Catalina Island is SOOOO Expensive, Top 5 Ways to Save Money on Meals While Vacationing in Avalon, Catalina Island

We all love a bargain, and meals on Catalina is NOT one of them. One of the reasons food is so expensive on the Island is cost of shipping. Due to its proximity to the mainland all food needs to be transported either by airplane  (fresh seafood and meat), or by barge transportation for other supplies. These logistics add to overall expenses, which are then reflected in the on-island prices.  So we came up with a list of ways to eat on a budget. With some insider tricks and savy choices, you can stretch your dollar and still have good food.

Here are the top five ways to save money on meals. These options are listed from most budget conscious to least:


  1. Bring Your Own Food: With food being the budget killer on the island, especially for larger families, consider bringing your own packed meals and snacks from the mainland, to avoid spending excessively on restaurant food. With a little planning you can eat all your favorite foods from home at prices you can stomach. With a small cooler packed full you can use the lockers at the boat terminal, a short walk from downtown allowing you to store your cooler and grab food as needed. See prices/measurements above as of 2023, to understand how to pack. By doing this, you can bypass the average cost of meals, which range from $17 to $55 per person at sit down restaurants.

Photo courtesy of Ev D.

2) Visit the Local Grocery Store: Catalina Island has one grocery store only and offers reasonably priced options. Instead of dining out, head to Vons and explore their deli section, which offers a wide variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner sandwiches at reasonable prices. While they have a menu of made to order sandwiches you can feel free to customize them to your liking. You can also purchase chips and drinks to round out the meal. Additionally, Vons has daily made side and main dishes, sold by weight, which are quite affordable and can be bought in bulk making it perfect for feeding an entire family.

Courtesy of Jay P.

3) Opt for Affordable Fast Food: Coney Island, a local favorite, is conveniently located across the street from the beach and offers various affordable fast-food options, from fries to burgers and shakes, you’ll find classic hamburger stand foods here. One of our favorites is their charbroiled chicken sandwich with house-made thousand island dressing, (ask for it on this sandwich as it normally just has mayo). Its delicious and a budget-friendly choice. Another choice is to get a whole pizza to go (large and filling) from Antonios pizzeria and eat it on the beach. 

Courtesy of Lupe C.

4) Take Advantage of Happy Hours:If you’re just visiting the island for the day, consider having a substantial meal before boarding the Catalina Express passenger ferry, and then pick up a few light snacks at the Vons grocery store for lunch. Next, take advantage of the happy hours on the island. Many restaurants and bars offer special deals during these hours, allowing you to enjoy delicious food and beverages at discounted prices. Make sure to ask around to find out which places are offering what in terms of their current offerings. One place we visit regularly is the Sand Trap restaurant, which offers $2 tacos. It’s a nice walk out of town to the golf course and features all outdoor seating.

5) Split a Meal: If you feel like you might be missing something by not fine dining on Catalina Island then here is your hack. Restaurants on the island offer large portions, making it an excellent idea to split a meal. Not only will this save you money, you wont have that overly stuffed feeling when you leave the table so you can jump right back into all the activities, a double win in our book! 


Now you know how to save money on the island, especially when it comes to food expenses. By being mindful of your dining budget, you can give yourself permission to indulge in a cost-saving 30-minute massage at This budget-friendly, shorter massage will be tailored to your specific needs, ensuring you can maximize your time on the table and enjoy a personalized, relaxing session. Reallocate the funds saved from dining to indulge in this blissful treat, and leave your worries behind as skilled hands work their magic amidst the beautiful beaches and coastal beauty of the island. Enjoy your affordable vacation, knowing you’ve found the perfect balance between indulgence and saving.