Catalina Island Visitor Information
Getting Around on Catalina Island
Thinking of coming to Catalina Island and staying awhile? If you plan on getting around on the island, start thinking bicycles and golf carts.
Although there are over 200 miles of roads on Catalina Island, automobiles and motorcycles are not exactly welcome. The organization that now controls moat of the island, the Catalina Island Conservancy, place a strict limit on how many motor vehicles can be brought to the island and registered. Permanent and semi-permanent residents must wait as long as ten years for an opening.
The reason is that the residents have made preservation of Catalina's fragile ecosystem their top priority. The Catalina Island Conservancy is a private, non-profit organization, the goals of which are to manage the island in a way that allows for eco-friendly tourism that has minimal impact on the local environment.
The good news is that bicycle and golf cart rentals are plentiful; visitors can also bring their own bicycles if they wish. However, even bicycles are regulated; residents currently pay a $60 annual fee to register their bicycles, and visitors will need to purchase a permit while they are there. If you plan to ride into the back country, you'll need a mountain bike (the kind with "knobby" tires) and a helmet, and you'll have to tell the good folks at the Conservancy what part of the island you're planning to visit - for your own protection and safety as well as that of the island's natural habitat.
Another way to get around the island is on foot. Day hikes are a popular activity on Catalina Island, but here too, you'll need a permit and report on what parts of the island you plan on visiting. Unlike bicycle permits however, hiking permits are free.