As a travel and vacation destination, Catalina Island is perfect for a day trip or even a few days. It has an abundance of activities to suit the many types of travelers and adventurers. One can browse the shops, eat at a variety of restaurants, go to a spa, or take an organized tour. There is also an abundance of outdoor activities such as diving, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, and boating if one prefers those. I even saw visitors lying on the beach soaking in the sun.
The day we traveled to Catalina Island started out with typical June Gloom in southern CA. We knew it would burn off, but it made for a cold start. We found a great deal on Groupon for the Catalina Flyer. (You can also take the Catalina Express, the other ferry service to Catalina Island.) The ticket said to arrive at the dock for departure at 8AM. Based on the number of people already in line for the ferry it would have been better to arrive more like 7AM. There were a couple hundred passengers already lined up (or at least it seemed like it). We ended up boarding last and got one of the few remaining seats on the very top deck.
The ride to Catalina Island was about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Halfway through the ride we went down to the second deck because the wind was so cold.
The ferry was completely full and at standing room only. It was also very loud, as you have the gamut of travelers from singles to couples, to families, to the party crowd riding the ferry to the island. Ear plugs or a good headset might be something to take to drown the noise if you prefer quiet. (We also went on a Saturday. The ferry passengers during the week may be different.)
The waves made the ferry bounce, so if you get sea sick I’d recommend lots of Dramamine before the trip and during the ride.
We departed at 9:00AM and arrived at Catalina Island about 10:15AM. The town of Avalon is quite picturesque even from the docks. You can clearly see the Catalina Island Museum upon arrival. The water is so clear near the shoreline that you can see down to the rocks and the beautiful sea life swimming around.
After landing we walked from the dock over to the main area of Avalon. The main street, and some side streets, have a plethora of shops and restaurants for visitors to enjoy.
We chose to walk by all the shops and head to the Yacht Club and Catalina Museum to take photos. It is a beautiful walk as the street, shops, and art work are well maintained.
In fact, the island is the most well maintained and clean place I have ever vacationed. Even the public restrooms were spotless! I’d say the islanders take a lot of pride in their home.
After the walk we decided to have lunch. We chose to eat at Luau Larry’s since I had seen a drink listed on their online menu I wanted to try. When in Rome….right?
The service there, and actually every place we went, was outstanding. The islanders were friendly and wanted to make sure you enjoyed your visit.
After our drink and burger we went shopping, did more walking, and then stopped in at the Bluewater Grill for dessert.
If I ever go back I’ll make sure to try the Bluewater’s main menu
items. The desserts were incredible! We couldn’t decide on only one so we had their cheesecake and the mud pie.
One note I want to add is that the island is not overpriced. Everything we purchased was priced as if you were at a standard restaurant, or shop, in Los Angeles. It was evident that they do not price gouge just because they are an island away from other places where people could eat or shop.
In order to get a decent seat on the ferry for the ride back to the main land, we made sure to arrive at the dock by 3:30PM since the ferry was to dock at 4PM. We were one of the first in line but it did not take long for the line to form. By about 3:45PM the line was already quite long. This time we sat on the second deck right at the rail so we can see the island from a distance.
The trip definitely met, more like exceeded, my expectations. I can see why the islanders love Catalina so much. It is, as my aunt said, like another world. To think it is only an hour off the coast of CA! Hopefully I’ll get to go back some day and with my husband next time. Going with a friend is perfect for a day trip, but I think an overnight trip would be perfect for vacationing as a couple. I’d love to see what the hotels are like and what the island is like at night.