This summer I was able to be on 9/80 schedule at work, meaning I work 9 hours/day for 9 days and then get 1 day off every two weeks. To celebrate my last “Summer Friday” of the year I decided to take a day trip to the beautiful Avalon on Catalina Island. I had never been to Catalina, and this was on my LA Bucket List since I moved to the city a few months ago. In case you need a quick 4-1-1: Catalina is an island about 25 miles off of the coast of LA, accessible by personal boat, ferry (the route I took), or helicopter. Catalina is a popular tourist destination because it appeals to all types of visitors – the adventure junkies, the foodies, the busy city escapers, family vacationers, the photographers, and more. Catalina offers something for everyone and since it’s fairly easy to get to from LA, it’s the ideal spot to say “BRB L.A.” and get away for some much needed R&R.
Avalon is the city on Catalina Island to visit, and is the bay that all of the ferry’s from the mainland take you directly to. Avalon is located on the east side of Catalina Island and is only 2 square miles in size. Catalina Island itself is about 75 square miles, but most of the island is considered a conservancy area, where it is maintained in its natural (and beautiful, I might add) state. Avalon has about 3,500 local residents and about 1,000,000 visitors each year.
So, now for my visit to this beautiful just-out-of-LA destination...The Universe works in the most magical ways and it turned out that one of my friends was going to be visiting her boyfriend (one of the few Catalina locals, born and raised) on the Island the same day! She asked if I wanted a tour of the island and to spend the day together catching up, and I of course said HECK YES! It was the perfect day to explore because not only did I get to experience the beauty of Catalina through the eyes of a local, but I also got to spend the day catching up with a really amazing friend of mine.
I took the Newport Flyer to Catalina and purchased a GroupOn for $35 (normally $70). I totally would have posted the GroupOn Deal here but I just checked and it’s no longer valid. The boat ride from Newport was about an hour from dock to dock. I liked the ride because you could barely feel the boat swaying back and forth. I was slightly nervous about getting sea-sick but the ride was actually super peaceful and enjoyable. I was greeted by my friend Rebecca as soon as I exited the boat and could barely contain my excitement for our adventure! We started our day with a scenic tour of the island in her boyfriend’s jeep and, as you can see from some of the pictures above, the views were INCREDIBLE! It was great to see the beautiful Avalon bay from both sides and to see some of the back country of Catalina. I understand that you probably won’t have a local to chauffeur you around for the day like I did, so click HERE to check out an hour-long scenic tour offered for $18. This is the perfect way to see some of the highlights and best photo opps of Avalon if you’re just visiting for the day. You can also rent a golf cart for a few hours and cruise around the island at your own pace if you would rather not be on a guided tour. Click HERE to get all the info on renting a golf cart on the island.
Depending on how much time/funds you have available, you can also partake in one of the many adventure activities that Catalina offers after cruising around the island in the morning, including an inland adventure tour on a hummer, zip lining, snorkeling, rock climbing, and so much more. Click HERE for all the details on these.
After Rebecca gave me an incredible tour of the island and I was practically drooling over the island’s beauty (or maybe just salivating thinking about how thirsty I was…), we had enjoyed a cold beer and then headed to our submarine ride (all thanks to her kind boyfriend, Cesar!). The submarine ride was about 30 minutes long, and it was an interesting way to experience the crystal clear waters of Catalina without actually getting wet. The water surrounding Catalina Island makes you feel as if you were transported to Hawaii for the day. If I had more time there I would have loved to go on a snorkeling or snuba expedition because the gorgeous water and sea life are some of Catalina’s most popular attractions. I’ll definitely be adding that to my to-do list for my next Catalina adventure!
Rebecca and I ended the day at Descanso Beach, enjoying fresh ceviche, poke bowls, and Catalina’s famous Buffalo Milk cocktail (A MUST ORDER…especially on a hot day!). Catalina’s signature drink (which doesn’t actually contain milk from buffaloes) is a tasty milkshake with vodka, Kahlua, crème de cacao, milk and fresh bananas, all blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. We enjoyed our lunch and drinks with a picturesque view of Descanso Beach, and no reservation was needed. I liked Descanso Beach because it felt removed from the somewhat touristy feel of downtown Avalon/the main beach area. You can rent a cabana at Descanso, but I don’t really think that’s necessary as there was plenty of space on the beach to sit and relax or just grab a cocktail and bite to eat on their patio. Click HERE for more info on Descanso Beach Club (dining, cabana rentals, etc.).
Overall, my day trip to Catalina was one of my favorite days of Summer 2015, and one in which I will remember fondly. I only had less than 6 hours total on the island but the day never felt overwhelming or rushed, and I still felt like I got to chill out and relax on the boat ride there and back. The scenic tour and Descanso Beach Club were definitely the highlight and my top two recommendations for anyone interested in doing a day trip to Catalina.
Before I bid you adieu, here’s a few extra Catalina tips:
Special thank you to my friends Rebecca and Cesar for being my amazing Catalina tour guides, and I can’t wait to go back and visit them again! Bon voyage, my friends!
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