All Things Boating Throughout Catalina

Catalina Island is the perfect day trip during the summer months. Here is a directory to the rules of mooring, the most desired anchorages.

CATALINA ISLAND— When arriving at Catalina Island by boat, sailors are met by picturesque waterfronts made more scenic thanks to the tranquil scene of boats bobbing in the harbors. A relatively easy 26-nautical mile crossing from the mainland will bring you to Catalina’s beautiful coves and many amenities that have made the resort island a popular recreational boating destination in Southern California.

Catalina is a popular destination for private boaters with vessels that range from open cabin runabouts to some of the largest and most luxurious yachts. Because of the island’s position, Catalina offers several protected coves on its leeward side that are calm in all but the most severe weather conditions.

 Mooring in Catalina Island

Boating to Catalina Island is made even more convenient by the moorings that make anchoring unnecessary. There are hundreds of moorings in Avalon Harbor and dozens more in Descanso and Hamilton coves, all of which are overseen and managed by the Avalon Harbor Department. Two Harbors and nearby boating areas offer hundreds of more moorings, which are managed by the Catalina Island Company. There are also several coves between the two main harbors that offer moorings and protected anchorage areas.

 Avalon Harbor Mooring Information

  • Over 360 mooring sites are available in Avalon Harbor, Descanso Bay, and Hamilton Cove, located at Catalina Island’s east end.
  • Moorings are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon arrival, stand by outside the Avalon Harbor entrance for a mooring assignment from the Harbor Patrol boat. A patrol boat is waiting outside the harbor entrance 24 hours a day to meet and assist boaters in person. Moorings are not assigned over VHF radio. Mooring fees are payable upon issuance of a mooring. Acceptable payments to the Harbor Patrol Officer include cash, check, or credit card (except American Express). To pay by phone call (866) 298-4341. You will be given a receipt and your booking ID number.
  • Avalon is a no-discharge area. No sewage may be discharged, treated, or not. A free pump-out station is located near the fuel dock, by the Casino building. A pump-out station is located at the main dock in Two Harbors and a pump-out boat in Catalina Harbor.
  • During the summer months, service boats make free trash pick-ups daily and in Avalon on weekends during the winter months.
  • Plastic trash bags are available at no charge from the trash service boat or at the Harbor Master’s office at the end of the Green Pleasure Pier.
  • To ensure peaceful harmony on the island, all generators must be secured from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • The anchoring area for Avalon is located outside the breakwater, west of the Casino building, at least 300 feet from moorings and the Casino Dive Park, with a depth of roughly 150 feet. At all other locations, you may only anchor outside mooring areas. These are not patrolled, and you anchor at your own risk. The shore boat does not service the anchorage area.
  • Dinghy docks are available throughout Avalon Harbor for dinghies 14 feet or smaller. We recommend dinghy locks.
  • A shoreboat/water-taxi service is also available. There is a charge per person, per trip each way. The shoreboat/water taxis generally run from 7:30-1:30 a.m. and can be contacted at (310) 363-3935, or channel 9 on your VHF radio.

Mooring Information for Two Harbors and Beyond

  • Over 700 mooring sites are available at Catalina Island’s west end, around Two Harbors in secluded coves, landings, beaches, and harbors, including Isthmus Cove, Fourth of July Cove, Cherry Cove, Emerald Bay, Howland’s Landing, Little Geiger, White’s Landing, Moonstone, Hen Rock, Buttonshell Cove, Catalina Harbor, and Wells Beach.
  • Moorings are available via reservation. Every Thursday at midnight, availability will be uploaded for the weekend. Upon arrival, contact the Two Harbors Harbor Department via VHF Channel 09 to pay your fees and find your assignment.
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m.-7 a.m. and apply for all generator usage.
  • Always observe the five-mile per hour, no-wake speed limit near mooring areas and anchorages.
  • Gas, diesel, pump-out station, and water are available year-round from the fuel dock; propane is also available on shore.
  • A trash pick-up vessel service is available in the coves during the summer months.
  • Anchoring is always at your own risk. Anchoring is permitted 100 yards outside the mooring area and is administered by the Two Harbors Harbor Department.
  • For information about mooring outside the Avalon area, please visit Two Harbors Mooring Reservations & Fees.

Best Places to Anchor Around Catalina Island

Catalina Island’s Harbor Department allows anchoring 100 yards outside the island’s mooring area. Boats can use anchors from the bow, stern, or two bow anchors. The Harbor Department administers the Two Harbors anchorage area, and vessels can only anchor for less than 14 days.

Catalina Island offers a breathtaking place to drop your boat’s anchor and relax in the sun. One of the top places to anchor your boat is just north of Pin Rock, but this area is very shallow, so be careful depending upon the tide and the size of the boat you are operating. In addition, Pin Rock, near Cat Harbor, offers more opportunities for anchoring and floating in the island’s waters.

Another great place to anchor around Catalina Island is at Emerald Cove, where boaters have terrific views of the island and surrounding waters.

It is always smart to ensure you are anchoring properly at Catalina Island. For questions or to confirm you are anchoring in a permitted area, contact the island’s Harbor Department.

Catalina Island Marinas

Catalina Island is home to a few marinas that offer supplies and gas. Marinas serving boaters visiting the island include the City of Avalon Harbor Department, Avalon Marine Dock, Avalon Harbor Marine, and Two Harbors Enterprises.

2 thoughts on “All Things Boating Throughout Catalina

  • July 7, 2022 at 11:49 am

    A map would have been a nice addition to this great article. I’ve been boating to Catalina for over 50 years and had to look up Wells Beach and Pin Rock.

  • July 14, 2022 at 8:14 am

    I have published a cruising guide that gives the details, “Anchoring at Catalina No Moorings? No Problem.” With photos and chartlets, it details 28 coves including the 11 that have moorings. Ebook is available too!



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