It’s The @/#king Catalina Wine Mixer!
(for those who don’t know, this is a famous quote from the very funny film, Stepbrothers)
Welcome to California’s little gem and island resort. Think quaint historic American old charm and wooden beach hut style mini houses, blended with a Mediterranean feel of crystal clear waters, boats, palm trees and white sand beaches. This is Santa Catalina Island.
The first sense that you’re travelling somewhere special, to an island away from the mainland and even from America, is felt on the high-speed ferry journey over to Catalina (FYI every trip on the boat that I have made I saw Dolphins, how cool is that!). In an hour you reach the town of Avalon, with its blue/turquoise waters and impressive boats and yachts dotting the perfect crescent cove. First impressions are wow…it’s so pretty! You know you are stepping into a beach town playground.
I had three days playtime with friends and going to a wedding (congratulations Matt and Darlene!) I have had the pleasure of visiting Catalina last year, I have to say that in the two trips made here I feel I have experienced what I need to, not in a negative way it’s just it is a small town. You wont find many cars on the island, visitors and locals alike use golf cars to manoeuvre around the town but to be honest you don’t even need to use one, as everything is within walking distance. How handy is that!
Here is my quick guide to a three day stay on Catalina Island
Where to stay
A group of us rented a house for $650 for three nights (this was over Easter) through Airbnb, I have done this twice now and really feel it’s a great option. There are hotels too, ranging from a more basic stay in a historic hotel full of charm, to a more fancy pants one with views of the bay and afternoon wine and appetizers. So, choose your accommodation to fit your style and budget or on the type of vacation you would like. Prices really do range – depending on the time of year of course, from $57 a night to $400+ including all the prices in between. Hotels may offer a few extras in the cost but the houses offer a sense of independence, a freedom away from other guests. I will say this though – on the subject of guests, the island is full, loaded, teeming with visitors. Know that before you embark on what you think might be a solitary island retreat. Hunt around online for your choice of accommodation and for deals, don’t forget to compare prices between search operators such as Kayak and Expedia – there are many more, and the independent websites for which ever accommodation takes your fancy. Trip Advisor is a great way to read other people’s reviews too.
What did I do
The town has a mix of shops, from your standard beach resort tourist shops filled with anything and everything with the word ‘Catalina’ printed on it. To surf style clothes shops, boutiques, arcades and galleries. Wander the streets and poke around, buy a souvenir then find some refreshments. There is a Casino where Big Bands used to play and an Art Deco style theatre. Catalina was once THE celebrity hangout back in the days of old Hollywood.
Get wet. Warning… the water is rather chilly. I have hired a SUP (stand-up paddleboard) for a few hours and in a very wobbly manor navigated my way around the harbour. It’s a lot of fun! You can also hire snorkel sets and fins – my husbands favourite activity. There is some marine life to see, it’s no Great Barrier Reef mind. There is a load of different water sports and activities to do such as kayak, glass bottomed boat, coastal tours and diving. The pier offers places to arrange activities.
Get out of town and go for a nice walk or hike. I have taken the trails to the top of the mountain. Yes it is a workout but totally doable if you are at a basic fitness level. The view is great from up there! You see the coast and town from a different perspective. Probably best to do this early while it’s a little cooler, and take water. You can walk to the campground and just past there find the start of the trail. There are lots of ways to get out of town with bike hire and various tours so your are able to explore the interior of the island and it’s other coast lines.
There is a lot to do if you want lots of stuff to do – zip line at Descanso Beach, bike hire, parasailing or Dolphin watching, scuba diving and a heap of other water sports. You can have spa days, beach days or just plain lazy days. Click here to take a look at the Catalina Chamber of Commerce and visitor guide, it has a lot of information and contact details on there.
Grub up and places to have drinkie drink to be cont in my next post…