My second time visiting Catalina made me fall even more in love with this island just off the Southern California coast. This time around, I was not pregnant and it was one of my first trips away from my infant daughter–meaning MOM WAS OFF DUTY! I was ready to dive into all the experiences on Catalina that I couldn’t do the first time around.
What always gets me is how This island is popular for all types of travelers–from the wee ones to the older set, the luxury seekers to the adrenaline junkies. With 48 hours to enjoy, I chose to do a little bit of everything.
THE OUTDOOR ADVENTURER
Highlights: I enjoyed a whole new perspective of Catalina from the treetops. The Aerial Adventure ropes course has routes for beginners to the experts. The beautifully designed courses subtly blend in with the surrounding nature. Challenge yourself to jump off platforms, maneuver around and balance feet above the ground.
Tips: Work up your confidence by starting with one of the two beginner routes. Once you get the hang of the ropes and clipping/unclipping, you can move on to the intermediate and advanced routes.
Cost: Adults, $49.95, Children/Seniors/Military: $39.95
Also check out: Zipline Eco Tour
THE LUXURY SEEKER
Highlights: The former Wrigley residence, the Mt Ada hotel is only accessible for those staying in one of the 12 guest rooms– unless you have a lunch reservation. Step inside this former Wrigley residence to enjoy a memorable lunch on their wraparound patio, which might be my favorite view of Catalina Island. The three course lunch includes your choice of champagne, wine or beer.
Tips: Take a golf cart up to the hotel for a scenic drive.
Cost: $62 per person
Also check out: the Island Spa Catalina to pamper yourself poolside.
THE WATER BABY
- Kayaking off of Descanso Beach
Highlights: The waters around Catalina are crystal clear and a stunning turquoise shade of blue. Appreciate their clarity upclose from your own kayak. You can opt for a guided tour or just taking one out on your own and either way, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking coastal views and new appreciation for California’s rugged beauty.
Tips: Take the Journey to Frog Rock tour to be treated to insider knowledge on the island and a stop on a breathtaking beach only accessible by boat.
Cost: $22 Single Kayak, $30 Double Kayak; Frog Rock Tour: $54 Adults, Children 25% off
Also check out: Snorkeling
THE HISTORY BUFF
Highlights: I wouldn’t say I seek out every museum when I travel but I am sure glad that I toured the recently built Catalina Museum. The building itself is a work of art and the exhibits are fascinating. Walk through on your own or take a guided tour to learn about the stories that give this island its unique personality. From Hollywood starlets to presidents, baseball heroes to wartime tales–Catalina’s history is truly unexpected and exciting.
Tips: Come for one of their monthly outdoor movie screenings located on the roof. Do not miss the Bird Park exhibit that shares the quirky history of the exotic bird sanctuary that once existed in town.
Cost: $17 Adults/Children (under 15) Free
Also check out: Wrigley’s Catalina
THE FAMILY TRIP
Highlights: Just under the water, there’s a whole new world of marine life. Dive into it without ever getting wet on the Undersea Expedition. It’s a safe, comfortable way for an up close look at the vivid Garibaldi, the impressive kelp forests and maybe an occasional dolphin if you are lucky.
Tips: Be prepared for lots of photo opportunities both in the submersible and above the water when they sail back on the surface.
Cost: $39.95 Adults/$37.95 Children
Also check out: Glass Bottom Boat Voyage
THE FOOD FOCUSED
Highlights: A circular bar, comfortable booths and water views, the Avalon Grille tastes as good as it looks. Menu signatures include the hangar steak and the pan seared scallops and I particularly loved the tempura green beans.
Tips: This restaurant is popular so definitely book ahead. And order yourself a Wrigley Martini for me.
Cost: Appetizers around $18, Entrées around $35
Also check out: Bluewater Grill
IMPORTANT TRAVEL DETAILS
Where to Stay: The Pavilion Hotel
Personally, I wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else. The waterfront location is an easy walk from the ferry and perfectly situated to access all the main spots in Avalon by foot.
I love the tropical courtyard where you can enjoy their included (hearty) breakfast spread in the cool mornings or toast to a fun day next to the fire pits during the complimentary wine hour. The crisp, nautical rooms are spacious and comfortable and the included bike rental was very helpful for getting around.
Cost: $180 to $350 per night, dependent on season
Getting There: Catalina Express
The ferry ride is half the fun of going to Catalina, in my opinion. With many departures daily, this hour cruise covers the 22 watery miles in just an hour. Sip on bloody marys in the Commodore’s Lounge or soak up the sun on the outer deck. You might even spot a dolphin or a whale! Cost: $74.50 Adult Roundtrip/ $59 Children Roundtrip/ Under 2 years old Free