catalina Island. About 20 miles west is Two Harbors, a remote village at the narrowest point of the island. True to its name there is a harbor on either side of the unincorporated town, where about 200 people live full-time.
Two Harbors is about a 45-minute boat ride from Avalon Harbor and is an ideal destination for boaters who want to enjoy the rustic outdoor life on the island. There are many small coves and beaches that boaters can access by sea or land and set up camp. If you want to get away from the water then moor your boat, make your way into Two Harbors, and find a trail to hike into the island’s interior.
The town itself is small – you can see one end of Two Harbors from the other side. The biggest attraction in town is the building managed by Isthmus Yacht Club, which was built in 1864 and served as the Union Army’s barracks during the Civil War.
A short hike from the center of Two Harbors is the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center. The center, equipped with eight laboratories and home to 24 researchers, supports marine-based education and research. There are a few options for overnight accommodations. Adjacent to USC Wrigley Marine Science Center is Fisherman’s Cove. The beach there is open to the public but leased out to King Harbor Yacht Club.
Immediately outside of town is Two Harbors Campground, where you can rough it with the best of them and set up a camp at your own reserved space. The campground is located on the western edge of Two Harbors and overlooks Isthmus Cove. What makes this campground extra special is its onsite beach, where you can take a break from napping inside your tent or roasting marshmallows over an open flame and instead take a quick dip in the water (or just lay out on the sand).
On the other side of Two Harbors is Fourth of July Cove, home to a small boat moorage. Boats moored here are very well protected. Getting to Two Harbors is relatively easy from Fourth of July Cove – take the shoreboat or your dinghy into town.
Just beyond Fourth of July Cove is Cherry Valley, a summer camp destination for the Boy Scouts of America.
Continuing east from Two Harbors will take you to the far end of the island, home to Emerald Bay and Doctors Cove. There are ample camping, hiking, boating and aquatic opportunities to enjoy at Emerald Bay.
Snorkeling, swimming and diving activities can be enjoyed at all the coves at and near Two Harbors.
Boaters who make it to the other side of the isthmus and into Catalina Harbor might not have as many coves and beaches to enjoy, although this side of Two Harbors might be an ideal stop for liveaboards. The biggest drawback to Catalina Harbor is access since travel times are dependent on weather conditions. Harsh weather conditions might make for a longer trip around the island’s west end and into the harbor.
No matter where you might meander during your visit to Two Harbors there are two destinations in town you will quickly become familiar with: Harbor Reef Restaurant and Two Harbors General Store.
Harbor Reef Restaurant is Two Harbors’ social hot spot. The bar area is always busy. The patio area is perfect for enjoying a drink or meal while overlooking the harbor and ocean.
A few feet away is the general store, where you can buy goods for camping, angling, or everyday needs.
There are also kayaks and bicycles available for rent.