Last year some friends and I stayed at Two Harbors camp ground on Catalina Island just outside Los Angeles, CA. In what has now become a yearly tradition we headed back this year at the beginning of spring to enjoy some of the best untamed nature left in Southern California.
The camp ground is divided into tent camping and tent-cabins. The tent camping is all quite low to the beach and there are tons of great spots to stay. The tent cabins are canvas covered wood frames with 6 dirty old cots, a camping stove, a lantern, and some propane.
Last year we hiked south out of Two Harbors up into the tops of the mountains. It was a very hard hike up hill and the closest beach worth visiting this direction is 7 miles away so we got some great views but never made it to the secluded beaches we dreamed of. This year, we knew better and hiked north along the coast.
It is easy to assume that because you are on an island only a few hundred meters from the ocean that it would be quite cool. This assumption is wrong. Above sea level about 50 feet the temperature climbs almost 15 degrees. Catalina is very much desert terrain. The hike along the northern coast has spectacular views of the reefs and coves. Each cove is privately leased and there is no public beach access in this direction. Being the early season, we were able to “poach” as one local called it, a few smaller coves where private yacht clubs have small unattended club houses with few amenities.
Don’t let the map of the island fool you. Although as the crow flies going from one side of the cove to the other is quite close, the distance by foot is almost 5 times the distance. Some coves were almost set a mile back into the mountains before coming out the other side.
Eventually we made it about 5 miles from Two Harbors and chose a beautiful private beach half used by a wonderful looking children’s camp that looks like it was straight out of the 1950’s and the Los Angeles Yacht club’s beach. Along this cove there are spectacular tide pools, caves, and even a blow hole. The tide was low and we were able to explore them thoroughly.
For a virtual reality view from the hiking trail along the northern cliffs of Twin Harbors east harbor, view my virtual reality picture of Twin Harbors [6mb download, please be patient].
We began the trip back to Two Harbors. The trip back got cold and windy very quickly around 3:00pm and we luckily made it back to camp around 6:00pm. After a ten mile hike through what may as well have been a desert, we were exhausted and cooked and drank until the full moon rose and we went to bed.
After two years of camping at Two Harbors I have come to a few conclusions:
1) You are much better off going to the beach at the campground. Hike to the South/East side of the Two Harbors isthmus if you want a change of scenery or less people, but you’re better off not trying to hike to a “secluded” beach. There aren’t any; particularly any public ones.
2) The best tent-cabins are 10 and 11. They are the closest to the beach. We always stay in TC01 because 1, 2, and 3 are the first to open at the beginning of the season. They were just setting up 10 through 15 when we left. I would love to go back in the summer and stay at 10 or 11.
3) Although the ferry allows two bags per people, we had no problem bringing a suitcase, sleeping bag, and a cooler and could likely have brought more. This may be because we go early in the season and the boat isn’t very full.
If you like camping and you want to get away Two Harbors is the place to do it!!