The best blend of relaxation and luxury without buying plane tickets.
We’re spoiled on so many levels, here in Los Angeles, we have the beaches, the mountains, the snow and the California sunshine!
I took a trip on a sailing ship… and an hour later I reached –Jamaica – NOT, but on the charming little island of Catalina!
~Dry facts~ The island is 22 miles (35 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) across at its greatest width. The island is located about 22 miles (35 km) south-southwest of Los Angeles, California. The highest point on the island is 2,097 feet (639 m) Mt. Orizaba. Santa Catalina is part of the Channel Islands of California archipelago and lies within Los Angeles County.
~Avalon~ Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city, Avalon is the perfect place to take a break from the demands of daily life. Avalon is the main destination for visitors to the island, visit the Avalon Page.
~Two Harbors~ Located on the west end at the island’s Isthmus, Two Harbors is a unique and rustic small island village getaway for outdoor and boating enthusiasts. This village has one restaurant, one bar and snack shop and one General Store. Visit our Two Harbors Page.
~WHERE~ In LA County! I know, right?
~HOW TO GET THERE~
Drive down to Long Beach or San Pedro in LA. You can park at the huge parking station at the port.
You can get all the ticket details and more information on their official website.
Buy a ticket for the Catalina Express and hop on! In about 1.5 hours, you reach the quaint island of Catalina. I’d say go and visit Avalon, it’s thriving and has a lot more to do than the laid back Two Harbors.
Heads Up – If you tend to get sea sick, buy anti-histamine tablets and take them about 30 minutes before you get on. You can also find them on the island, in case you forget to carry them.
Option 1 –Villa Portofino is a charming European style seaside resort that’s consistently rated as one of Avalon’s best hotels. They offer free wi-fi and complimentary breakfast. It’s a buffet style mini breakkie with croissants, fruits, tea, coffee and juices.
You can also make use of the complimentary beach chairs, towels, and have the concierge store your luggage for the day, after you check out. So if you get the last ticket out on the Catalina Express (which I recommend) it works out perfectly as you can go make the most of your last day!!
What I love about this hotel is that it’s right in the middle of the action. If you step out and count a dozen steps, BAM! you’re on the beach. You can walk to almost anywhere and everywhere on the little island.
I stayed here for one night, and booked it on the same day, I was lucky as someone had called in and cancelled as I was waiting in the lobby. So I would highly recommend booking in advance, and not being as spontaneous (or lazy) as me, because these fab ones have the best location and are often sold out!
Heads Up- It’s a non-smoking property and doesn’t allow pets. Don’t miss the cute cabanas on the rooftop, there’s no room service available there but it comes with a fabulous view of the main street of Avalon. They also have their own quaint restaurant in front of the property.
Option 2 – Another beautiful hotel, that’s set in an elegantly landscaped tropical garden, is the Pavilion.
This one is also steps away from the beach, and closer to the dock. I’d say it’s a tad more expensive but the rooms are larger and the hotel is nestled on a bigger plot of land with ample space to lounge around.
They offer complimentary breakfast and a wine and cheese reception everyday in the evening, in addition, they also offer luggage service from the Avalon boat dock to the room.
Option 3 – Another sort after hotel is the Vista Del Mar. I didn’t get a chance to check it out, but I heard some rave things about it, so if you’re planning a trip to Catalina, may as well check it out.
~WHAT TO DO~
Are you kidding me? There’s so much to do you’ll be exhausted, for real.
To make the most of a two-day trip you have to have a little bit of sunshine on the land, and a little bit of fun in the sea! Avalon has so many fun activities to do, it’s an exceptional romantic getaway for a weekend and a phenomenal holiday spot for a bunch of friends.
~Snorkeling~ We found Dive Catalina to give us the best deal for snorkeling, especially the birthday discount on the rentals. They rent out the gear and have an instructor give you a guided tour for roughly an hour and a half and then if you wish you can continue exploring underwater with their gear for a couple hours.
Make sure you have company when you’re out in the sea, as it can be dangerous to hang out there alone. I was in there for over 2 hours and felt quite dizzy after I got out of the water. So if it’s your first time, take it easy and feel the joy of hearing your own breath underwater and exploring the surreal world in the ocean.
Make sure to go to Lovers Cove as it’s the best spot for snorkeling. It’s got a vibrant marine life. We even spotted a sea turtle!
Heads Up – If you have a go-pro or another water proof camera, please carry it, or you’ll end up buying a poor quality disposable underwater film camera like me and regret the picture quality later.
If you wanna laze about and be a beach bum then rent a cabana at the Descanso Beach. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy a cocktail and fish n chips with your bae or simply read a book and chill by the sea. Perfect place to take that selfie and tell everyone about #TheGoodLife
~Spa Services~ The Island Spa is located in a gorgeous setting. It looked very inviting, but I was too kicked about the water sports! They had a wide range of services available but I was content in browsing through their yummy smelling product line.
If you love beautiful things and also have an adventurous side that seeks thrill then Avalon gives you a good blend of luxury, relaxation and adventure sports.
~ Other Activities ~ You can choose from boating, kayaking, paddle boards, para-sailing, fishing, stand-up paddle boards to scuba diving! There are various vendors there, so make sure to get a good deal on the rentals. You can rent a golf cart or hop onto the free beach shuttle to get around the island. There are many cute shops along the beach including a little supermarket and pharmacy for little knick-knack supplies.
$$$ – For a one night and two day stay for two, you can end up shelling out anywhere between $750 to $1000 depending on all activities you want to do.
$$ Catalina express rates are $74:50 for a round trip from San Pedro or Long Beach to Avalon. Dana point is $2 more.
If you plan on staying for two nights and three days and plan to have power packed days with activities and spa services, then be prepared to spend $1000 upwards.
If you plan this trip well in advance, you can get a more accurate indication of the amount you will spend. I have only ball parked an estimate based on my trip. The good thing is this trip can be done on a budget while you still make the most of your visit to the island. So don’t let it get in the way of you getting out there and having a great holiday.
Planning you birthday?
Catalina Island really makes it a Happy Birthday for you. They give you a complimentary trip on the Catalina express, you also get to indulge in a few freebies at the restaurants and avail of some awesome discounts on rental rates. They keep updating the deals, so remember to get a brochure when you’re buying the boat tickets. The list on the back of the brochure will have all the deals mentioned. The way to redeem all the deals is to wear the birthday badge all day!
~WHERE TO EAT ~
$$ I liked Mi Casita so much, that we ate there two days in a row and stuck to the Mexican Fajitas and the Micheladas. It’s to die for! The service is a bit slow but the food makes up for it.
$But if you’re looking for a cheap place to eat on the go then try Original Antonio’s on 114 Sumner Avenue, it’s a half block from the bay. You can buy pizzas by the slice or get salads and pastas with cheap beer.
$$ The Descanso Beach Club dining has the best view on the bay with their open air restaurant and beach bars. It’s priced more than the other restaurants, but the service and the view are unbeatable. Bloody Marys by the beach anyone?
$$ Avalon Grille has a relaxed upscale atmosphere where you can enjoy American cuisine, and have the option of open air dining with a lively central bar. Here’s their menu.
This trip was such a memorable one, that I can’t wait to go there again. One of my friend’s heard what I had to say about my trip and he sailed all the way from Marina Del Ray to Catalina! Yes, he loved it too!
So if you live in L.A. or are visiting for more than a week, then jot it down on your list of places to visit. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
All the reference links mentioned in this article will give you detailed information and help you plan your trip better.
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