We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

Trippy, CA
Level Contributor
25 posts
7 reviews
Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

Avalon is v-e-r-y different from all the other Channel Islands I've been to.

Let's go from worst to best:

1. Golf carts everywhere. No the quiet electric type. The noisy gas burning type. All of town which is very walkable is full of noise and smell from these contraptions 24/7. Terrible.

2. You're pretty much trapped in Avalon if you don't want to pay exuberant prices for tour operators. Walked up Hermit Gulch to the lone pine viewpoint and back via Wrigley. That was OK. You could see peace and quiet and tranquility on the other side of the island. But not for you. The climb up the ridge was something you'd probably want to do once if any.

3. There are no beaches in town to speak of. None. Some in our party went to Descanso Beach. A private beach that let you grace their premises for a fee. They reported rather unpleasant drunk folks at the noisy bar abutting the beach (this was early PM).

4. OK minus snorkeling at Lover's cover and Casino point. Nice abundance of fish, less variety and some kelp at Casino point. Poor visibility in both places, made worse by fish feeding by tour guides(!). Both within walking distance from town which is nice. Casino point on a Sunday looks like a zoo with troupes getting marched off to dive ... thirty feet from shore at a tiny cordoned off area, abutted by boats. In general anywhere you try to swim, the boat parking (with oil leakage and septic tanks) is right beyond you, or they get right of way (at Lover's cove).

A bit of advice for the folks running this island:

1. Ban noisy golf carts. Allow only quiet electric ones. (Do it gradually over a few years, if needed). These carts are ruining your island. I for one will not be back.

2. Get public transportation up to the ridgeline to cater to day hikers. Take us up. Bring us back. Share your island. Don't lock people off into silly dusty jeep tours.

What a disappointment. And expensive too... Despite the hefty expenses we cut the trip a day short. Couldn't stand the noise..

12 replies to this topic
Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
Level Contributor
22 717 posts
262 reviews
1. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

My husband took me there years ago, I felt exactly the same way.

Manhattan Beach...
Level Contributor
4 946 posts
120 reviews
2. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

Agree. You can probably have a good day if you catch a tour of the rest of the island from Avalon when you first arrive. I have had some awesome snorkeling, seeing 8 foot sharks and rays about 100 feet below me, but also on the same outing seeing used toilet paper floating on the surface. If you aren't diving it just seems like a lot of work to get there for not such a great payoff.

Edited: 05 September 2017, 01:06
Oakland, California
Destination Expert
for Big Sur
Level Contributor
3 948 posts
13 reviews
3. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

I've always wanted to go, but have been put off by the lack of good hotels and a nagging feeling that the island isn't well kept up. Why can't Catalina be more like Capri, the fabulous island near Naples? Is it a lack of political will? Locals not wanting more visitors?

Level Contributor
671 posts
55 reviews
4. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

Wow! I have had many fun times in Avalon, and I am a camper/nature lover as well as someone who can enjoy a touristy town with character. Maybe avoid busy summer weekends, to get a less crowded experience?

Pacifica, California
Destination Expert
for Pacifica
Level Contributor
11 440 posts
4 reviews
5. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

The old Huell Howser episode about the flying fish cruise from Avalon just popped into my head.


I haven't been to Avalon since I was a kid. I always thought it was pretty boring, but it would be a great place to go if you just want to get away from everything and everybody for a few days.

Edited: 05 September 2017, 04:25
Eureka, California
Level Contributor
3 445 posts
36 reviews
6. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

FWIW, I spend a lovely long late summer day on Avalon a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Thought it was beautiful, the people were kind and helpful, and it made a great getaway from Los Angeles. Would love to go back.

Irvine, California
Level Contributor
1 303 posts
7. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

If you expected Avalon to be anything like a national park, then this is your own fault. It's very obviously meant for tourists, and the tourists enjoy it.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
33 321 posts
6 456 reviews
8. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

We have had a very good time - and seasons vary as to when to vary.

Sorry you did not like it

Thanks for your trip report.

Did you visit Labor Day week-end when everything every where is busy

or some other time?

That would be helpful to know.

Did you do the golf carts? Its the only way to tour more of Catalina and get away from Avalon and see more.

That is why there are golf carts - so just wondering what you thought if you rented one which is what yes tourists do

Yes, most people who visit are tourists -very few go there for work.

Edited: 05 September 2017, 20:29
Moorpark, California
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Catalina Island
Level Contributor
15 858 posts
59 reviews
9. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

I totally disagree. We've been going to Avalon since the late 70's and love it! We also have been to Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and Anacapa Islands. It's really apples and oranges. We got married at Two Harbors in 1991. Again, very different from Avalon. We seldom go during busy weekends or when the cruise ships are in port. Yes, it's a tourist destination. Really not sure what you were expecting... Did you know that Catalina Island Conservancy owns 88% of the island? www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php…

Edited: 06 September 2017, 20:05
Manhattan Beach...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
Level Contributor
21 977 posts
3 reviews
10. Re: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.

We love going to Catalina Island and usually go in Oct or Feb, but have also been there in summer. We love staying at Pavilion Hotel, a nice quiet respite with a grass garden in the middle of the property, right on Crescent Ave. They include a hot breakfast and wine and cheese around the fire pit. We go to the small beach right in front.

They had been having a drought and had to conserve water and in summer, in CA, things are brown and dry. There is an Avalon Trolley that circles town twice an hour and free shuttle to Descanso Beach during summer.

Reply to: Avalon is a noisy tourist trap. Beware.
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Avalon