The Ultimate Packing Guide: Catalina Island Edition

The Ultimate Packing Guide: Catalina Island Edition

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Past an hour-long ferry ride off the coast of Los Angeles lies Catalina Island, a semi-remote oasis steeped in idyllic small town with old Hollywood charm. Catalina offers a little bit of everything, from superb beachside cocktail lounging to multi-day backpacking along the island’s dramatic aquamarine coastline. However,  like any classic California climate, the challenge lies in preparing ensembles ready for warm days and frosty nights, all while packing light (lugging a large suitcase on and off a ferry has resulted in more than one trip to the chiropractor, just take our word for it.) Whatever your outdoor inclination may be, we’re sharing our suitcase must-haves for the ultimate Catalina weekend below. 


Whether you’re enjoying the quick scenic trip along the Avalon Coastline Trail or traversing the island-long Trans-Catalina, you’ll need your fair share of layers for the unpredictable Catalina breeze and some outdoor basics to optimize your hiking experience. 


Base Layer

Sure, you may not need to stay true to our fave ski-layers edit for this one, but we believe a base layer is essential, even in SoCal. For a day spent climbing Santa Catalina’s rocky terrain, we recommend throwing on our most reliable activewear basic, the Girlfriend Bella Scoop Tank, as comfortable as it is universal. You’ll need a base layer once the California sun comes out to play, just make sure to apply some SPF to those exposed shoulders (we’re loving Vacation Inc.’s reef-safe Mineral Sunscreen).



There’s only one biker short we’d die for, and that’s the Beyond Yoga Biker Short, which provides the same ease and breeze of your classic hiking shorts minus the awkward fit and inevitable chafing. The thick material and mid-thigh length of this activewear heavy-hitter make for perfect warm-climate hike wear. Plus, the built-in pockets make it easy to whip out your phone to take a pic of some jaw-dropping untouched seaside landscapes or some wild-grazing buffalo. If you somehow manage to evade the wrath of the thigh-chafe (more power to you), Patagonia’s Garden Short offers a wonderfully comfortable high-waist fit with a baggier feel that offers easy movement.


Second Layer

Call us crazy, but we believe no outdoor activity would be complete without a cozy middle layer. We’re loving the Primo Fleece from outdoor Voices, offering a flattering fit with a hoodie and bungee cinching to boot. This OV favorite will keep you both optimally warm and optimally chic, whether you’re kicking back at Luau Larry’s happy hour or stargazing at the Hermit Gulch Overnight Camp after a day of nonstop hiking.

Shell (because screw wind chill)

For the unpredictable coastal winds often blowing across the island, we recommend a wind-proof shell to get you through. Our favorite is another Outdoor Voices addition (can you tell we’re obsessed?): the OV Windbreaker Pullover.


For a multi-day journey across Catalina, we recommend Merrell’s Moab 3, a fan-favorite in all-terrain hiking shoes that won’t leave you with crippling blisters after a day’s use. For a more low-key stroll, Hoka’s Arahi 6 offers comfort and versatility, perfect for perusing the Botanical Gardens, flying your way through the Island’s zip line tour, or window shopping along Crescent Avenue.


Water Sports

Offering a wide array of seaside entertainment, Santa Catalina’s emerald-blue bays are sure to lure you whether you’re a snorkeler, kayaker, or cabana connoisseur. With that in mind, you’ll need a swimsuit that can do it all. We’re loving thisTwo-Piece Set from sustainable-swimwear fave Stone Fox Swim, and this Vintage-Inspired One Piece staple from Noserider Surf Club. For a water-resistant shoe, we’ll always go with the Teva Hurricane Drift, ideal for a day at the Descanso Beach Club or taking a kayak tour across kelp beds and secluded coves. Plus, we have it on good authority that this sandal can survive a multi-day rafting excursion and three days at Coachella. Need we say more?


Out on the Town

For the evening portion of our weekend getaway, we’re packing prepared for both a balmy night out and a chilly coastal breeze. Whatever the night may bring, we’re taking our trusty Fanny Pack from Baboon to the Moon, the best all-around adaptable bag for every occasion.


For an evening that ranges on the chilly side, we’re bringing along the Ribbed Long Sleeve from Splits59, a sleek basic that layers well under this super cute Color Block Sweater from BackCountry. Pair with these groovy Canvas Painter Pants from Backbeat Co, and you’ve got the ideal ensemble for taking in the Catalina sunset. If you’re feeling wild (do it, we dare), go canvas-on-canvas with Patagonia’s Iron Forge Hemp CaRibbed Long Sleevenvas Ranch Jacket, ideal outerwear that protects against any drastic temperature drop.


If weather permits, we’re loving the Grace Dress from Lisa Says Gah, delivering an airy organza look for a summer night seaside (should you pair it with your Teva Hurricane Drifts? We’ll let you be the judge.)

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