Little Harbor — Catalina Island

Little Harbor on Catalina Island

Little Harbor on Catalina Island

Little Harbor on Catalina Island

Little Harbor on Catalina Island

Little Harbor can be a whole bunch of different things to the various people who visit Catalina Island:

  • For campers, it’s a rockin’ campground.
  • For hikers and walking enthusiasts, it’s a destination along the way when you hike the Trans Catalina Trail, one of the most noteworthy and popular hikes on Catalina Island.
  • For recreational boaters, it’s a lovely anchorage (Sometimes. But not always. More on that below…)
  • For fishing enthusiasts, it’s as good a spot as any to attempt to catch yellowtail or other fish (although honestly, the BEST fishing spot we’ve found near Catalina Island is out around the west end of the island).
  • It’s one of the best spots on the island to view bison — but be careful, the bison are totally unpredictable!
  • It’s an amazing place to view other wildlife too.

What You Need to Know About Anchoring at Little Harbor

When we first decided to head out to anchor at Little Harbor, we asked our friend, the late Jim Dorman, about his experiences there. Jim was a liveaboard who had been cruising around Catalina island waayyyy longer than we had.


His response: “Well, the first thing you need to know about Little Harbor: Watch out for the BFR.”


I asked him, “What’s a BFR?”


He said, “The BIG F*CKING ROCK. It’s a big rock that’s submerged at high tide. You have to make sure to steer clear of it”.


I wish I could give you more details about the exact location of the BFR, but such details have long since faded from my memory.


We never actually had any problematic encounters with the BFR, but we were cruising aboard a much smaller boat than Jim’s. Our boat Typhoon was only 24′. The consensus among our friends who sail 40+ footers is that Little Harbor can feel like a tight squeeze for their vessels, especially when it’s crowded.


In general, my advice would be to give all the rocky outcroppings in Little Harbor a wide berth, ESPECIALLY at high tide. If you plan to anchor in Little Harbor, you might wish to talk to the locals on the island beforehand. They can probably give you clearer directions on how to avoid the BFR.


If you have a choice in the matter, I recommend setting a stern anchor when you’re in Little Harbor — especially if it’s shaping up to be a crowded weekend or holiday on the island.


The other thing you need to know about Little Harbor: It can get rocked by some gnarly swells from the southwest and the west. That usually isn’t a problem during the summer months. When the weather is good, Little Harbor is a lovely anchorage. You couldn’t ask for a prettier spot to spend your time.


But, when southwest swells are rocking the harbor, look out. It can get pretty uncomfortable.


Mike and I sailed Typhoon to Little Harbor at the tail end of the month of May. We had just come from 2 weeks in Cat Harbor. Our plan was to stay 2 weeks and then go back to Cat Harbor.


Things didn’t go according to plan.


After a couple days of being pummeled unmercifully by the southwest swells, I felt like a scrambled egg.


I said to Mike, “Let’s pull up the anchors and go to Avalon.


He thought it over. Avalon isn’t his favorite place — and going to Avalon meant paying for a mooring instead of saving our cash by staying in the free anchorage. But it didn’t take him long to respond with, “Okay. Done.”


I wish we’d had a chance to anchor in Little Harbor when it was at its best. But, we did enjoy hiking to Little Harbor from Two Harbors, so at least we got to spend some quality time on the beach and hiking trails around the harbor.


There you have it: Those are the most important points I’m aware of regarding Little Harbor. I hope this information is helpful to you if you plan to visit Catalina Island in the future.


This page was last updated on 4-26-2019.