I have been living in California for more than a decade but some travel plans never see their destination. One such was to Santa Catalina. Something always came up and the visit took a back seat. Finally this summer, we made it to Catalina. Wohoo!!!!
A short, sweet day trip with my munchkins.
Santa Catalina is a fairly small island around 22 miles long and 8 miles wide located around 35 kms South-West of Los Angeles, California. Total population is around 4100 with 90% of the population living in Avalon, the only incorporated city. The second biggest one being Two Harbors. It is a tourist paradise with over 1 million travelers every year.
HOW TO GET HERE:
You can use boats or helicopters to get here. Ferry rides take around 1 hour while the air ride lasts 15 minutes.
There are two major ferries, Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer while IEH is often chosen for helicopter rides.
We took the Catalina Express from Long Beach to Avalon.
If you want to go to Two Harbors then you have to board the ferry from Dana Point.
Roundtrip fares cost around $74 for adults and $ 58 for kids. The boat ride is about 1 hour long but it is so comfortable that you hardly feel that you are on board for an hour. Also if you are on the top deck you can walk around and enjoy the view.
Do bring snacks with you as the ferry ride make your hungry, especially if you have kids accompanying. We bought snacks from the shop inside the building but there is a small café on the ferry to purchase snacks too.
If you live close to Newport Beach then I suggest taking the Catalina Flyer to get to Avalon which costs pretty much the same.
If you are planning to go on a weekend or a major holiday, do purchase the tickets in advance as the regular seats get sold out pretty quickly and you might end paying more for premiere seating.
Once you reach Avalon, you can enjoy the island on foot, rent a bike or rent a golf cart. I would highly suggest renting a golf cart if you want to see all the tourist attractions and nice views from the mountains and if your little ones are with you.
If its a lazy day trip then you are good to go on foot.
Again, rent the golf carts in advance as they tend to get sold out pretty quickly. There are a lot of rental companies with good rates to choose from. Sometimes you cannot reserve a cart as it is available on first come basis but keep it in might that during a busy season they will rent out pretty quickly so go with companies which let you rent in advance. The rental places are within walking distance from the ferries.
THINGS TO DO/SEE:
Avalon is beautiful with boutique hotels, family owned shops and tourist attractions. A complete list of must see things can be seen on TripAdvisor. There is some kind of activity for everyone.
Some must see attractions include Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, Will Richards Studio, Catalina
Catalina is heaven for water lovers. You can do scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle boating, kayaking and also take glass bottomed boat tours.
For lazy beach fun, head to Descanso Beach Club, a private beach open to public.
To relax and enjoy try the Tasting Tour or have calming massages,
For the adventure types, there is Zipline Tours, Parasail Tour, Jeep Eco Tour, Segway Tour.
There are a lot of places to eat depending on how much you are willing to spend and what you are in a mood for. There are alot of seafood options and if you dont want to spend a fortune head straight to Fish and Chips.
Since my son eats gluten free and was in a mood for pizza we ended up going to Antonio’s Pizzeria. It was fun to see peanut shells all over the floors. The food was a bit pricey but the ambience was worth it.
Trip to Catalina is incomplete without ice-cream from Big Olaf’s and salt water taffy from Llyod’s.
We didn’t plan to stay overnight but we saw some sweet boutique style hotels spread all over the Island. In my opinion a day trip is sufficient to enjoy Catalina but if you are visiting with a group then it might be fun staying over.
Day trip to Catalina was totally worth it. The ferry ride, island experience, good food…..
Do I miss it already? Probably not.
It is a good option if you want to do a getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life but since we did it on a weekend and since it is a tourist attraction, it was super crowded. Maybe it is less crowded on a week day???
Have you visited Catalina?? How was your experience??