Believe it or not being an LA native, I have never been to Catalina until recently. I got invited by the Catalina Island Company to visit and I was so excited because I have always wanted to go.
I took the Catalina Express out of Long Beach on a 65 minute boat ride to the island. You can choose date and departure times and book online here. General seating is $36.76 each way and approx $52 each way for the Commodore Lounge, the Catalina Express “first class”. Parking at the downtown Long Beach port is $19 a day in the lot if you leave your car there. I had round trip tickets in the Commodore Lounge which is located on the upper deck of the boat. They gave out complimentary Famous Amos Cookies and a beverage of your choice (if you haven’t already noticed I like to mention the little details, especially when it has to do with food 🙂 ) The ride wasn’t bumpy or rocky, it was actually pretty relaxing.
After 65 minutes on the boat, you arrive in Avalon which is a short walk to the main pier, and all the hotels and restaurants. Upon arrival, I got directly on another boat called the Cyclone from the Green Pier to the rustic village of Two Harbors on the shore of Isthmus Cove where we enjoyed lunch and a day in the sun in our private palapa. The beach was beautiful and a lot less crowded than in Avalon. Discovering Two Harbors is a nice adventure and a great way to cruise the coastline if you have some time to spend in Catalina.
Catalina is underrated- I couldn’t believe how cute it was! Avalon is a small and charming beach town with colorful shops and restaurants all in walking distance from each other. It was nice to be able to walk everywhere and not have to worry about transportation. It reminded me a lot of Ibiza’s Old Town in Spain-colorful cliffside houses overlooking a bay of boats amongst a charming beach town. It had a European vibe for sure. I was also blown away by how beautiful and clear the water was. Close to the shore, it was like an emerald green color…it reminded me of the water in Croatia!
After spending the day at Two Harbors, we took the Cyclone boat back to Avalon and checked into Pavilion Hotel– a short walk from the main pier. Contemporary island chic with a beautifully landscaped courtyard, this hotel was a great place to stay right in the heart of Avalon and just a few steps from the beach. Complimentary breakfast was served 7am-10:30am, and a complimentary wine and cheese hour at 4:30pm which everyone seemed excited about- it got pretty packed so make sure you get their early to grab seating! I also had a great night sleep- the bed was super comfortable and the room nice and cool.
Because I was only there for a night, I only had time to dine out once. I enjoyed a nice dinner at Avalon Grill, which was right next to the hotel and had a great view of Avalon Bay. The food was delicious- the truffle fries and spicy ahi were my favs!
The next day we ventured to Descanso Beach Club which was around a 15-min walk from the hotel. It is the happening spot on the island to have lunch and spend the day at the beach. You can rent a cabana for the day, a lounge chair on the beach or just simply enjoy a meal and some cocktails with a beautiful view of the ocean. I was there on a Friday and it was busy- it gets pretty packed on the weekends during peak season. Descanso Beach Club is a must when visiting the island.
There are lots of activities and things to explore in Catalina. You can zipline, scuba dive, take a helicopter ride, spend the day on a boat etc., or you can just take it easy and relax on the beach and explore Avalon Bay. If you live in Southern California its a great getaway. Thank you Catalina Island Company for giving me my first Catalina experience. I hope to be back soon!
To see more on my trip to Catalina, be sure to check out my Instagram Story Highlights of Catalina on my profile!