If you are an adventure seeker or just a casual traveler and I tell your next vacation will be on an Island with cool beaches, plenty of sunshine, lots of local shops and food, adventures like Zip-lining, Parasailing, scuba diving and oh! a real chance to see Dolphins and Sea-lions swimming in open waters and all that included for a very modest budget, you would take it right? I mean who wouldn’t? Catalina Island is just that kind of a place.
You relax on the beach under that ever so bright- Californian Sun or swim in the not so cold waters and spend your days exploring the island on custom tours or just ride around on a golf cart and appreciate the wildlife, the flora and the fauna for those ecological kind of people.
Believe me, considering my Travel Diary this is one of the best vacations I have had and the kind where we did not have to rush between different sight-seeings. And its not that we spent a week there but only couple nights and it was sufficient to explore this island.
Before I give you my vacation points and the routes we took and the things we did, here are some:
Fun facts about Catalina Island
- Catalina Island is actually a very small Island very close (an hour ferry ride) from the coast of LA. In total it is about a Marathon distance (21 miles approx.) in length
- It is so small that you can actually drive around it in two hours.
- Cars are not needed to see places on this Island. In-fact, there is a approx 14 years of wait-list for the residents to be able to own a car on this Island.
- Island has two cities: Avalon and Two Harbors. Avalon is where most activities happen.
- Population is only about 5000 people, primarily living in Avalon city.
- Chewing gum magnate Mr. Wrigley bought the Island in 1920s and developed it as a tourist destination.
- Famous cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival Cruise lines have a major stop at this Island.
Below is what a typical trip should look like and continue to read further for how mine was different than the typical and yet all so adventurous and fun and relaxing. However, please note the starting point for this trip is Seattle WA.
A Typical Catalina Island Weekend Trip from Seattle
- Fly from Seattle to LA. You can leave on Friday and catch cheap tickets on Spirit.com. Once you reach LA, depending on what time of the day you land, you can take Catalina Express from either SanPedro (15 mins drive from LAX, or from Long beach – about 30 mins drive from LAX)
- Catalina Express Ferry Ride is only an about hour ride from San Pedro or Long Beach to Avalon (one of the most visited of the two cities of Catalina Island)
- If you arrive in Avalon at day time: after you have checked in you can walk around the cities water front. Things to see or do
- Catalina Casino/Museum
- Rent a golf cart and take it for spin around the Island ( you can do the loop in about an hour) with stops at several view points
- Rent an electric bike and just ride around in the city to gold course, museum etc.
- Or just rent beach equipment and enjoy the beach and marvelous sunset on the waterfront
- With an entire day to your leisure go for activities like Parasailing (be ready to spend an hour), Zip lining ( two hours) or go to Descanso Beach and enjoy beach party, or go Scuba Diving, Snorkeling. You can book all that from Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour
- Retire for the day in your hotel and then you can take the ferry back again to LAX the next day or the same night depending upon your schedule.
Now back to my trip to Catalina Island which included a bit of a detour and life time experiences
- Day 1: Thursday: Flew from Seattle to Las Vegas. Attended Coldplay concert. Spend the night in Super 8 Las Vegas. $40 per night hotel charge
- Day 2: Friday: Drove from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Car rental: $40 per day + $28 gas for a 4:30 hr drive from Vegas to LA. Spent the night in Comfort Inn in LA :$120 per night hotel charge (divided between four)
- Day 3: Saturday: Breakfast in the hotel. Checked Out and took Uber to Manhattan Beach. Uber back to Long beach to catch Catalina Express Ferry to Catalina Island. Reached Catalina Island in the evening and checked into the hotel La Paloma Las Flores: approx $600 for hotel : two nights for a party of four. including breakfast. Enjoyed the mini Golf with friends in a cool and pleasant evening
- Day 4: Sunday In Catalina. Zip Line tour in the morning. followed by Parasailing in the evening and crestfallen to have watched school of Dolphins and Sealions out hunting in the open waters.
- Day 5: Monday: checked out from the hotel and took Catalina Express. this time to San Pedro
- La Paloma Las Flores: Book in advance. We took the corner unit #C. It had a queen bed and a sofa bed. Do not have big expectations from the hotel. It is as good as it come for a budget travel in tiny islands. Very quaint, easily accessible to everything and breakfast offered.
- Zipline: Ask for Riley as your guide if you can. He is fun and cool also his buddy Quan (not sure of the name),they were funny and very professional.
- Golf Cart: You can rent it for two hours max. Deposit for second hour is refunded if you return within first hour
- Mings is a Chinese restaurant which we did not like at all
- Considering the drought in California State, bottled water is what you will get for 50 cents if you ask for water
- Catalina Express’s Commodore lounge offers a free snack and beverage per person plus allows to board first in more comfortable seating area.