The morning sun was shining brightly on our sleepy-eyed faces as the salty wind flew through our hair. We could see the outline of our destination in the distance and sat happily as the Cat Express gifted us with stunning views of the Golden Coast along our 1 hour commute. As the bustling roads and jam packed freeways of LA became more and more distant, we felt a sense of relief in our hearts… we were finally returning to one of our favorite places, a tiny island filled with wonder, relaxation and of course, adventure. Aaa, C A T A L I N A I S L A N D .
There are 2 ways to journey to Catalina:
- Helicopter: 15 minutes, quite a bit pricier (you have to call for pricing), great alternative if you get sea sick easily
- Ferry (Catalina Express, Catalina Flyer): 45 – 75 minutes (depending on what port you are leaving from and traveling to), you can buy a round trip ticket for your bike/surf board too ($7 roundtrip)! The Cat Express is slightly more expensive but they offer a larger selection of more ideal arrival and departure times, and you can ride free on your birthday! If you stay in the open air area you shouldn’t get sea sick, plus you get the best views!:
Check out the mirage-like view of Catalina from the San Pedro Port:
Once we made it out to sea, a giant Blue Whale stopped by to show same tail too!
Our favorite things to do in Avalon include:
- Exploring the shops and cafes along Crescent Avenue, “Avalon Bay Company” is my fave!
- Descanso Beach Club: located just off the main strip with a live DJ mixing jams, fancy umbrella drinks, beachside service, loungers and more, this spot is the Vegas of Catalina! (plus kids lol)
- Taking a leisurely stroll along the Green Pleasure Pier, you never know who you’re gonna run into!:
- Enjoying a drink and a refreshing dip at the Casino Dock Cafe, “Avalon’s best kept secret!”
- Camping at Hermit Gulch (book here) where you can even have catered food delivered to your campsite!:
Things to note: Reservations are required and there is a 2 night minimum for camping on weekends. You can rent all your camping gear, you are only permitted to burn wax logs (which they sell on site), showers are $1/minute (it was cold water only when we went) and it is located up hill so be prepared for a strenuous hike or bike ride up, or hop on the trolly for a small fee. We opted for bikes 🙂
- Hiking the 3.9 mile Garden to Sky loop, starting from the back of Hermit Gulch Campground (permit required) or starting from the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden:
The view of Hermit Gulch from the trail, you can see our little orange tent!:
Look at these sweet friends we made along the way. At night they all gather on the golf course to sleep and if you look closely, you can see a hundred twinkling eyes that shine just as bright as the twinkling stars that hang in Catalina’s crisp night sky.
It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the top, with fresh, cool Pacific breezes the entire way:
A foxy, new friend!:
The views truly are awesome from the “garden to the sky”!:
Ending at William Wrigley‘s Memorial (of Wrigley gum!) in the Botanic Garden:
This past trip was our third time to Catalina. We have been to Avalon twice and once to Two Harbors, these are the only two ports on the island. While Two Harbors is just as beautiful, we are definitely a bit partial to Avalon. With one store, one bar/cafe and one restaurant, Two Harbors relies on its unique gems to draw attention.
Things to do/see in Two Harbors include:
- The Wrigley Marine Science Center, a state-of-the-art research center and marine reserve:
- A quieter version of the Green Pleasure Pier, plus hiking, kayaking and camping:
3. And did I mention the buffalo? Yep you heard me right. In 1924, 14 buffalo were transported to Catalina Island for use in filming the motion picture, “The Vanishing American,” an old Western tale. After the picture was completed, William Wrigley Jr. agreed that the buffalo could remain on Catalina. There are now approximately 150 on the Island roaming free and we happened to run into one of them! Well, luckily we didn’t actually run into him:
No matter where you decide to explore or what you decide to do, there is no denying the beautiful memories and lasting effect that Catalina Island has on the heart and soul.
As we set sail that final evening, ending our journey right where it began, we watched as the sinking sun transformed the sky into a collection of swirling pastel water colors, reminding us to appreciate just how amazing the world we live in truly is…