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Discover the Hidden Gem: San Clemente Island

an island in the middle of a body of water

Discover the Hidden Gem: San Clemente Island

San Clemente Island is a beautiful and secluded destination located just 68 miles off the coast of San Diego. It is a hidden gem that is waiting to be explored by outdoor enthusiasts. The island offers a variety of activities, such as fishing, hiking, and camping, making it a popular choice for those seeking an adventure.

The Island’s History

San Clemente Island has a rich history that dates back centuries. It all began with the indigenous Gabrielino-Tongva people, who lived on the island for generations and relied on its plentiful marine life and resources. In the 16th century, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to step foot on the island during his exploration of the California coast. The island was named “San Clemente” in his honor, coinciding with Saint Clement’s feast day on November 23.

In the mid-19th century, as the United States acquired California and its coastal islands, San Clemente Island transitioned from a Native American and Mexican era to an American one. The island played a key role in military activity during World War II when the U.S. Navy took control of it. For decades, the island has been a crucial training and testing ground for naval operations, particularly in amphibious warfare. Despite its military importance, certain parts of the island have remained open to the public for recreational and exploratory purposes. Recently, the island has also become a focal point for ecological research and conservation efforts, aimed at preserving its unique and diverse wildlife.


San Clemente Island is known for its excellent fishing opportunities. The island is surrounded by deep waters, making it a prime spot for catching a variety of fish such as yellowtail, white seabass, and calico bass. The island also offers a unique fishing experience with its underwater kelp forests, providing a natural habitat for a diverse range of fish. Be sure to check the San Clemente Island fishing report before your trip to ensure the best catch.

Join us on one of our many fishing trips and excursions around the island! Leam from our knowledgeable, family friendly crew and skippers who expertly guide you throughout this fun filled excursion.

Hiking and Camping

San Clemente Island offers several hiking trails with stunning views of the ocean and surrounding landscape, making it a great place for those who love to explore on foot. The China Cove Trail is the most popular trail to hike, as it leads to a secluded beach that’s perfect for a picnic or a swim. The island also has designated camping areas for those who want to spend the night under the stars. However, it’s important to note that the island may be closed for military training at times. It’s best to check for any closures before planning your trip.


San Clemente Island is home to a diverse range of wildlife, making it a popular destination for nature lovers. The island is home to several endangered species, including the San Clemente Island fox and the San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike. Visitors may also spot dolphins, whales, and sea lions while exploring the waters surrounding the island.

How to Get There

The only way to access San Clemente Island is by boat. Luckily, here at Dana Wharf, we offer a number of fishing trips to the island! The other option is the Catalina Express, conveniently located at Dana Wharf Sportfishing, offers daily ferry services from both San Pedro and Dana Point to the island. The ferry ride takes approximately two hours, and reservations are recommended. Visitors can also charter a private boat or take a helicopter tour for a unique and scenic experience.

Plan Your Trip

If you are planning a trip to San Clemente Island, it is important to know that the island may be closed occasionally for military training. These closures can range from a few days to a few weeks, so make sure to check for any closures before finalizing your travel plans. Additionally, visitors must obtain a permit from the Navy before visiting the island.

Despite the occasional closures, San Clemente Island is a hidden gem that is worth visiting. It boasts a rich history, diverse wildlife, and a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, San Clemente Island is the perfect destination. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the beauty and adventure of San Clemente Island.